An industry association is taking aim at the nation’s lack of financial literacy.
The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors is looking at the issue from two sides: lack of basic consumer financial education and a need for financial professionals to provide services.
NAIFA is introducing its financial literacy initiative on Tuesday. The project includes a one-hour course available for NAIFA members to present in their communities, along with a consumer-oriented website, www.financialsecurity.org.
The site goes live Tuesday.
The inspiration for the project came from NAIFA’s most recent strategic plan, said Kevin Mayeux, the association’s CEO.
“The strategic plan has three different goals. The first one is empowerment. Part of that includes having the advisor be seen as a more proactive resource for communities and everyday Americans. This fits squarely into that.”
More than 82% of NAIFA members said in a recent survey they are sources of financial education and information for their clients. Many also work as volunteers in their communities providing financial literacy classes and programs. NAIFA’s financial literacy initiative will formalize the process, encourage members to expand their audiences, and put the association’s resources into community-based personal finance education.
“We’ll discuss things as basic as what a checking account is, what a savings account is, as well as protection products like insurance and then planning for the long-term with retirement savings,” Mayeux said.
He backed up the need for such a course with statistics saying only about half of Americans at retirement age have more than $50,000 in savings.
“If we can do our part to introduce people to the general things they should start thinking about and then steer folks to some resources in case they’re interested in pursuing any of those items, it could be a great service to communities across America,” he said.
Mayeux said the initial course is geared toward “everyone from high school juniors and seniors and older.”
He envisioned the course being taught by NAIFA members “in a high school, a community college, a library, a community center – any place where there might be a demand for this kind of information.”
The one-hour PowerPoint course also includes an instructor’s manual. Course participants will be guided to www.financialsecurity.org for more resources.
NAIFA also is encouraging its members to contribute content to the new website. In addition to providing consumer information, the site will be used as a way to present the financial services profession as a career option for recent graduates as well as people looking to make mid-career changes.
It’s not the first time NAIFA has created a website for consumers. The association also has a site www.advisorsyoucantrust.org where consumers can learn about financial products and find a NAIFA member in their communities.
The new site is less focused on advisors, although it features two buttons for visitors to find a NAIFA advisor.
Mayeux said the financial literacy project was created “as a service of NAIFA. It’s not meant to generate business for our members; it’s meant to be an altruistic community service program."
“As we receive feedback, if people see the need for deeper dives into the subject matter – maybe a course on insurance products or retirement savings – we’ll put together courses to meet those needs. But first, we’re just educating people on the basics.”
Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents' association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @INNsusan.
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