As a financial planner and investment advisor, my starting point is client education. To me this makes sense, because we all tend to be more engaged with matters that we understand—and understanding usually starts with knowledge. My goal is to empower clients with the knowledge they need to make good financial decisions for themselves and move toward positive financial action.
Ten years ago, we began serving as the investment advisor to 401(k) plans. As such, we are responsible for selecting the investment options that participants have available to them and for creating balanced portfolios that correspond with their objectives, time horizon, and personal risk tolerance. Because we recognize that successful participant outcomes depend largely on a participant’s understanding of the investment options that are available to them and of how to make the right choices for themselves, we have placed a top priority on participant education.
My experience has taught me that to be an effective 401(k) advisor, you need to be an effective educator. Pedagogy is the art and science of teaching. Andragogy is the art and science of teaching adult learners. I decided to deepen my pedagogical and andragogical skills so that I could be an even more effective teacher of financial education. I enrolled in the Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) training program offered by the National Financial Educators Council. The NFEC’s web site describes the program as follows:
“The CFEI coursework meets standards for the highest academic rigor while providing practical financial education knowledge. Graduates possess the skills and teaching techniques that help them motivate, engage, educate, and move participants of all ages to take positive financial action.”
I am pleased to say that I recently completed the program and now hold the Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) designation. It’s not the additional letters after my name that are important, but rather the skills and teaching framework that are now part of the toolkit that I can bring to bear for the 401(k) participants with whom I meet. I’m proud to be an advisor and educator, committed to helping others conserve, plan, and grow their wealth.