Volunteer This Financial Capability Month
April is National Financial Capability Month, an annual event designed to help Americans improve their understanding of finances. As a CPA, you can significantly increase its value and impact, and help ensure the month is more than just a reminder to consumers to save and spend wisely. When you get involved, you can:
- Help Americans build their financial understanding and capabilities
- Strengthen and advance the CPA profession
- Give young CPAs an opportunity to develop leadership skills
- Volunteer and build your network at the same time
Help Americans Get on a Better Track
The timing couldn’t be more critical for you to reach out to help make a difference. The AICPA continues to monitor the pulse of consumer trends through annual surveys, and all point to an urgent need for increased financial literacy. Here are just some of the ways limited financial literacy is negatively impacting Americans:
- Three out of four U.S. adults (74 percent) believe they are worse off or about the same financially as they were a year ago (March 2014 AICPA-Harris Poll).
- Seventy-five percent of parents said they or their children have made personal or financial sacrifices because of monthly student loan payments: 41 percent have postponed retirement contributions; 40 percent have delayed car purchases; 29 percent have put off buying a house; and 15 percent have postponed marriage (March 2012 AICPA-Harris Poll).
- Twenty-seven percent of those who are married or living with a partner said money is the most volatile topic between them—ahead of arguments about children, chores, work or friends (March 2012 AICPA-Harris Poll).
A Variety of Easy Ways to Get Involved
Consider your own strengths and what you bring to the table. How can you best leverage these four weeks? By speaking at a local school? By proactively reaching out to groups that could benefit from your help? By working through your state CPA society? However you decide to help others improve their financial understanding, the AICPA’s newly updated volunteer resources make it easy to get involved.
Also, keep in mind that being a financial literacy volunteer can help young CPAs. In order to one day lead organizations, and effectively collaborate and effect change while serving on committees and boards, they need opportunities to build leadership and communication skills. Young CPAs thrive with encouragement and opportunities, so look both inside and outside your firm to find them.
For More Information
Across the nation, state CPA societies and the AICPA are offering special Financial Literacy Month events and resources. Check with your local state society to see how you can get involved. You can also take action right now and help consumers get started on a better path towards financial health by referring them to the AICPA’s financial education site, 360FinancialLiteracy.org. The site is a resource for hundreds of thousands of Americans who are choosing to make sound financial decisions at every point in their lives.
As chair of the National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, I am reminded time and time again of the incredible work the CPA profession is doing in financial literacy. Ten years ago when 360 was launched, we took a visionary step to launch a groundbreaking program that united our profession around an issue that impacts every individual and community in this country. Today, we are seen as leaders in this area and there exists great opportunity and need to do more. This April, consider volunteering an hour of your time to help those in your community become more financially literate. When you do, come back and share your experience to help inspire other CPAs to volunteer.
Ernest A. Almonte, CPA, MST, CFF, CITP, CGFM, Chief Visionary Officer and CEO, Almonte Group LLC. Ernie is chair of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. He founded and serves as the Chief Visionary Officer for Almonte Group LLC., a full service accounting and consulting firm providing tax, audit, anti-fraud, expert witness testimony, forensic accounting and consulting services.