Follow My Lead

I am a 27-year-old elementary school teacher who’s passionate about educating children, but I’d also like to develop an expertise in financial education and teach single, black, professional women with modest incomes. I don’t have any experience in finance apart from personally ridding myself of debt, establishing good credit along with investment and retirement portfolios, and advising girlfriends to do the same. Essentially, I would like to know how to become a financial educator. Please advise.
- K. Stevens, New York City

Your personal experiences are a wonderful foundation as you embark on an endeavor to become what is called a financial coach-that is, someone who can motivate, inspire, and offer specific steps to maximizing personal finance or overcoming financial missteps. But in order to give the advice a client might need, you will require some formal coaching yourself. Many colleges, universities, distance learning programs, and private institutions offer courses. It’s important to receive the proper training so that you are well-briefed in the laws, statutes, and resources you may need to pass on to clients. Through the relationships you develop in your classes, you should be able to find a mentor. A good way to develop your reputation is to volunteer at schools, women’s shelters, and other nonprofits. As your network develops, so will your opportunities to attract clients.

Consider joining a professional organization. The Financial Management Association (www.fma.org/assoc.htm) lists several.

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