Thursday, February 22, 2007
NASD Investor Education Foundation Expands its Military Financial Education Campaign in 2007
Washington, DC — The NASD Investor Education Foundation will expand the scope of its Military Financial Education Campaign this year, adding two new programs aimed at specific populations within the military community - military spouses and wounded and severely injured servicemembers. An e-learning financial simulation game is also in development to teach the military community about the importance of managing their finances and financial planning. The NASD Foundation has committed $3.8 million to fund the military program's second year.
Formally launched in February 2006 with the goal of providing servicemembers and their families with unbiased financial education information and tools, the program offers dozens of educational forums at military installations in the U.S. and abroad, continuing education for on-base Personal Financial Managers (PFMs), a financial counseling fellowship program for military spouses, a comprehensive Web site-SaveAndInvest.org-that focuses on the unique financial needs of the military community and a targeted public education campaign to raise awareness of available programs and resources.
"The NASD Foundation's Military Financial Education Campaign has succeeded in meeting a critical need, reaching thousands of military servicemembers and their families with the tools and resources designed to meet the unique financial education needs of military families," said NASD Foundation Chairman Mary Schapiro, who also serves as NASD's Chairman and CEO. "As we move into 2007, our core goal remains the same: provide military families with the information they need to save and invest with confidence."
"AFCPE is proud to partner with the NASD Foundation to help increase the financial knowledge of on-base professionals and families through both the Personal Financial Manager and Military Spouse Fellowship Programs. We continue to see tremendous interest in both programs and look forward to expanding the program offerings this year," said Sharon Burns, Executive Director, Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education.
Many servicemembers report having difficulty covering expenses and saving for the future. Research conducted in June 2005 found that only 29 percent of military personnel who currently invest received a passing grade on a quiz about basic financial knowledge. However, 97 percent of survey respondents said that it was important to them that they become more knowledgeable about saving and investing.
The NASD Foundation will launch several new programs in 2007. One of the new programs being developed is a pilot program that will provide 600 active duty servicemembers and/or their spouses a complete, personal credit report that explains each element of the report in easy-to-understand language. They will also receive a detailed breakdown of how the credit score is calculated, access to live counselors and a customized action plan for improving their credit scores. In keeping with today's technology and the perceived learning styles of young adults in the 18-24 year old population, the NASD Foundation also will launch an immersive e-learning game for servicemembers that is engaging, educational and effective in communicating the importance of finance and financial planning. Another new program will assist injured servicemembers and their families, who often receive significant monetary compensation and are faced with a myriad of complex financial decisions dealing with Traumatic Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (TSGLI), Veterans' Group Life Insurance (VGLI), Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC), and Survivor Benefits. Finally, the Foundation will conduct a comprehensive survey of military spouses to determine what information, education and tools they need to help them make sound financial decisions and, more importantly, how best to reach and engage military spouses. Based on the results of the spouse survey, we will craft appropriate programs designed to reach out to and benefit military spouses in particular and the military community as a whole.
To date, the NASD Foundation's most significant accomplishments include:
Financial Education Forums
NASD Foundation conducted 25 financial education forums in 2006 at military installations across the country and around the world, reaching over 4,500 servicemembers and their spouses. Events took place in Okinawa and Yokosuka, Japan; Honolulu, HI; Fort Lewis, WA; Luke AFB, AZ; throughout Navy Region Southwest; and aboard the USS RONALD REAGAN, then on a tour of duty in the Arabian Gulf. The forums give military families the help they need to manage their money with confidence through seminars such as Smart Credit Management: Avoid the Predatory Loan Trap, Mutual Funds, 529 Plans and More and Smart Saving for Retirement.
The Military Financial Education Program kicked off 2007 with a successful financial education forum at Fort Gordon, GA, with more than 600 officers, enlisted personnel and spouses attending. Additional forums at Camp Pendleton and four other Marine Corps bases in California and Arizona already are set to take place in March. Additional forums are being scheduled throughout the year.
SaveAndInvest.org is the program's online resource center that serves as a centralized, trusted source for unbiased information on saving and investing specifically for servicemembers and their families. The interactive site includes original content, content from 11 government and non-profit partners such as the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Reserve and the California Department of Corporations, interactive tools, links to financial education resources, frequently asked questions and more. With more than 171,000 visitors since February 2006 and more than 30,000 average visits per month, SaveAndInvest.org continues to offer frequently updated, relevant information for military personnel and their families.
Personal Financial Manager (PFM) Program
In partnership with the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE), NASD Foundation provided continuing education for 268 on-base PFMs through self-paced e-learning modules. This program aims to expand the financial knowledge of the PFMs and strengthen the financial counseling opportunities available at military installations.
Military Spouse Fellowship for the Accredited Financial CounselorSM Program
In partnership with the National Military Family Association (NMFA) and AFCPE, NASD Foundation established the Military Spouse Fellowship Program to offer military spouses the opportunity to receive a financial counseling credential. Of the more than 2,800 applicants, nearly 200 were selected for admission to the one-year distance learning program. Many are already providing volunteer counseling services to their community and results of an August 2006 survey of program participants show that 82 percent have changed their own saving and investing habits since joining the program.
The military program was initially funded with fines NASD levied against First Command Financial Planning, Inc. for misleading sales practices related to the sale of systematic investment plans to military personnel. To date, the Foundation has committed more than $4.3 million to the program, with another $3.8 million earmarked to continue the campaign in 2007.
The NASD Investor Education Foundation, established in 2003, supports innovative research and educational projects that give investors the tools they need to better understand the markets and the basic principles of saving and investing. To date, the Foundation has approved nearly $8.3 million in grants, and committed an additional $10.2 million in direct investor education programming. For details about grant programs and other Foundation initiatives, visit www.nasdfoundation.org.