|Thursday, October 6, 2011|
WASHINGTON — In support of First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden's "Joining Forces" initiative, the FINRA Investor Education Foundation today announced an expansion of the Foundation's Military Financial Education Project. The FINRA Foundation will give 50,000 servicemembers and spouses free FICO® Scores—doubling the number of individuals receiving this vital credit tool. The Foundation will also develop a suite of educational videos to help members of the National Guard manage their finances and avoid investment fraud and continue efforts to educate and train military spouses as financial counselors.
Launched in 2006, the Military Financial Education Project provides military servicemembers and their families with free, unbiased tools and information to help them manage their money with confidence. The project, which includes educational forums on military installations, a comprehensive online resource, www.SaveAndInvest.org, and more, was designed to meet the unique financial education needs of military servicemembers and their families who are often faced with frequent moves and extended deployments.
"The FINRA Investor Education Foundation is honored to support Joining Forces with new commitments in our work to help military servicemembers and families manage their credit, avoid fraud and plan for a secure financial future," said Gerri Walsh, President of the FINRA Investor Education Foundation. "We believe providing the right tools for military families can enhance their financial readiness and relieve some of the stress families feel when it comes to managing household finances."
"FINRA's effort in support of our extraordinary military families is a great example of the private sector stepping up to the plate and delivering goodness with impact and effect," said Brad Cooper, Executive Director of Joining Forces.
Increased Distribution of FICO® Scores
FINRA Foundation research shows a significant number of military families have large credit card debts, with one in four respondents reporting outstanding balances of more than $10,000. To help them, the Foundation offers eligible military personnel free access to their FICO® Scores and the educational information in the FICO® Standard service from www.myFICO.com. These tools can help servicemembers and their families take steps to improve their knowledge of credit scores, better manage their credit and ultimately make better financial decisions. The Foundation pledges to double the number of servicemembers and spouses who will have free access to this credit management tool in 2012—from 25,000 to 50,000 individuals. Eligible personnel interested in obtaining their FICO® Scores should contact the military financial educator at their installation.
Financial Education Tools for the National Guard
Nearly half of the members of the Guard have been deployed to combat zones, and many have been deployed multiple times. The National Guard population is highly dispersed and straddles both the military and civilian worlds. To reach this audience, the Foundation is launching a series of online videos, such as how to build a budget, contribute to the TSP and to the Savings Deposit Program, and other topics. The Foundation has just released the first video, which focuses on how to spot and avoid investment scams. Videos will be distributed through the National Guard Bureau and be featured in deployment briefings and other training.
Financial Accreditation and Portable Job Skills for Military Spouses
The FINRA Foundation's Military Spouse Fellowship Program, administered in partnership with the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education® (AFCPE®) and the National Military Family Association, covers the cost for training and materials for military spouses to receive the Accredited Financial Counselor designation. This program affords military spouses the opportunity to help military families with their finance issues while also addressing a challenge many spouses face in finding portable job skills. Since its inception in 2006, the program has awarded nearly 1,200 fellowships.
In 2011, nearly 200 military spouses living across the U.S. and overseas were awarded the FINRA Foundation's Military Spouse Fellowship. Recipients of the Military Spouse Fellowship commit to completing the courses of study and working in the financial counseling field serving their communities for up to two years. To date, spouse fellows have logged more than 272,500 hours assisting servicemembers and their communities. Current accredited spouses serve as financial counselors at family readiness and support centers, credit counseling and tax centers, financial aid offices and local military credit unions throughout the U.S. and abroad.
"The curriculum and volunteer practicum have been designed to fit within the parameters of military life, with many spouses completing the accreditation requirements as their families move from one duty station to another," said Gordon Genovese, executive director of AFCPE®. "We want this program to be an accessible option for spouses to gain further education that can lead to a career—wherever the military may send them."
"Only someone from within the military community can truly understand and appreciate the distinct financial benefits and challenges the military lifestyle brings," said Joyce Wessel Raezer, executive director of the National Military Family Association. "Military Spouse Fellows are in an exceptional position to provide financial guidance to other military families, with the added benefit of building a successful and rewarding career path along the way."
About the FINRA Investor Education Foundation
The FINRA Investor Education Foundation is the largest foundation in the United States dedicated to investor education. Its mission is to provide investors with high-quality, easily accessible information and tools to better understand the markets and the basic principles of saving and investing. In 2006, the Foundation launched a multifaceted program to expand the saving and investing knowledge of military servicemembers and their spouses, including a free, unbiased resource, www.SaveAndInvest.org/Military. A proud partner in the Department of Defense Financial Readiness Campaign, the Foundation also presents financial education forums at military installations worldwide.
About Joining Forces
Joining Forces is a comprehensive national initiative to mobilize all sectors of society to give our servicemembers and their families the opportunities and support they have earned. Joining Forces provides ways for all Americans to step up and show their gratitude to our servicemembers and their families. Through this effort, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden ask Americans to do more for those who have done so much for us.
FICO (NYSE:FICO) delivers superior predictive analytics solutions that drive smarter decisions. The company's groundbreaking use of mathematics to predict consumer behavior has transformed entire industries and revolutionized the way risk is managed and products are marketed. FICO's innovative solutions include the FICO® Score — the standard measure of consumer credit risk in the United States — along with industry-leading solutions for managing credit accounts, identifying and minimizing the impact of fraud, and customizing consumer offers with pinpoint accuracy. Most of the world's top banks, as well as leading insurers, retailers, pharmaceutical companies and government agencies, rely on FICO solutions to accelerate growth, control risk, boost profits and meet regulatory and competitive demands. FICO also helps millions of individuals manage their personal credit health through www.myFICO.com. Learn more at www.fico.com.
The Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education® (AFCPE®) provides professional development experiences for financial educators, practitioners and researchers to improve the economic well-being of individuals and families worldwide. The Association's vision is to be internationally recognized as the leading provider of professional development opportunities. Visit www.afcpe.org for more information.
About the National Military Family Association
Military families serve our country with pride, honor and quiet dedication. The National Military Family Association is the leading nonprofit organization committed to strengthening and protecting the families of the men and women currently serving, retired, wounded or fallen. We provide families of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard and Commissioned Corps of the USPHS and NOAA with information, work to get them the benefits they deserve and offer programs that improve their lives. Our 40 years of service and accomplishments have made us a trusted resource for military families and the Nation's leaders. Visit www.militaryfamily.org for more information.