Financial Counselor Fellowship FAQs
Accredited Financial Counselor® Certification
What types of skills does an Accredited Financial Counselor® gain through this program of study?
Accredited Financial Counselors® gain the knowledge and skills to assist individuals and families in the complex process of financial decision-making, including the ability to:
- Educate clients in sound financial principles.
- Assist clients in the process of overcoming their financial indebtedness.
- Help clients identify and modify ineffective money management behaviors.
- Guide clients in developing successful strategies for achieving their financial goals.
- Support clients as they work through their financial challenges and opportunities.
- Help clients develop new perspectives on the dynamics of money in relation to family, friends, and individual self-esteem.
What types of employment opportunities can I expect as an Accredited Financial Counselor®?
The field of financial counseling is growing. Potential employers are located throughout the country, in both small and large communities. According to many job satisfaction studies, financial service providers feel challenged and satisfied by their work. In general, providers believe that they are making a significant contribution to their clients’ economic well-being. Job opportunities can be found in the following:
Banks and savings and loan associations
College financial aid offices
Consumer credit counseling services
Consumer finance companies
Cooperative Extension services
Corporate and government employee assistance programs
Corporate credit departments
Divorce mediation firms
Employee benefits counseling firms
Family service agencies
Housing and urban development offices
Mental health associations
Mutual fund companies
Social welfare agencies
Uniformed Services family/community service agencies
What is an Accredited Financial Counselor®?
An Accredited Financial Counselor® (AFC®) assists individuals and families in the process of financial decision making. Accredited Financial Counselors® agree to maintain the highest ethical standards as outlined in the AFCPE® Code of Ethics (See Code of Ethics).
Through continuing education (See Maintaining Certification,) Accredited Financial Counselors® maintain up-to-date knowledge in the fields of personal finance and financial counseling. After certification, in order to maintain a certificate, financial counselors must receive 30 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) every two years. Visit http://www.afcpe.org/ for more information.
AFCPE® Program for Accredited Financial Counselors®
Will I be required to attend classes?
This is a distance learning program. You receive all of the course materials by mail and you study at your own pace. However, in order to enhance your learning experience, increase the opportunities for success, and encourage completion of the program in a timely fashion, AFCPE® offers a nine-week webinar study session for each of the two courses (18 weeks total). Each session is 1 hour in length. All study sessions are led by an experienced instructor.
What is the format of the examinations?
Each examination includes 100 multiple choice questions and takes approximately two hours to complete. The examinations are taken online and you receive an immediate score. You must correctly answer a minimum of 70 questions to earn a passing grade on each examination.
What are the requirements to become an Accredited Financial Counselor?
To become accredited you must do the following:
- Earn a passing grade on each of two course examinations (The FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Accredited Financial Counselor® Fellowship will cover the cost of these courses, study materials, teleconference study sessions and two attempts at each examination for the two required courses.)
- Comply with the AFCPE® Code of Ethics.
- Have 1,000 hours of admissible financial counseling experience (can be acquired through paid employment or through volunteer work). You can gain this experience while studying for the certification.
Is there help available to prepare for the exams?
The program does include instructor led, webinar study sessions with other program participants. Study sessions are repeated at various times in order to accommodate your busy schedule. Once you enroll, you’ll receive a schedule of study session times.
How many classes will I be required to take?
The AFC® program is a two course program that covers topics relating to Financial Counseling and Debt Management and Personal Finance. Once you complete the course material you will be tested on each subject. You are required to receive a passing grade of 70% on each exam in order to receive your certificate.
How long will it take me to complete the study portion of the program?
This is a self-paced course so completion time depends on the individual. However, you have up to 3 years to complete the program.
How do I schedule the examinations?
Once you are ready to take an examination, you need to find a proctor in your community. Proctors can be found at your local community college, military education center, technical or vocational school, and adult education centers, usually at no cost. Proctors cannot be related to the candidate or work with the candidate or their organization.
What type of work can earn practicum hours?
This program is designed to be flexible for military spouses and the means to earn practicum hours are varied. Activities such as writing articles, attending conferences, or observing counseling sessions can qualify. However, the majority of your hours should be acquired by providing supervised personal financial counseling or education.
An important component of this fellowship program is to increase the amount of financial education and counseling services available to military members and to ensure that certificants have a significant amount of financial counseling and/or financial education experience. To that end, all fellowship recipients will need to complete practicum hours. Those with previous educational and/or work experience in finance or counseling (or a related field) will be required to fulfill fewer practicum hours.
How much time is required to complete the practicum?
Normally, the program requires a minimum of 1,000 hours of admissible financial counseling experience. However, in order to provide flexibility and to accommodate the challenges of the military family lifestyle, AFCPE® has adapted the practicum requirements for the recipients of the FINRA Foundation Fellowship. Fellowship recipients will be required to fulfill a minimum of 400 hours and no more than 1,000 hours (the practicum hour requirement will be determined by AFCPE® based on your previous relevant experience in the field). Fellowship recipients may begin tracking and reporting practicum hours in September 2013.
Am I required to complete my practicum hours at a military installation?
While this program is intended to give back to the military community we understand that not all applicants live near a military installation. In that situation, we encourage participants to take advantage of virtual opportunities that can serve the military community. Additionally, don’t forget your National Guard or Reserve community; they may have opportunities that are closer to where you live. AFCPE® will provide you with a letter of introduction explaining the program and your training to any company or organization you hope to work with to complete your training.
Who is paying for this fellowship?
The FINRA Foundation Fellowship for the Accredited Financial Counselor Program® is made possible through the generosity of the FINRA Investor Education Foundation. The FINRA Investor Education Foundation’s 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.
One of the Foundation's major initiatives is the development of a financial education program to improve the saving and investing knowledge of military service members. This fellowship program is part of that initiative. For additional information about the FINRA Foundation and its military financial education program, please visit http://www.finrafoundation.org/.
Who is NOT eligible for the fellowship?
The following individuals are not eligible for the fellowship:
- Current Civil Service employees
- Current employees of contractors serving the United States government
- Active duty or Reserve Component members of the Armed Forces
- Holders of active securities licenses
- Current National Military Family Association Staff, Volunteers, and Representatives
- Those already enrolled in the AFCPE® Certification programs
- Those who previously accepted the fellowship but did not complete the program
Who is eligible for the fellowship?
Current spouses or surviving spouses of a Uniformed Service member; Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (active duty, National Guard and Reserve, or retirees)
What is the FINRA Foundation Fellowship for the Accredited Financial Counselor Program®?
The fellowship is a grant to military spouses who want to become Accredited Financial Counselor®. The fellowship covers the enrollment fee, study materials, webinar study sessions and two attempts at each examination for the two required courses; a value of up to $1,170.
If I receive the Military Spouse Fellowship for the Accredited Financial Counselor Program®, will I have a contact at NMFA to help me through the process?
No. The National Military Family Association will only be involved in selection of the candidates for the grant. Once you receive notification from AFCPE® that you have received the fellowship, you will be provided with a packet of information from AFCPE® that outlines the steps you will need to take to become an Accredited Financial Counselor®. AFCPE® will provide you with the name and contact information of the individual you will be able to contact should you have questions and concerns.
How will Fellowship Recipients be selected?
AFCPE® and the National Military Family Association have established the following selection criteria. Your application will be reviewed by a team of judges comprised of AFCPE®, NMFA, and FINRA Investor Education Foundation representatives. Selection of grant recipients will be based upon the following selection criteria:
- Be the current spouse or surviving spouse of a Uniformed Service member; Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (active duty, National Guard and Reserve, or retirees)
- Hold at least a high school diploma or a GED
- Demonstrate an interest in financial education with some knowledge of military protocol
- Be a team-player, detail-oriented, and exhibit excellent follow-through skills
- Have strong interpersonal skills to work effectively with other military spouses, military families, military agencies, local federal government offices, individuals and groups at every level of society
- Be willing to dedicate the allotted time to complete the program. It is expected that the study component will require four to six hours of study time each week, for a period of 18 months. The study time will include toll-free conference calls with members of a study group
- Be willing to complete 400-1000 practicum hours (to be assigned by AFCPE® based on the individual’s previous experience in the field) by assisting as a paid employee or volunteer in financial education or financial counseling positions.
- Individuals holding an active securities license are not eligible to apply.
Preference will be given to…
- Military spouses with some college or who already hold a degree (AA, BA, MA) with a major in Business, Finance, Accounting, or within the Social Sciences such as Psychology, Sociology, Counseling, or similar field of study;
- Military spouses who are currently volunteering or working in personal finance, banks, credit unions, or counseling services; and/or,
- Military spouses with volunteer experience in the military community.
Once I become accredited, how do I maintain the certification?
You will be required to pay an annual certification fee of not less than $45 and obtain 30 hours of Continuing Education Units every two years. For additional post-certification requirements, visit http://www.afcpe.org/postcert/.
Until military families are relieved of the weight of war, we hope you will continue to contribute to their wellbeing.
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