Teaching Financial Literacy – Certification, Speakers and Professional Development
The NFEC’s Certified Financial Education Instructors possess the knowledge, credibility, and confidence to effectively start teaching financial literacy. Graduates of the course take their place among the most highly-qualified personal finance educators, with the ability to teach essential money management concepts effectively to people of all ages.
The Certified Financial Education Instructor coursework has been accepted for Continuing Education (CE) credits and is offered through several universities. Graduates become part of the first national speaker’s bureau dedicated to financial education experts and advocates: the Personal Finance Speakers Association (PFSA).
The Connection Between Sales and Teaching Financial Literacy
by Traci Allan, Certified Financial Education Instructor
Methods proven effective to sell products work very effectively when teaching financial literacy as well. Often we have limited time with our participants, so we must focus what little time we have for maximum impact.
Think about it: salespeople are the backbone of a capitalist society. Good sales require uncovering a person’s needs and goals, building relationships, proposing solutions, and motivating the person to take action.
Educators make very good salespeople and sales people make great educators. Each are already experts in their respective fields. They already understand the needs and desires of their clients (students); learning to be an educator requires focus on how to build audience rapport. Good educators align presentations with benefits that motivate the class. They share stories to make topics real and relate content to the audience. The financial education service they provide motivate students to take specific action steps, and gather constructive feedback to improve future lessons.
The persuasion or sales approach to teaching financial literacy includes five phases: preparation, listening and rapport, offering solutions, taking action, and feedback and resources.
The first key to being prepared is belief. You must believe in what you’re teaching, just as the best salesmen believe in the value of their products. The benefits covered in the first section of the Certified Financial Education Instructors training program highlight the value that a practical financial education can offer.
Knowing your material is the second part of preparation. If you’re unsure about the presentation, the audience will read lack of confidence and won’t trust the material. Take the time you need to comprehend what you’re teaching and anticipate questions your audience may ask. You don’t have to know everything; if you don’t know an answer, say, “Hey, I don’t know, but I’ll find out and get back to you!” Your audience will appreciate your honesty and sincere desire to help.
Know your audience: get as much information as possible about each group to which you present. Not only will it help you prepare appropriate material and stories, but you can mentally prepare for the tough questions and attitudes an audience may throw your way.
Set clear goals when teaching financial literacy. Make them specific, achievable, and realistic. For example, you might say, “My participants will improve their test scores by 25% and graduate the course wanting to learn more about personal finance.”
Listening and Rapport:
The second phase of the sales approach to teaching money management involves listening. Listening is critical to making a sale—and we’re talking about active listening, where you keep probing to get the whole picture of your audience’s motivation. Your goal is to learn the audience psychographics. Psychographics give us an understanding of attitudes, values, lifestyles, and opinions. The marketing world uses the term IAO (Interests, Activities, and Opinions). This audience understanding provides direction on how to shape your presentation.
Obviously this phase requires some give-and-take with the audience. Ask students why they’re there. What do they want to get out of the presentation? Listen to what they tell you and follow up with probing questions—why, when, where, how? Each person is different, but the more you know about your participants the better.
Build rapport with the audience. Rapport can be defined as building trust and getting “in sync” with others. Engage in small talk about topics and invite the audience to give opinions. Share personal stories, be real; engage the group by letting a spirit of fun shine through your presentation. Show participants that you really care about their wellbeing.
This phase builds on earlier phases. You can’t offer solutions until you truly understand where your participants are now, and their future goals.
Educate with benefits, not features. For example, say you’re selling a health drink. A feature of the drink might be, “Provides 100% RDA of Vitamin D.” That won’t sell someone the drink. Instead, focus on its benefits: “Makes you feel energetic and healthy.”
Translate that example to financial education. “Learn about credit,” is a feature of the program. That won’t appeal to anyone. Focus on the benefits: “Save $10,000 off your next car purchase.” Benefits are what motivate people to take action.
Subject differentiation works too. Show students how financial literacy is different from other subjects. For example, this topic will affect every aspect of their lives. The subject relates directly to their ability to live desired lifestyles. Quality financial literacy curriculum will address this fact proactively and give you a good guide to follow.
If you’ve done the first three phases right, moving them to take action will follow naturally. Watch your audience’s reactions, nodding heads and facial expressions. Time the presentation of action steps to occur when emotions are high.
Assume that you’ve closed the sale—you’ve motivated them to take positive action toward financial health. Ask, “Now that you know saving and investing $100 a month can grow into a million dollars, what first step will you take?” Strive to get a commitment. “You know I want what’s best for you. I am 100% sure this information will make your lives easier and more fun. Raise your hand to promise me that you’ll continue to learn about money.”
Here’s another approach: offer them alternatives. “Either you can have bad credit and go through the embarrassment of being denied a loan, or you can have good credit, no worries, and an extra ten thousand in your pocket. So how will you start building your credit?”
Ask how their vision of the future has changed. “Now that you’ve learned this information and plan to learn more, how do you think your life will be different in five years? What will you do this week to make sure you succeed?”
Feedback and Resources:
After you’re done presenting, solicit audience feedback. What did they like? Which pieces didn’t resonate with them? Ask how you could improve your presentation. Try to uncover their objections to the material at each step when teaching financial literacy coursework.
Answer objections using the “feel, felt, found” method. Maybe a participant says, “But I need my Starbucks coffee every morning.” You might respond, “I understand how you feel. A lot of my friends felt the same way about their morning coffee. But one of my friends found that, by cutting expensive coffee out of his routine, he was able to save enough money for a down payment on a car.” Then follow up with a close: “So will you start buying coffee at a less expensive shop, or make it at home?”
The NFEC hopes these brief tips will help you improve the impact of your financial literacy campaign.