Q-and-A: How Military Spouses Can Earn a Key Financial Credential ... for Free

Q-and-A: How Military Spouses Can Earn a Key Financial Credential ... for Free
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Securing an Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC) certification can help military spouses stand out from the pack as they build a portable career. And a program through the FINRA Foundation makes becoming an AFC much easier by covering the certification’s training and testing costs.


MOAA sat down with Heather Baker, AFC, FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship Program assistant, to get details on the offering. Learn more, including how to apply, at this link.


Q. What is the FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship Program?


A. The FINRA Investor Education Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship is an opportunity for qualifying military spouses to achieve the nationally Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC) certification at no cost due to the generous funding of the FINRA Foundation. The fellowship allows three years to complete the requirements for certification: passing the exam and completing assigned experience hours. The funding covers the study materials: three textbooks, an online study guide, eight live review sessions, and two attempts at the exam.


Since launching in 2006, 670 military spouses have successfully completed the FINRA Fellowship.


[RELATED: New Program Opens Up More Jobs for Overseas Military Spouses]


Q. How has completion of the fellowship improved employment opportunities for military spouses?


A. The certification has allowed for a career starting point for an underemployed population. Certification has also added a critical tool to their existing skills, enhancing the work they already have a passion for.


Q. As a military community, we move on average every two to three years. Are Spouse Fellows better equipped to maintain a career on the move?


A. National accreditation lends to portability—spouses who PCS do not have to recertify in each state or OCONUS. Most Department of Defense installations offer financial services allowing spouses to seek employment where their servicemember is stationed and within the community. The recognition of the value of the certification has also increased employment opportunities within the civilian community, including:

  • Family and criminal court – assessing child support, bankruptcies, and repayment of fines, court fees, and restitution.
  • Social work – connecting those in need with budgeting education and information to access public programs.
  • Medical facilities – working to clarify and assist with insurance and billing confusion.
  • Banks and credit unions – offering credit counseling to their clients to identify and prevent default
  • Employment Assistance Programs (EAP) – these programs recognize employees are more productive if they are not feeling financially overwhelmed. and EAP finance becomes a recruiting tool as a portion of the benefits package.
  • Incorporation in the justice system for post-incarcerated – assisting with the prevention of recidivism.
  • Family counselors – addressing the overlap of conflict within family/marriage related to finances, and including this body of knowledge to provide more well-rounded counseling.


[RELATED: New Law Brings Long-Sought Relief for Military Spouses on the Move]

Q. How can interested military spouses apply for the FINRA Fellowship Program?

A. The application opens each year on March 1. They can read eligibility rules and an FAQ, and get link to the application, here.


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About the Author

Jen Goodale
Jen Goodale

Goodale is MOAA's Director of Government Relations for Military Family and Survivor Policy.