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Financial Planning Profession Grows Diversity of its Workforce

NewsUSA

(NewsUSA) - Celebrations of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Black History Month often prompt consideration of the United States' diversity and the many contributions made by people of different races and ethnicities. These occasions also provide opportunities for communities, organizations and businesses to reflect on their efforts to support and promote diversity.

The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) recently marked several milestones in its effort to increase the diversity of CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER TM professionals. From 2019 to 2020, the number of Black and Latino CFP® professionals increased by 12.6 percent - nearly five times the growth rate of all CFP® professionals. The number of female CFP® professionals also increased in 2020 and now totals 20,633, reflecting a growth rate of 3.1 percent over 2019.

The total number of CFP® professionals continued to rise as well, reaching an all-time high of more than 88,700. The strong and consistent growth underscores the attractiveness of financial planning careers and how CFP® certification has become the must-have designation for professionals providing financial advice.

One way in which the financial planning profession has increased the diversity of its ranks is through scholarship programs that support aspiring advisors from different backgrounds. The CFP Board Center for Financial Planning, for example, offers six scholarship programs that help to cover the costs of the coursework required to become a CFP® professional. Five of those programs were created specifically to assist individuals from underrepresented populations within the financial planning profession in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, disability or sexual preference.

The Center announced 48 new scholarship awards at the end of 2020, bringing the total number of scholarships granted through its programs to 100, with a value of roughly $500,000. Of the nearly 50 awards granted in 2020, 32 were given to female students, 32 to Black students, 2 to Latino students, and 4 to members of other underrepresented populations in terms of disability or sexual orientation. These scholarships play a critical role in building the profession's talent pipeline and advancing workforce diversity. To date, 11 scholarship recipients have become CFP® professionals, while 37 others are in the final stages of their CFP® certification process.

To learn more about the Center scholarship programs and other resources for diverse candidates for CFP® certification, visit CFP.net/get-certified/tools-and-resources.

 

 

Buy Bitcoin with Cash at Your Local Market

NewsUSA

(NewsUSA) -Cryptocurrency continues to make waves through the financial world, and more everyday Americans are getting in on the action, too.

Companies such as Coinme are making cryptocurrency accessible to everyone. The company has announced an expanded partnership with Coinstar, the global leader in self-service coin counting, to launch more than 350 bitcoin-enabled Coinstar® kiosks in North Carolina and Connecticut. With this expansion, the companies are bringing bitcoin to retail locations, including Food Lion and Harris Teeter in North Carolina and Big Y World Class Markets in Connecticut. This launch increases the U.S. footprint of bitcoin-enabled Coinstar kiosks to more than 6,000 across 47 states.

"We're excited to launch hundreds of new bitcoin-enabled Coinstar kiosks in Connecticut and North Carolina," says Neil Bergquist, CEO of Coinme.

"Simple, trusted and accessible cash-to-bitcoin onramps help hard-working Americans, including the 24% that are unbanked, gain access to bitcoin, which has proven to be an increasingly beneficial store of value."

More consumers are embracing cryptocurrency for a variety of purposes.

A recent Coinstar survey found that of those who use cryptocurrency, 53% of users focus on investment, while 37% say they use it to protect their money.

Cryptocurrency is an especially helpful option for people who don't have access to traditional banks or other assets. These individuals can purchase a portion of a bitcoin, known as a Satoshi, and improve their financial independence through the digital currency revolution.

"More Americans are coming to see the value of bitcoin, and we see this reflected in the continued popularity of Coinme's bitcoin offering on our kiosks," says Jim Gaherity, CEO of Coinstar.

"Through our partnership, we offer an easy-to-use avenue to purchase bitcoin on select Coinstar kiosks via Coinme."

To get started, users only need a valid mobile phone number, a driver's license or state I.D and cash in U.S. dollars.

Turning cash to bitcoin at a Coinme-enabled Coinstar kiosk involves just four simple steps:

  • First, create an account.
  • Second, find a convenient kiosk near you.
  • Third, insert your cash into the kiosk (bills only).
  • Fourth, redeem for bitcoin on the spot.

Coinme bitcoin-enabled Coinstar kiosks have several advantages over bitcoin ATMs, including safety backed by the latest regulatory compliance, and the ability to access bitcoin instantly in the Coinme Wallet, without the need to input separate wallet information.

Visit coinme.com for more information and to find a Coinme-enabled Coinstar kiosk near you.

Governors Zero In On Window Film's Energy Savings

(NewsUSA) - A third of U.S. Governors have recognized window film as a cost-effective solution to reducing energy costs in homes, protecting skin and home decor from the sun's damaging UV rays, and enhanced window glass safety. The International Window Film Association (IWFA) is sharing recent proclamations kindly made by those governors on its website.

"Consumers and government officials are zeroing in on window films as a cost-effective energy saving solution designed to reduce high utility bills and carbon emissions and they can be installed at about one-tenth the cost of a re-placement window and offer similar performance ratings," explains Darrell Smith, executive director of the IWFA.

Window films, which may be installed in a day or less without significant disruption, are widely seen to save about five to 10 percent of a building's total energy bill. Many window films, which are all permanently adhered to the glass, are also designed to block 40 to 60 percent of room heat being lost through glass during the heating season while still reducing air conditioning costs by 30 percent during the cooling season.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), cooling and heating account for more than half of the energy use in a typical U.S. home, making it the largest energy expense for most homes. The DOE also points out that roughly 40 percent of unwanted heat that builds up in a home comes in through windows and that windows also account for up to 50 percent of a building's energy loss.

Consumer awareness of the energy saving benefit of window film has increased nearly 50 percent in eight years, from 54 percent of Americans in 2014 being aware that window film can help control interior temperatures, to 79 percent of homeowners this year being aware that window film may improve the energy saving performance of their existing windows today.

While window films differ in how they perform based on how they are manufactured, they can reduce solar heat gain in your home by as much as 80 percent. This means fewer if any hot spots, more even interior room temperatures and less power consumption so your air conditioning system may keep up with the sun's heat.

This benefit is especially noticeable when the sun is at it's peak energy transmittance during the day, which is when utility companies have to produce more power to meet the increased peak demand from both homeowners and businesses. Find window film at www.iwfa.com

Diverse Candidates Needed in the Financial Planning Profession

(NewsUSA) - Interest in, and demand for ,personal financial advice has never been greater in the United States, due in large part to the aging of the Baby Boomer generation. At the same time, the demographics of wealth in the country are changing. The purchasing power of Black and Latino communities continues to rise, women control one-third of household financial assets, and about $30 trillion in wealth is projected to shift to Millennials.

The current financial planner workforce, however, does not reflect these realities. There are more CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professionals over the age of 70 than under the age of 30. Among the more than 92,000 CFP® professionals, only 23% are women, and about 8% are Latino and 7% are Black -- all smaller proportions than the broader U.S. population.

The gap between the current state of the financial planning profession and what is needed in this shifting landscape presents big career opportunities for aspiring CFP® professionals, particularly female and minority candidates.

If you're looking for a rewarding and flexible career, financial planning could be a good fit for you. Here are four benefits of financial planning careers:

1. Opportunity to make a difference. CFP® professionals help people in important, life-changing ways. By taking a holistic look at their clients' finances, CFP® professionals help families build wealth, manage financial challenges and achieve their goals.

2. Career flexibility. You may choose to work for a large firm, a small company, a bank or a broker dealer. You may decide to start your own business. About 20% of personal financial planners are self-employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

3. Work-life balance. Financial planning careers offer the flexibility to balance professional demands with your personal life, whether you are making time for family or for other activities that are important to you.

4. Financial rewards. Financial planning careers offer excellent income potential that is comparable to other distinguished careers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for personal financial planners is $89,000.

The CFP Board Center for Financial Planning offers a variety of resources and programs to help you launch a financial planning career, including a Guide to Careers in Financial Planning that provides information on career paths for financial planners and the types of firms that hire them. The Center also administers scholarship programs that help cover the costs of education requirements for CFP® certification, as well as a mentorship program that can connect you with experienced CFP® professionals. Visit CFP.net/Center to learn more.

 

<h1>These Realtors Will Pay You to Let Them Handle Your Home's Sale</h1>

(NewsUSA) - A real estate brokerage paying you for the honor of handling the sale of your house?

It's true -- and maybe just the latest sign of how sizzling hot the real estate market is.

In fact, under the innovative Homeowner Benefit Program, you don't even have to be ready to sell now -- or even in the near future -- to immediately receive a check that typically runs between $800 to $3,000. You just have to agree that MV Realty, which launched the program in late 2018 and continues to expand it across the nation, will broker the sale for you if and when you are ready.

"It's a win-win situation," says Amanda Zachman, the founder of MV Realty, which has the highest 5.0 rating on the real estate website Zillow.com. "The homeowner gets money now and ongoing access to a high-quality real estate brokerage that believes real estate is more than just some one-time transactional deal. And we get a future client."

Intrigued? Then before we even get into the details, consider this month's headline from Fortune.com that should warm the heart of every potential home seller: "It's the Mother of All Seller's Markets."

Meaning, the two key factors that made 2021 a record-shattering year, with cities like Miami witnessing home prices soaring by as much as 32.5 percent, both remain in play:

* A tight inventory.

* Demand so rampant -- including from investors paying cash -- that, as CNBC reported, "houses are selling on average 10 days faster than they were a year ago" when all you heard about was people fleeing big cities because of COVID.

"On top of all that," notes Zachman, "what we're now seeing are many buyers looking to lock in still relatively low mortgage rates in anticipation of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates multiple times this year."

Headquartered in Delray Beach, Fla., MV Realty now offers the Homeowner Benefit Program through its licensed agents in 33 states (Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin).

What makes the program so extraordinary is that homeowners get to keep the money from the brokerage, which is based on the estimated value of their home, even if they never choose to sell.

That's money that can be used for anything they want. Home renovations. A much-needed vacation. One homeowner was able to host their 5-year-old's dream birthday party at Disneyworld.

Meanwhile, homeowners get the benefit of a top-rated real estate brokerage's expertise, including information delivered on everything from current market trends to a personalized home analysis.

And if they do choose to sell? That's when the full-service MV Realty really jumps into action by using its highly structured proprietary process of listing and valuing a home. And -- here's the key -- maximizing said home's marketability by using its multiple resources to promote it both nationally and internationally complete with professionally taken photographs. A sale earns the brokerage the competitive local commission rate.

"With the market the way it is, now is one of the best times ever to sell," says Zachman

 

Financial Planning a Mission for Military Families

(NewsUSA) - Given the unique challenges and frequent unpredictability of a military lifestyle, financial planning is especially valuable and necessary for military families. There are several opportunities for military families to reach their financial and savings goals, such as low-cost investments, loans, insurance and legal protection.

Applying the same mission mindset to managing finances that you bring to managing your military career can be especially helpful, says Steve Repak, CFP,® an Army veteran who went on to a career as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional after 12 years of military service.

"If I had done a little planning and executed on what might have been a slightly painful budget when I first joined the military, I wouldn't have been left with so much credit card debt," he acknowledges.

To make the most of your finances, plan a strategy for saving and investment just as you would plan a military maneuver. Here are a few helpful tips to help you reach your financial planning goals:

* Identify your goal. First, identify where you are and where you want to be -- then outline the steps to get there. Start by figuring out your monthly income and expenses, and create a budget with how much you want to have in savings each month. Put a plan in place to reduce or eliminate spending to meet your goal.

* Turn to your team. Military families can consult a range of resources for help in developing a financial plan, including Army Community Services (ACS) for Army personnel. In addition, a CFP® professional can help clarify financial goals and objectives and offer strategies for meet`ing them.

* Be determined and take action. What you know about financial planning is less important than what you do about it, Repak says. Adopt a "war fighting spirit," and do what is necessary to accomplish your mission. Whether it is saving money, reducing debt or building wealth for retirement, taking specific steps for money management now will pay off with financial freedom in the future.

Visit LetsMakeAPlan.org for more advice and tips to help military families meet their financial goals.

 

4 Benefits of Financial Planning for Service Members and Veterans

(NewsUSA) - Regardless of whether you are active duty or a veteran, a career in the military requires many individuals and their families to make sacrifices for their country. Thankfully, financial stability does not have to be one of them.

There are many resources for members of the military and their families to remain financially secure, as well as practical advice to manage their finances without additional stress.

Personal situations may be different for active duty, deployed and retired service members. But all can benefit from having a comprehensive financial plan in place and working with a qualified financial advisor.

Military OneSource offers financial counseling to the military community through the U.S. Defense Department, but you can also find a local CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professional to provide you with competent, ethical and holistic financial planning advice. Some CFP® professionals even specialize in working with military and government clients.

U.S. Navy veteran Mark Wernig, CFP® offers four examples of how military members and their families can benefit from developing a financial plan:

1. Create a budget. Keep track of your income and spending. For deployed service members, this may also involve determining who and which funds will pay the bills. Special pay or entitlements may boost your spending or savings.

2. Invest in savings plans. A CFP® professional can help you make sense of the different savings options, including the Thrift Savings Plan and TSP Savings Deposit Program, and low-cost investment opportunities available to service members. They will also make sure you've established a sufficient emergency fund.

3. Manage your debt. A financial plan includes the amount of debt you owe, the interest rate on each debt and your monthly payment amounts. It also lays out which debts you will pay first, or put the most money toward. "In addition to mapping out this information, a CFP® professional can help you determine if military-focused financial programs, including the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, can help reduce your debt," adds Wernig.

4. Maximize benefits programs. People who have served in the military have access to special financial benefits. This can include healthcare services, mortgages with no or low down payment, GI Bill educational benefits and special legal protections, among others. A CFP® professional can help you determine and take advantage of the varied benefits to which you are entitled.

Focusing on financial preparedness and sustaining healthy financial habits will help you and your family navigate the challenges of military life.

You can use the "Find a CFP® Professional" search tool on LetsMakeaPlan.org to locate CFP® professionals who focus on clients in the military. You can also connect with local veteran- and military-based community organizations for more information on the special programs and benefits available to you and your family.

Don't Commit These Common Financial Mistakes

(NewsUSA) - Deciding to select and partner with a financial planner to bring all the pieces of your financial life together is a big step for you and your future.

But before you meet with your CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ for the first time, you should familiarize yourself with the financial planning process, gather key information, have an idea about your goals and prepare a list of questions.

"You should also have an idea of what your CFP® professional is likely to discuss at the meeting," says Elaine King, CFP®.

This preparation is very important, but unfortunately, often forgotten by many new clients when meeting their financial planner for the first time.

"I have found that when some clients first meet me, they spend a lot of time over-explaining or justifying their prior financial decisions," says Charles Weeks, CFP® "In this case, don't worry. Your CFP® professional is not here to judge you -- only to help you!"

Below are some common financial mistakes that many clients make before they meet with a financial planner.

"If any of these sound familiar to you, you may want to address them before meeting with your CFP® professional the first time," Weeks adds.

- Insurance issues. Many people don't know what their insurance policies cover and don't cover. "At a minimum, you need to make sure you carry enough underlying liability insurance to protect your assets and income if you are involved in an accident or lawsuit," Weeks advises.

- Insufficient emergency funds. Weeks says he rarely sees clients with the recommended "emergency fund," three to six months' worth of nondiscretionary expenses. An emergency fund should be kept in a cash or cash equivalent, so it maintains its expected value and can be readily available when needed.

- Cash-hoarding concerns. Some cash is good, but hoarding too much cash can be detrimental. The main problem: Inflation will reduce the purchasing power of cash over time.

- Debt-management doubts. "Know the difference between good and bad debt," Weeks says. Good debt is debt we hold on appreciating assets such as a mortgage or a business loan. Bad debt is debt owed on depreciating assets, such as high-interest-rate consumer debts. Bad debts should be prioritized and paid as quickly as possible.

- Estate-planning procrastination. Your loved ones need a blueprint on dealing with the financial consequences of your passing. "By leaving family members unprepared, you leave them vulnerable to financial hardship on top of the emotional hardship they already bear," says Weeks.

If you are guilty of any of these financial pitfalls, explain them to your CFP® professional, and he or she will help you develop a sound financial plan.

Visit LetsMakeAPlan.org for more information on how to find a CFP® professional, common financial missteps and how to make the most of that first meeting.

 

What Women Should Know Before Starting Their Own Business

(NewsUSA) - The number of women starting their own businesses continues to rise. According to data from American Express, women create more than 1,800 new businesses in the United States each day. As people reassess their careers and goals in the wake of the pandemic, more women are making the decision to start their own businesses and be their own bosses.

However, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that approximately 20 percent of new small businesses fail in their first year. The most common reasons that small businesses fail include: a lack of capital or funding, inadequate management and/or a bad business model.

Fortunately, smart financial planning can help avoid these common pitfalls.

Based on interviews with successful women entrepreneurs, Scott Ward, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, proposes creating a financial plan that incorporates three sequential stages of the entrepreneurial journey: the launch phase, the lead phase and the letting-go phase.

Launch. Ward advises women starting a business to transition into it, and not quit their day jobs just yet. This can be an effective way to manage cash flow. They should also pay themselves for their work and take a paycheck, maintain good credit and keep a close eye on their capital.

Lead. The lead phase is when business owners need to assess how to be leaders in their industries. Women who inherit existing businesses may need to innovate and invest in employees with fresh ideas. Expanding businesses must also be aware of legal and financial hurdles.

Let go (or don't). Don't forget about succession planning. Even as you enjoy the success of your business, a financial plan can be especially helpful on all areas affected by succession -- including business transition, tax planning, investment strategies and estate planning.

When choosing a CFP® professional to guide the launch of a startup business, Lynn Ballou, CFP® reminds women to ask questions and make an informed decision. In addition to asking financial advisors the typical questions, women entrepreneurs may also want to ask them to share:

  • A sample financial plan for a startup business,
  • How privacy and cyber security are handled, and
  • How to create a team of advisors (if needed) to address various elements of business, such as insurance or tax.

"You can ask these questions at your first meeting or send them in advance, so the planner is ready to address them when you meet," Ballou says. "You might also find some of this information on the advisor's website."

If you are a female entrepreneur (or are interested in becoming one) and would like to collaborate further on a specific planning strategy, connect with a CFP® professional today. More resources and articles on small business planning and financial topics relevant for women can be found at LetsMakeAPlan.org.

 

Keeping Your Financial Assets Safe from Identity Theft

(NewsUSA) - October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, when people and organizations learn how to reduce their cybersecurity risks and protect themselves online.

Although people are becoming smarter in the way they handle cyberattacks, cybersecurity threats remain prevalent at financial services firms. In fact, the cyber and intelligence unit of BAE Systems found that 74% of financial institutions, such as banks and insurers, have experienced a rise in cyberattacks since the pandemic began.

This is why consumers need to stay vigilant when it comes to sharing their financial information.

"The online world makes many aspects of financial planning quicker and easier," says Felicia Gopaul, CFP®. "Unfortunately, it also opens the door to identity fraud."

Identity fraud is any instance of using someone else's identifying information without their permission. The most common instances of identity fraud are stealing a credit card number, insurance information, or a Social Security number to get a job or open an account.

"Older adults are often vulnerable to identity fraud by family members," adds Gopaul.

"As you age, you are more likely to rely on friends and family to assist you with making financial planning appointments and handling your banking. This trust potentially opens you up to becoming a victim if you don't monitor your banking and investment accounts," she emphasizes.

When hiring a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professional for any reason -- whether to establish future goals, manage debt or enter retirement -- make cybersecurity part of the conversation. Ask your CFP® professional how your financial and personal information will be protected, what security provisions are in place for transactions, and how they handle naming trusted contacts.

At home, be as conscious of cybersecurity as you would be in an office. No one wants to think ill of family or friends, but some people find it irresistible to peek if you leave bills, financial statements or financial planning documents lying around, or if you have passwords taped to the computer.

If you discover that you are a victim of identity theft, whether from a friend or an unseen stranger online, take these three steps immediately:

* File a police report. Even if you suspect a friend or family member, failing to file a report will leave you liable for any expenses.

* Put a lock on your credit file. This will prevent others from applying for credit using your personal information. This strategy keeps an identity thief from continuing to take out credit using your information.

* Get professional help. If you work with a CFP® professional, tell them what has happened. They can support you in monitoring your accounts during your reviews. Whether you have experienced identity theft or not, some CFP® professionals might be able to set up triggers similar to those sent by banks that ask, "Did you make this transaction?"

The most important thing you can do is keep your private financial information secure. A dose of caution about the financial information you leave unprotected will reduce the opportunity for you to be a victim of identity theft. A CFP® professional can guide you and help ensure that you have confidence today and a more secure tomorrow.

Have you already been a victim of identity fraud, or want to better prepare? At LetsMakeAPlan.org, you can learn how you can recover your finances and bring all the pieces of your financial life together in a safe and secure manner with the help of a CFP® professional.

 

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