Training, professional development, and certification for practitioners and programs.
Local, state, and national stakeholder networks that support and develop practitioner efforts.
Service delivery models and the underlying data systems that support them.
Fran Rosebush is the Deputy Director of Field Engagement at CFED which works to empower millions of families to achieve financial security and contribute to an opportunity economy through scaling practical solutions, promoting policy change that builds wealth, and supporting the efforts of leaders in local communities.
44 Wall Street, Suite 605
New York, NY 10005
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In the past several years, CFED has witnessed the growth of the financial coaching field. From our vantage point as the backbone organization for the Assets & Opportunity Network, service providers have an increased interest in making financial coaching services available to more people in their communities. For these organizations—which range from community-based organizations to local government agencies to statewide coalitions—thoughtful standardization of the financial coaching field, especially clarifying coaching definitions and identifying common outcomes for tracking, is a clear long-term goal. Network members say it will allow for greater partner collaboration, creation of referral networks and the design of new programs. Those working on financial coaching have already learned invaluable lessons that can and should inform the development of standards for the field. Any standardization discourse should build on the deep bench of knowledge in the field by incorporating the sharing of lessons learned, frank discussion of challenges, and robust debate of the types of standards that would enhance or hinder the work of practitioners.
To drive the uptake of field-tested financial coaching best practices, the Assets & Opportunity Network has focused on Network member-driven peer learning to explore common challenges and promising solutions.
Earlier this year, we facilitated a virtual learning event on financial coaching with the Center for Financial Security and the Financial Clinic, for which more than 280 members signed up. At the end of the event, every single attendee who completed an evaluation said they wanted more learning events on financial coaching – specifically on coaching frameworks, tracking outcomes, effective delivery models and accessing quality and affordable trainings. In another Network learning event, attendees called for more opportunities to connect with their peers to discuss how they are running their programs, training their staff, selecting and tracking outcomes and more. Participants asked to exchange contact information to be able to continue learning from each other. These events confirm the demand for trusted peer connections to share hands-on, practical tools and resources.
The Assets & Opportunity Network connects peers through webinars, working groups to tackle issues, learning groups to build capacity, informal group calls to solve pressing problems and simple peer-to-peer connections to share ideas and practice. Effective peer learning provides a platform for organizations to share relevant experiences, ask timely questions, and discuss issues that influence and inform each other’s work. We also believe that effective peer learning involves tracking what is shared to make resources available to a broader audience and inform a national conversation. For example, at the Network Leadership Convening in 2015, we held a brainstorming workshop with Network Leaders to discuss standardization of the financial coaching field. We assumed that the major concerns around standardization would be around common definitions and outcomes. While these were large concerns, we also learned that the timing of developing and adopting standards was a major concern, as the field does not want to stifle program innovation at this point in the field’s development. We also saw emerging learning about financial coaching’s place on the financial capability service spectrum, and how that translated into customer experiences – an area the group wanted to continue exploring as practical experience expands.
We have seen great demand for peer learning opportunities as we conduct one-on-one technical assistance with organizations and then share what we learn with a broader audience. Through in-depth technical assistance projects, we have explored members’ pain points more deeply and used peer connections to help find solutions. For example, CFED is providing technical assistance to a group of service providers in Miami that want to develop a financial coaching referral network. Before they could start building a referral system and tracking common metrics, they realized that they first needed a common definition of coaching and shared agreement on delivery standards. This experience, as well as others from the field, affirmed the desire for peer learning: the organizations asked us whether others had navigated similar processes before and whether there were models and experts they could learn from. Learning from similarly situated organizations enables service providers to avoid pitfalls and more quickly and successfully adopt new systems.
Across the country, Network members are taking initiative to coordinate, streamline and scale financial coaching in their communities. At the city and county level, service providers like those in Miami are streamlining service delivery by creating community-wide referral networks. Others are integrating financial coaching into other social service delivery systems, such as workforce development, emergency assistance and housing programs. Statewide asset-building coalitions, like the Midas Collaborative, are curating and sharing lessons learned by member organizations. RAISE Texas, another statewide coalition, is facilitating conversations with its members on common definitions and setting standards across their state. These efforts underscore not only the resourcefulness of the field, but also the high level of interest in establishing shared standards for the financial coaching field.
Our experience coordinating peer learning with Network members on financial coaching has demonstrated to us the power of a professional community to effect change locally and statewide, and ultimately inform a conversation nationally. Going forward, the organizations experimenting and driving this work in their communities must be provided with opportunities to connect with each other and be part of national efforts to standardize and professionalize the financial coaching field. To that end, funders, government agencies and national intermediaries need to sit at the same table with these local and statewide leaders to design shared solutions that draw upon their experiences. As consensus emerges, the Assets & Opportunity Network and other national intermediaries provide vehicles for field-wide adoption of best practices through ongoing peer learning opportunities and technical assistance that incorporates peer connections.
There are many parts to play in defining, setting standards, funding, piloting and training the field. That is why it is so important for experts on the ground to connect with and learn from each other. Fundamentally changing the way the field helps individuals take control of their financial lives and build their financial capability is no small task and will require the intelligence, experience and resources from a broad range of stakeholders.
44 Wall Street, Suite 605 New York, NY 10005 646.362.1645 phone 646.590.8743 fax
44 Wall Street, Suite 605, New York, NY 10005
646.362.1645 phone 646.590.8743 fax