Now That You Are A Financial Expert–What Next?

I wrote in a previous blog how as a CPA you are the default personal financial planning expert in your office.  Once you get comfortable answering the occasional question from your coworkers about why they should invest in the company 401(k) plan to get the company match or how, unless they are the CEO or CFO, they probably won’t have to pay any taxes when they sell their house, you may be ready to move to the next level.

The AICPA launched its 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy campaign over five years ago and it has provided the public great information to help educate them on a variety of financial topics from insurance to buying a house to paying for college education to planning for retirement.  The public website can be found at www.360financialliteracy.org (or at www.valueyourmoney.org with a Texas bent for my colleagues in the TSCPA).  This is a great website to share with your coworkers, but maybe you want to do even more.

One thing you could do is hold a lunch and learn, but, besides being scary presenting to that many people, it would be a lot of work to put together a presentation.  The AICPA is here to help.  We can’t make your nerves go away, but we can reduce the work load by supplying you with ready to go financial literacy presentations which can be found here. You have to be an AICPA member to access this site, but if you are, it will supply you with ready to go presentations set up by life stage just like the 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy website.  These presentations can be especially effective in smaller companies and locations that don’t have access to big corporate training programs. 

In addition to providing a valuable service to your fellow employees you can also use the presentation as an opportunity to enhance your skills.  And that is even easier to do when the audience is eager to learn which is always the case with financial literacy presentations; so check out the website and see if there is a presentation that might be especially relevant to your co-workers.  You might also want to check with the HR department (or whoever is in charge of such things) to make sure you do the right things to make it clear the company is not offering specific financial advice.  This really isn’t an issue with the AICPA presentations, but it’s better to make sure you clear the program with the right people up front.

Finally, there is one more site I want to mention to you that you can share with your co-workers. Total Tax Insights  is the most recent addition to the AICPA family to financial literacy tools.  It is a calculator that will show you the total tax – federal, state and local – that you pay in a year.  It goes way beyond income tax and includes things like property tax, tax on your phone bill, tax on the gas you purchase, even the tax on that glass of wine you will enjoy this evening.  The tool is customized to calculate the tax based on where you live across the more than 3,000 counties in the U.S.  The most important thing it does is peal back the layers of complexity and transparently show the facts.  What you or your co-workers do with those facts is up to you, but at least with the AICPA’s help, everyone can now get to the real facts as a place to start the debate.

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