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AICPA leaders, Head of GAO call on CPAs to help address financial literacy needs of America.

On May 17, AICPA Chairman of the Board S. Scott Voynich and AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon announced the inception of "360 Degrees of Financial Literacy," a multi-faceted personal finance education program designed for everyone from school-age children to retirees. Joining them was U.S. Comptroller General David Walker, head of the U.S. General Accounting Office, who himself is a CPA. Together, they called on CPAs to take a leadership role in educating Americans about ways to take control of their financial destiny.

Now more than ever, Americans need the financial literacy expertise that CPAs offer. Rising consumer debt, complicated investment programs, confusing tax laws, and a lack of estate planning are just a few of the factors that cause many people not to reach their personal financial goals. A front-page article in the Feb. issue of The CPA Letter outlined the AICPA's commitment to financial education over the years.

"Financial illiteracy crosses every socioeconomic boundary in America, a fact that surprises many of us," said Voynich. "Regardless of income level, individuals cannot develop the plans to realize the full potential of their lives if they do not have financial knowledge. The message is clear: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."

"Educating Americans to be financially literate is a life-long process," said Melancon. "It starts when we teach four-year-olds to save and put money in the bank, and continues to when we assist Americans in reaching a secure retirement."

As part of the financial literacy initiative, Melancon announced our agreement with the National Endowment for Financial Education to jointly undertake a national public service announcement campaign, scheduled to launch in early 2005. NEFE specifically requested the Institute invest in and help develop the women's financial literacy education element of the campaign based on the AICPA's successes with its Women's Financial Health Week programs.

To extend the message of 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy to all Americans, the AICPA also has established the National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. The commission will offer thought leadership and build liaisons with key influential groups. Moreover, a Grassroots Mobilization Team will work with the state CPA societies to create local programs that involve CPAs in their communities.

Other plans include a dedicated Web site for both consumers and CPAs; a series of weekly financial literacy chats on USA Today's Web site, the first of which was held May 20; a new, complimentary online CPE course on the crucial issues of financial literacy; and awarding of a Certificate for Volunteer Financial Literacy Service.

While the AICPA is focusing on improving the financial literacy of individuals, Comptroller General David Walker is focusing on the financial literacy of our nation. He emphasized the importance of CPAs in that role.

"By virtue of their experience and knowledge, CPAs are the right individuals for this task," Walker said. "Every time CPAs improve a client's financial condition, they are by extension contributing to the economic well-being of our nation."

This month's "Chair's Corner" also talks about the profession's involvement in financial literacy. Page 12 features an article on the AICPA's role in the Project for Financial Independence. Stay tuned to The CPA Letter for progress on this important initiative as it unfolds.
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Title Annotation:American Institute of Certified Public Accountants; General Accounting Office; Certified Public Accountant
Publication:CPA Letter
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2004
Words:536
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