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Institute supports CPA financial literacy volunteers.

When the AICPA launched its 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy campaign at a May 17, 2004, news conference with U.S. Comptroller General David M. Walker, it promised to deliver a wealth of assistance to CPAs volunteering to help Americans better understand and manage their finances (www.aicpa.org/pubs/jofa/aug2004/special. htm). Those resources, described below, are now available. They include an online information and support center, a free CPE course, program literature, a database for volunteers and a Web site where both CPAs and consumers can find practical advice on personal finance.

A CUSTOMIZED APPROACH

Many resources are designed to help consumers learn more about personal finance, but 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy stands out from the others by giving CPAs an effective way to help individuals focus on the specific personal finance issues affecting them most. The program explores--and provides general guidance on--the fiscal challenges in each of 11 stages in life: growing up; attending college; pursuing a career; serving in the military; being in a long-term personal relationship; raising a family; buying and maintaining a home; starting and running a business; enduring life crises, such as a medical emergency, divorce or unemployment; simultaneously caring for children and aging parents; and planning for and living in retirement.

The order and specificity this structure brings to CPAs' volunteer financial education efforts will enable them to confidently volunteer for the campaign, knowing they'll be asked to contribute only in the areas they know best.

BACKING UP CPA VOLUNTEERS

Through its Grassroots Mobilization Team, which collaborates with state societies to get CPAs across the nation involved in community-based financial education, the AICPA is encouraging thousands of CPAs to join the 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy campaign and help teach the American public--from school children to retirees--how to better recognize and respond to financial issues. To maximize the effectiveness of their volunteer efforts, CPAs can use the following campaign resources:

* The CPA Financial Literacy Resource Center (www. aicpa.org/financialliteracy), an online clearinghouse for information and resources, including reference materials, news and links to the Web sites of other organizations, such as

* State CPA society financial literacy programs, resources (www.aicpa.org/financialliteracy/state_cpa_flp.asp) and staff contacts (www.aicpa.org/financialliteracy/ download/SS_Fin_lit_contacts.pdf).

* The Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy (www.jumpstart.org)--a nonprofit umbrella organization for corporations, government agencies, foundations and others dedicated to improving financial literacy throughout the United States (See Jump-Starting Financial Literacy," JofA, Dec. 03, page 56; www.aicpa.org/pubs/jofa/dec2003/breit.htm).

* Free CPE (www.aicpa.org/financialliteracy/CPEcourse. asp). The AICPA offers CPAs a continuing education course--worth two CPE credits--at no charge to prepare them for service as financial literacy volunteers in their communities. It covers the basic financial literacy issues most important to consumers.

* CPA mobilization tool kits (www.aicpa.org/financialliteracy/CPA Mobil_Kits.asp), created by the AICPA and the California Society of CPAs, that focus on the 11 life stages described above. The tools include background information on basic personal finance concepts and talking points, a model speech and a PowerPoint presentation for public speaking engagements. CPAs can use these materials to promote financial literacy in their communities.

* A volunteer database (http://volunteers.aicpa.org/financialliteracy). CPAs can register to demonstrate their interest in joining the national or grassroots financial literacy efforts. Volunteers' registration information will be shared only with selected AICPA staff and state society chief executives. CPAs who sign up at the site will be invited to participate in conference calls, will receive an electronic newsletter about financial literacy and will be contacted if volunteering opportunities matching their geographic location, experience and areas of interest become available.

* A consumer Web site (www.360financialliteracy.org) offers the public a convenient and easy-to-understand source of information on financial issues arising in each stage of life. The site contains more than 300 articles, 260 tools and 500 frequently asked questions designed to help consumers make informed financial decisions. CPAs can use the site to complement their volunteer activities.
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Title Annotation:Certified public accountants
Author:Tie, Robert
Publication:Journal of Accountancy
Date:Dec 1, 2004
Words:678
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