AICPA, SHRM recognize successful financial literacy programs

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The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) are creating a national award that recognizes employers for financial education programs for staff.

The AICPA announced the creation of the Workplace Financial Education Award at the spring meeting of its governing council last month. Jordan Amin, CPA, chair of the AICPA National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, and Carl George, CPA, immediate past chair, made the announcement during their presentation on the Institute’s financial literacy programs.

“In a time of economic stress, a comprehensive financial education program is an employee benefit,” Amin said. “The AICPA and SHRM want to honor those employers who have implemented interesting and creative programs. We hope this effort will encourage more employers to offer their staff financial education.”

The AICPA and SHRM will begin accepting applications for the award later in 2010. All employers – corporate, not-for-profit, government, and academic – will be eligible for a Workplace Financial Education Award.

Research shows that a substantial percentage of financially distressed employees spend time at their jobs worrying about personal finance issues instead of working. The National Federation of Independent Business found in a 2008 survey that just over 10 percent of small and medium-size businesses offer workplace financial education.

The partnership between the AICPA and SHRM, which represents 250,000 human resources professionals in 140 countries, stems from a recommendation by the Subcommittee on Workplace Financial Education of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy. The subcommittee, led by Janet Parker, immediate past chair of SHRM, suggested creating an award for employers who successfully provide financial education to their employees.

To help address the need for greater financial literacy, the AICPA, with the support of state CPA societies, launched the 360 Degrees of Financial Literacyeffort in 2004. Based on the premise that financial education is a lifelong endeavor, the program provides guidance in making informed financial decisions critical at various stages of life. It combines grassroots state-driven financial literacy activities, free resources for the public on the dedicated Web site, and tools that CPAs can use locally to educate Americans of all ages on financial topics.

In 2006, the AICPA and the Ad Council introduced a companion campaign, Feed the Pig, to help 25-to-34-year-olds prepare for long-term financial security. Feed the Pig has ranked consistently as one of the Ad Council’s top 10 public service campaigns.

Both programs are guided by the National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, an 11-member body of volunteer CPAs.

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