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#FridayFollow – Investigating a Deep Connection for Economic Justice

December 14, 2018

Interview with Lucia Reed, AFC®, AFCPE® Member, 2018 AFCPE Award Winner

At the 2018 AFCPE Symposium, Lucia Reed, AFC® and her colleague George Reuter received the Outstanding Symposium Practitioners’ Forum Award for “Delivering Financial Counseling to Families with low Incomes through the Federal Government’s Largest Wealth-Building Program for Families with Low Income”. Lucia is a financial coach for Compass Working Capital in Boston, MA. When she’s not training new coaches or managing their financial coaching and savings pilot, she is supporting families with low incomes to achieve their financial goals.

 

AFCPE: What inspired you to do this work?
Lucia: A combination of being drawn to economic justice and a newfound obsession with personal finance. I got to know people experiencing homelessness at a shelter and learned how often structural issues explained why they were there. Years later, I was asked in a different context about my investment portfolio and I had no idea what that was. This led me down the rabbit hole of learning about personal finance and I found Compass, which beautifully combined my two interests.

AFCPE: At #AFCPE18, you and your colleague George Reuter received the Outstanding Symposium Practitioners’ Forum Award for "Delivering Financial Counseling to Families with Low Incomes through the Federal Government’s Largest Wealth-Building Program for Families with Low Incomes" Tell us more about this work.

Lucia: For the past eight years, the organization I work for has focused on expanding the scope and impact of something called the Family Self-Sufficiency (or FSS) program. FSS is a federal program administered by HUD. It enables families who participate to build savings as they increase their income. The mechanics are a little complex, but the fundamental idea is really powerful. Our focus has been on combining this savings opportunity with financial coaching and counseling, in order to support participants to really leverage their housing assistance as a platform for economic mobility. You can learn a lot more about the program on our website - www.compassworkingcapital.org.

AFCPE: Incredible work! What did it mean to you and your colleague to receive this award?

Lucia: We were excited to be able to share what we’ve learned about running our model for the FSS program with folks in the AFCPE community who may not be aware of it. A lot of our coaching staff have the AFC certification, so it meant a lot to be involved with AFCPE in this way.


AFCPE: At Compass Working Capital, you are leading a pilot program, “Rent-to-Save”. What advice do you have for fellow professionals or organizations looking to start something similar in their communities?

Lucia: Rent-to-Save has been a really fascinating experience, and it's been great to see how much interest it has drawn in the housing and asset-building worlds. We're coming to the end of the three-year pilot this spring, and will have lots to share with others about what we've learned. My biggest piece of advice to people who want to start programs like this is to focus first on building trust with the people you're looking to serve. Also, I can say from experience that it takes a lot of patience and creativity to figure out how to market a program like this and get people interested - be patient, focus on the client, and try to learn as much as you can as you go!

AFCPE: What’s next for you? What has you most excited?

Lucia: I'm looking forward to starting the certified financial therapist program through the FTA to add a different perspective to my work with clients.


Lucia Answers the Friday 5

  1. My Why: people deserve access to high quality financial services
  2. My Favorite Quote: “The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.” -George Eliot
  3. My Hero: Phuong Luong - she got me hooked on financial coaching and got me fired up about the racial wealth gap.
  4. My Favorite Personal Finance Resource: “Surviving Debt” from the National Consumer Law Center
  5. My Best Advice:
    1. For someone starting the journey to financial well-being: Don’t do it alone. Finances can be confusing and difficult to work through and there might be opportunities out there that haven’t been introduced to you. Find a trusted professional who can guide you along the way.
    2. For a new professional entering the field: One, keep learning every day. There’s so much to know and our clients deserve to work with someone who is knowledgeable. Two, you’re never going to know everything so tap into a learning community that exposes you to new ideas.

Follow Lucia on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/lucia-reed-32532750

 


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