Unable to cut down on public school bureaucracy, financial literacy guru turns to digital channels and strategic partnerships
Mac Gardner’s life mission is to teach the basics of financial literacy to those traditionally excluded from access to financial planning, and he targets children in a practical and accessible way.
Certified Financial Planner, Gardner is the Founder and Director of Education of FinLit Tech. He has published two books on financial literacy. The most recent, “The Four Money Bears,” teaches children the four functions of money: spending it, saving it, investing it, and giving it away. In the book, he represents the four functions as “purses”.
Gardner hoped to get the financial literacy book into public schools, but strict regulations made that difficult, so he turned to digital channels fueled by strategic partnerships.
One of those partnerships is with financial technology giant eMoney Advisor, a financial planning software consultant who claims to foster a culture that values diversity and inclusion. Together with Gardner, the company is developing a financial wellness app called Incentive that combines financial education with actionable steps to put users in control of their financial health.
Through these and other projects Gardner leads at FinLit Tech, he targets black groups and others who would otherwise not have access to financial literacy.
Gardner spoke with The Mughal Nation on how financial literacy can uplift black people.
Moguldom: Why did you write your books?
Mac Gardner: My first book is called “Motivate Your Money”. I have worked with people who have substantial assets and good net worth for years. But it was surprising that they didn’t have a basic understanding of financial planning. People need to know the difference between types of insurance, an IRA, 401k, a regular brokerage account, the difference between a trust and a will, and why it is essential to have this stuff.
So I used the first book to share my “Mac Nuggets” – my little stories and little things that have helped customers over the years.
Then one of my clients came to me about a year after starting my practice and said, “Hey Mac, would you be willing to write something for the kids? And that’s how “The Four Money Bears” was born. The book is the story of me teaching my kids about money, letting them know that there are only four things you do with money: spend it, save it, invest it and give it away, and they’re all bears.
Moguldom: I bought the book for my niece and nephews, and they loved it. What is the next step after the children have read “The Four Silver Bears”? What can children or parents do to keep the conversation going?
Mac Gardner: Initially, we see the book “The Four Money Bears” as a kind of ramp to financial literacy for young children. The target population is children aged 5 to 11, therefore primary school. We initially sent copies of our book’s format to state school boards across the country years ago when I first published it.
The process of getting a book into a public school is extremely arduous and very difficult. We realized that teachers and elementary students use many digital platforms to learn.
We then partnered with Synapse and eMoney to run this competition to develop an app based on “The Four Money Bears”. The idea is to develop an app (based on the) book that can be used in schools, directly with consumers and financial institutions, to communicate why it is important to start managing money.
Moguldom: How do you see financial literacy as a tool to help black people move forward?
Mac Gardner: I intentionally made two cubs and two bears. I intentionally made all bears different colors and shades – a pretty obvious move towards the need for more diversity and inclusion in the financial services industry as consumers of financial services goods. But I am also a CFP (certified financial planner) by trade. I want to see more people of color, more women and more diversity in the advisory space.
My thought process is to bring more children from neglected and underrepresented neighborhoods and resources like the “The Four Silver Bears” books into their hands to understand the first thing to do when they receive a ticket. $ 100.
The first thing to do is not go buy something and use it all to do other things with it. You can put money in a bank.
Instead of buying Under Armor or these Nike, you can own shares of that company.
And with technology and the ability to own fractional shares, it can be done for as little as $ 5. Or you can donate some of the money to someone in need, to a church, or to an organization.
I think this is how “The Four Money Bears” can help kids of color in the United States or around the world introduce options early on and show them that you can do something other than just consume and eat. to buy.
Moguldom: Where do you think black adults need to jump right in to ensure a better future?
Mac Gardner: I am thinking of a better understanding of capital markets. There are two sides to the capital market. If you are an entrepreneur and have a business, these new rules and regulations such as Reg CF and Reg D allow these businesses to acquire and access the capital necessary to grow their business. On the other side of this coin, they can use their hard earned dollars to invest in businesses. It doesn’t just have to be like Exxon and Coca-Cola, all those big cap companies. It can get as granular as businesses and businesses in your community.
Moguldom: What do you think it would take for more black people to be certified as financial professionals?
Mac Gardner: In short, education. We went to school but personal finance is not taught in schools. How can people even be aware that it is even a career choice? We hope that with the book “The Four Money Bears”, more young people will realize that managing money is not only important, but that there is a real career path where we can help people with their investments, their insurance, retirement planning, taxes or estate planning. If we can do it sooner, we can start filling the pipeline.
The certified financial planning industry is in dire need of it. The average CFP, I think, is in your late 50s, early 60s. There will be a huge wave of retirees, and then unfortunately there aren’t enough young people to fill those gaps.
Moguldom: Right now we’re seeing this wave of interest among people buying fractions of stocks and cryptocurrency. Some think crypto is a wave, not a straight line where you buy a coin and become a millionaire in six months. What kind of advice would you give to someone who wants to expand their investments, make strategic decisions, and not just base their decisions on someone on Facebook or Clubhouse?
Mac Gardner: We are working on a second book and introducing new characters. The second book is titled: “The four money bears go to the bank”. There is “Baker Box Turtle” for teaching children or toddlers about banking. There is “Lender Lion” which introduces children to loans and the different forms of loans that exist. There is “Omnibus Owl” which introduces children to the different options of the capital market. The fourth character we feature is “Crypto Cat”, who introduces children to the concepts of digital currency and blockchain.
We believe it is necessary to do this because it gets nowhere. Many regulations come into force and the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) is set up. When the federal government puts so much regulation into something, it gets nowhere. And so what we need to do is educate people on what blockchain is.
There is potential volatility in this space, just as the Forex space is volatile and the capital markets. Is this something where you can potentially make a lot of money? Yes, but you could potentially lose money. That’s what it is: educating people and letting them know that.
Moguldom: So other than the four new characters you’re introducing for kids, do you have any other things that readers should know?
Mac Gardner: Yes, so we worked with eMoney Advisor. eMoney is a large financial technology company. Our partnership is working on the development of a financial wellness app called Incentive. It is a tool that helps with financial planning, understanding some rules of thumb about how much to save and how much to use for certain expenses in your life.
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It will contain resources for people to consolidate their accounts and get good basic financial planning information. We are working with eMoney to help develop this financial education and wellness platform. It is only distributed through financial advisers who work in the 401K space, but the game plan is to eventually have it distributed through financial advisors and, at some point, directly to the consumer.
Moguldom: Where do you see FinLit Tech in five years?
Mac Gardner: I see us developing cool multimedia financial education solutions from an early age, through college, high school and university. On the book side, we have “The Four Money Bears” which is the ramp for young children. Then we have “Motivate Your Money” for adults, and we are developing a multimedia platform for financial education for adults.
I’ve received a lot of feedback from financial services institutions saying, “Hey, Mac, can you create educational content from a diverse perspective for people who need this advice and not just the 1%? Who is the financial services industry for? “
It’s something we’re looking to tackle and create real financial education content for an industry that wants to tackle the 99 percent.
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