Rally Your Community for Financial Literacy
By: Nicole Coulter
UBS financial advisor Jason E. Hughes is stepping up to support financial literacy, hosting a fundraising dinner next April 9th in Sarasota, Fla. with influential clients, competing advisors, and even a television personality.
Kevin Negandhi, the first Indian-American announcer on ESPN and host of the 9 a.m. Sports Center will headline the dinner. Hughes and Negandhi became friends when the sportscaster worked for a local TV station and Hughes believes he is an example of living the American Dream.
The Certified Financial Planner ™ hopes the fun and informative gathering will become an annual tradition each April during Financial Literacy month, and spark a national conversation about the need for better financial education among all segments of the population and especially younger Americans.
Hughes is one of many financial professionals calling for every high school in America to adopt better financial education curriculum. For more information, or to become a Goodwill Ambassador for Financial Literacy and host a dinner in your area, please visit Stand Up 4 Financial Literacy.
For Hughes, the cause is personal.
“I’ve always been focused on education,” Hughes explains. “I’m married to a former teacher. My wife is a third generation special education teacher.”
Hughes believes in giving back, and also knows firsthand the pitfalls of poor financial choices.
He was a college math major, but still, like so many young people, got his first credit card and quickly “ran up $18,000 in debt.”
Hughes says too many Americans are caught in cycles of poverty and dependency because of their lack of financial knowledge. If not for his financial training, he believes he, too, wouldn’t have had the understanding to work himself out of debt. He believes with more education, Americans can break negative cycles. ”I truly want people to be accountable to themselves, to be able to live life to its fullest, and to realize their hopes and dreams,” he says.
Hughes cited recent research showing that the poor in America tend to stay poor. One study found that a stunning 42% of American men raised in the bottom 20% of incomes stay there as adults, a worse showing than many other countries.
“Surprisingly, we’re one of the highest in the world (in intergenerational poverty),” Hughes says. “We always hear about the American dream but it no longer exists for the bottom (earners) in our country.”
Hughes wonders what the country would look like if the rate of intergenerational poverty could be cut in half. “We have to educate people to take care of themselves,” he says.
Hughes is reaching out to other financial professionals to help move the ball forward on financial literacy, to raise awareness and funds for the ongoing costs for a nationwide financial literacy movement. In fact, Hughes is working with his friend, Brian Mariash at Merrill Lynch, also in Sarasota. They and other Goodwill Ambassadors for Financial Literacy, are building networks of individuals in their communities who can deliver clout and financial support to the cause.
“It’s rare that you would see people in our industry from competing firms that would come together to do something with clients, and feel comfortable getting everyone in the same room,” Hughes explains. “We’re working together here in Sarasota because there’s a huge need. We’re willing to put aside firm differences, political differences, and find agreement that financial literacy is so important. We can work together to do something really good.”
Join the cause now by visiting StandUp4FinancialLiteracy and registering and follow the campaign on Twitter @4FinLiteracy.
Together we can make a difference!