In her job at Fidelity Investments, Jennifer Vacca works to ensure that employees are engaged in their work – productive, happy and connected to their fellow associates, the company and the community at large.
So when she heard about the opportunity to serve as a Financial Coaching Corps (FCC) volunteer through a partnership between Capital Good Fund (CGF) and the office of General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, she jumped at the chance.
Not only did she see this as a unique opportunity to engage in community service, but it is also aligned with her day-to-day work at Fidelity.
“I found the concept of the FCC compelling, because I think an initiative that provides financial advice to those that would ordinarily be unable to afford it can really make a difference,” she said.
That said, even though Vacca works in the financial services industry, she was worried that she didn’t have the requisite skills to counsel others.
“Like everyone else, I have my own struggles financially, and I couldn’t help wondering if I was in the right position to help others,” she said. “But once I went through CGF’s training, I realized that the FCC is not about conveying financial knowledge so much as it is about working with people to apply that knowledge in their lives.”
Armed with this understanding of the program – the curriculum, the goals and the target population to be served – Vacca threw herself into the coaching sessions. She was especially excited to work with students from Year Up, a local nonprofit that “provides low-income adults … with a combination of hands-on skill development, college credits and corporate internships.” As Vacca puts it, “The sessions have gone great. The Year Up students have asked poignant questions and I could tell that they were genuinely interested in learning the content and creating concrete action steps based upon that learning.”
The impact of the FCC has gone beyond the personal satisfaction of serving the community. Vacca recognizes that “we [at Fidelity] are very fortunate and, as a result, it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Participating in the [FCC] has truly solidified my desire to give back to the community in a meaningful way.”
What’s more, Vacca is thankful to be able to work at a place that “supports you in your desire to give back. It says a lot about what Fidelity believes in and that community engagement is more than just a buzz word at the company.”
Vacca’s parents taught her about finances, the primary lesson being “no matter how much you earn, if your expenses exceed your income, you will look back and realize that you have nothing to show for your hard work.” That insight into her own financial life has made her a better coach.
Summing it all up, Vacca said, “Even just arming people with information about how credit and debt function and sitting down with them to build a budget can empower them to make decisions that will better their lives. And at the end of the day, that’s what the FCC is all about.”