Englewood, Colo. (Jan. 27, 2004) -- Six of the country’s leading financial planning groups have joined forces to sponsor a multi-organizational, pro bono financial planning effort to offer free financial guidance to people who can't afford an advisor or who face an immediate or unusual financial need.

The Project for Financial Independence, which launches this month, is a collaboration between the American Institute of CPAs, the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, the Financial Planning Association, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, the National Endowment for Financial Education and the Society of Financial Service Professionals.

“By collaborating, we are able to institute a national network of financial advisors eager to introduce financial planning to individuals who may not have access to it otherwise,” said Nan Mead, director of communications at the NEFE and chair of the Project for Financial Independence task force.

Consumers who fall into one of four categories may be eligible to receive pro bono assistance under the Project for Financial Independence: low-income individuals (as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau at http://www.census.gov/hhes/poverty/threshld/thresh01.html ); enlisted military personnel; people who face an immediate financial crisis (i.e., a natural disaster, long-term illness, the death of a family member, job loss, etc.); or people who are struggling with significant indebtedness or recovering from bankruptcy.

Initially, the Project for Financial Independence will work with Habitat for Humanity, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Volunteers of America to identify people who need assistance and to help link them to a local volunteer financial advisor who belongs to one of the four membership organizations participating in the project -- the AICPA, FPA, NAPFA and SFSP. More charitable organizations will be invited to participate as the project grows.

Initially, the Project for Financial Independence will provide services only through nonprofit organizations. However, its sponsors eventually plan to work directly with individuals, linking them to volunteer financial advisors via a dedicated Web site, www.consultaplanner.org . The site is currently available as a resource for charitable organizations and for financial advisors who have volunteered their services for the project.

Charitable organizations interested in participating in the effort should contact the NEFE at (303) 741-6333. Advisors who want to offer pro bono services through the project must be members in good standing of the AICPA, FPA, NAPFA or SFSP, abide by the codes of ethics and policies of their membership organizations, and sign an agreement that they will volunteer their time and services at no cost to the client. Interested advisors should contact the appropriate membership organization.

-- WebCPA staff

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