By: Laura Walton AFC®
Bob and Lisa Swift started the TCI Foundation motivated by two ideas: young adults have a critical and vanishing resource – time – but might not make the best use of it without access to unbiased financial advice and education. I first met Bob in 2012 and we talked about my work as a financial counselor meeting one-on-one with individuals to help them build basic financial plans. Our goals overlapped and in 2014 he invited me to be the first Executive Director of the TCI Foundation.
As we met with community leaders and other interested parties, interest in the Foundation grew. Bob was interviewed for an article that ran in a Sunday edition of the Arizona Daily Star. The following Monday my inbox was crowded with over 180 emails, a testament to the public’s level of interest and need. We quickly started offering classes and refining our program as we went.
Over Bob’s 30+ years of advising, he’d met time and again with 40, 50, 60+ year olds just starting to think about retirement, having to play catch up and hoping to be able to do so. We knew that our program could have the biggest impact on young adults; they have that important resource, time, that is so critical to building financial security and they’re hungry for information. They’re just starting their careers, muddling through the paperwork of their employer’s retirement plan and benefits package and balancing a budget to pay off student debt while building an emergency savings account. They have lots of questions but, if they started early and avoided the big mistakes, we were confident they could build a secure financial future. That left the question of how best to meet their needs?
Financial education is abundant – websites, books, even classes. What we learned was that 99% of information was forgotten quickly and that, in fact, what individuals needed was “just in time” advice. We designed the 3rd Decade™ Program to deliver a 30,000 foot view on a wide range of important financial topics, enough information to trigger a red flag when the individual came upon an issue that required further research and advice before acting.
But the 3rd Decade Program isn’t just classes. We support our
10 hours of classroom time with two years of one-on-one financial planning with an unbiased advisor. This is where real learning takes place and confidence is built.
Our first class of 20 young adults told friends, family and co-workers about the program. To date we’ve served over 700 participants and, most important, the results are in. The metrics we track include their increase in assets, decrease in debt and change in net worth and the results have been more than gratifying both to us and the participants. There’s no better motivation than success.
Our next chapter is to separate the 3rd Decade from the parent TCI Foundation. With Scott Bennett as Executive Director, we’re now a standalone 501(c)(3) public charity. This will allow the 3rd Decade to have an independent and national Board of Directors, to expand our funding beyond private sources and to work with other financial advisory firms across the country. At the same time, TCI Wealth Advisors will continue to partner with the 3rd Decade Program to serve young adults in their markets: Tucson, Tempe, Flagstaff, Denver and Reno.
It’s been said that “luck is the coincidence of preparation and opportunity”. We know we’ve been lucky to create a program, the 3rd Decade Program, that improves financial outcomes for young adults and, by extension, that of their communities. Thank you for being a part of our continuing journey.