Shelton firm offers inventive financial schooling

Talking money management can feel daunting for some, but one Shelton-based financial agency is hoping its new program will change that perception.

Barnum Financial Group this week celebrated the grand opening of Establishment Barnum, a new approach to financial education and literacy focusing on young professionals with classes located adjacent to the Spotted Horse Restaurant in RD Scinto’s CX Plaza.

"The Establishment is a learning facility for young professionals to come and learn about financial planning in a welcoming environment,” said Elizabeth Hiza, Barnum Financial Group vice president of marketing and communications.

Hiza said that whenever anyone talks about money, it is natural for people to be a bit stressed. No one likes to be told what to do with their money, said Hiza, and everyone thinks they know what to do with their money, but they do not apply that learning.

“Our objective is to break these barriers with young people,” added Hiza.

To accomplish this, Hiza said class topics will include buying your first home, creating a budget, females and finance, the young professionals’ guide to financial planning, and wine and investing, among others. Discussions will be led by trained and licensed professionals. The classes are educational only and free of charge with no sales presentations. Sessions will also be held on-site at company locations.

“Our trained advisers have helped to educate thousands of people in the workplace through the corporate education program,” said Paul Blanco, CEO and founder of Barnum, a provider of financial education in the workplace at hundreds of companies and nonprofits in New England, New Jersey and New York.

“We will serve people from any field or occupation, including millennials just launching a career, or those further along in life,” said Blanco.

Blanco said Establishment Barnum will offer people from different backgrounds, occupations, and life stages the opportunity to learn about and discuss financial topics with professionals and other attendees in a friendly group setting.

“Financial planning does not have to be a chore,” said Blanco.

Hiza said the topics include financial planning with wine tasting and understanding craft beers taught in the bar-style atmosphere — a way to make the topics of money management “fun, so people do not come in with their guard up.

“The reason we looked at people ages 25 to 40 is because there are no resources for them,” said Hiza. “We felt compelled to bring the model to this age group or else history will repeat itself. Everyone is aware they need financial literacy.

“If we can just help one person to make a smart decision,” added Hiza, “it is going to affect our community, it’s going to affect our economy, it’s going to affect our country. When you have that type of passion, the risk of starting this type of operation seems really small.”

“We will foster a welcoming, informative learning atmosphere and tackle what is really on people’s minds,” said Blanco, with Establishment classes small in size, like 20 people, all sitting around a kitchen table talking about finance.

Millennials, for example, are often interested in more than just the basics, said Blanco. A recent survey found that nearly half of working millennials have $15,000 or more in savings, and 16 percent have $100,000 or more. Some topics for this group as well as Gen Z are the stock market and managing an investment portfolio, according to another survey.

“At the same time, there are pre-retirees who may want assurance that they are on the right track and retirees who can use guidance on spending decisions,” added Blanco.

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