Reflections on 4,600 Days:

Ted Beck, president and CEO, retires from NEFE June 30

Ted BeckWhen Beck arrived in October 2005, the youngest Millennials were 8 years old and high school students had never experienced a recession. The United States savings rate was 2.6 percent and personal finance was not yet common dinner conversation. The economy was on a roll — and so were American family finances. “Personal finance changed suddenly from ‘nice-to-have’ to ‘need-to-have’ when the Great Recession hit,” Beck says. “Many of us came to NEFE at a unique time in our nation’s history. The recession triggered urgent concerns about the financial literacy of people in the country.”

NEFE was distinctively positioned to provide high-quality financial education programs and academic research at this critical time. NEFE’s role as a nonpartisan nonprofit foundation led to participation in national initiatives, including three appointments to President’s Councils for Financial Capability — under both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama — and the FDIC’s Advisory Committee on Financial Inclusion.

Shortly after arriving at NEFE, Beck said, “The market is evolving rapidly. We need to make sure we stay current with it and are focused on how we reach out to people.”

Under his leadership, NEFE has built better programming for high school students, developed a major new resource for colleges, helped establish a national teacher training initiative, and built a highly regarded research program to uncover and better understand personal finance trends, behaviors, challenges and possible solutions.

Beck’s long-term vision has been to position NEFE as a thought leader. “Whenever there’s an influential discussion taking place on what we as a country must do to help people achieve financial literacy, we want to make sure NEFE’s at that table as a significant contributor,” he says.

In addition to overseeing NEFE’s contributions in education, academia and public policy, Beck is a regular columnist for The Wall Street Journal’s Experts section and, under his leadership, NEFE’s media profile has expanded to more than 200 mentions monthly in regional and national media.

As he exits, Beck believes NEFE is strongly positioned to continue to provide leadership in financial capability. “Many of the underlying issues have not gone away since 2005,” he says. “In fact, they have become global challenges.”

Beck’s professional life has had three stages: banker, university associate dean and NEFE president. As he transitions to the next phase, he says, “I’ll be interested to see what my fourth career will be.”

One thing is certain: Beck’s legacy will be felt for years to come, as NEFE continues to work toward its mission of financial well-being for all Americans.

“NEFE ‘punches above its weight,’ producing noteworthy outputs with a very lean structure,” Beck says. “The strength of the staff allows us to make a difference. It has been a privilege to work with them.”

Beck on the WSJ Experts Blog

Since October 2015, Ted Beck has been among the roster of The Wall Street Journal Experts, a group of industry and academic thought leaders who contribute blog posts on issues related to consumer finance.

Beck had 17 blogs published, including a top-five blog last year (ranked #3), and the second highest visited blog on the Experts panel in 2016. The blogs can be found at


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