Prac­tice What They Teach

Plan­ners can bring real-world ex­pe­ri­ence to class­rooms.

Financial Planning - - EDITOR’S VIEW - —Chelsea Emery


The five 15- to 18-year-old stu­dents who filed into a meet­ing room at Fran­cis Fi­nan­cial in New York did not at­tend the evening panel on fi­nan­cial plan­ning be­cause they were ex­cited to learn about bud­get­ing, sav­ing and credit cards. But at the end of the 70-minute pre­sen­ta­tion, “Fi­nan­cial Plan­ning 101,” the teens ad­mit­ted it hadn’t been so bad.

“I didn’t un­der­stand credit cards,” an 18-year-old named An­drew told me after Avani Ram­nani, the firm’s di­rec­tor of wealth man­age­ment, wrapped up. “Now it makes sense.”

For Fran­cis Fi­nan­cial, a $200 mil­lion AUM firm with of­fices just a block from the New York Stock Ex­change, the cost was min­i­mal: a sushi tray, some fresh fruit and a pitcher of le­mon­ade. But if com­pound in­ter­est is any guide, the kids should see life­long re­turns from learn­ing how credit card debt can soar to thou­sands of dol­lars from a $100 pur­chase. Maybe they’ll be­come clients. If not, that’s OK, too. “I re­ally want th­ese girls to learn how to talk about money,” Ram­nani tells me, adding that she ad­dressed many of her tips specif­i­cally to the young women in the room. “I want them to feel com­fort­able.”

As a plan­ner, Ram­nani’s daily ex­pe­ri­ence with clients means she brings real-world per­spec­tive to her pan­els. It’s some­thing she shares with another ad­vi­sor, Le­var Haf­foney. A prin­ci­pal at Fay­ohne Ad­vi­sors in New York, Haf­foney teaches classes on fi­nan­cial plan­ning to adults at an area col­lege. “It is al­ways satisfying to hear about [stu­dents’] suc­cesses since tak­ing my class,” writes Haf­foney in this month’s Selfie col­umn, “Mak­ing the Fi­nan­cial Grade,” on page 72.

Ram­nani and Haf­foney’s ground­ing in the day-to-day prac­tice of fi­nan­cial plan­ning is a char­ac­ter­is­tic shared by ad­vi­sors pro­filed in our cover fea­ture, “Course Cor­rec­tion,” on page 36. Th­ese in­struc­tors fo­cus their classes on the spe­cific needs of clients, rather than ab­stract aca­demic prin­ci­pals. They are also ded­i­cated to rais­ing the pro­file of pro­grams that of­fer de­grees in fi­nan­cial plan­ning.

“I was hum­bled by the sheer amount of ded­i­ca­tion th­ese pro­fes­sors put into their work,” says As­sis­tant Manag­ing Edi­tor Maddy Perkins, who wrote the story. For stu­dents con­sid­er­ing a plan­ning ca­reer, a de­gree pro­gram is a great op­tion. “While noth­ing can re­place real-world ex­pe­ri­ence,” Perkins says, “th­ese ed­u­ca­tors work to en­sure fi­nan­cial plan­ning grad­u­ates are best pre­pared for the daunt­ing chal­lenges of the real world.

“Plus,” she tells me, “it might help stu­dents land a job after they grad­u­ate.” Take note, Fran­cis Fi­nan­cial (and count­less other firms like it): Some of your pre­sen­ta­tion at­ten­dees may one day be grad­u­at­ing from the plan­ning schools listed on pages 40-54.

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