Teaching Personal Financial Planning at Business Schools

Article excerpt

Personal financial management services are a growing bus ness niche for many companies. Can financial planners expect recent graduates to have taken a course in personal financial planning? What can they expect such a course to cover?

A study of university business programs accredited by the American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) analyzed the relative emphasis on various topics covered in typical personal financial planning courses. Instructors at AACSB schools were surveyed about courses titled either "personal finance" or "personal financial planning." Only 45.3% of responding schools offer such a course, and only 28.4% of those require the course for a degree. Less than 5% require it for an accounting degree. Financial planners that have a strong relationship with the schools whose graduates they hire should consider encouraging those accounting programs to offer-and perhaps require-a personal financial management course.

Topical Coverage

To find out what topics are covered and their relative importance, the survey asked instructors to indicate the amount of time they spend on 37 different topics. No significant differences in topic coverage or textbooks used were found between personal finance and personal financial planning courses. Two topics-taxes that affect personal finances, and retirement planning (e.g., IRAs, pensions)-are taught at all responding institutions. Topics taught at most responding schools include investment planning strategies, financial planning process, cash flow and budgeting, personal savings and inflation, and risk management concepts. More than half of the schools cover all 37 topics except for commodity trading/futures markets.

The most heavily eovered topics, based on the extent of class time, are investment planning strategies and taxes that affect personal finances, each averaging more than 90 minutes of class time. Other heavily covered topics include credit and borrowing, introduction to stocks, and mutual funds. The topics covered by the fewest instructors and assigned the least amount of class time, on average, are commodity trading/futures markets, business law, and professional liability insurance. Exhibit 1 shows all 37 topics and the amount of coverage they received.

Course and Student Characteristics

Exhibit 2 presents the pedagogical methods employed by the respondents. Lecture is unquestionably the preferred method, used by 89% of respondents and comprising about 52% of class time. Exams and discussion of outside readings each averaged about 13% of class time. Employers have long asked instructors to provide students with group or teamwork experiences in their courses, yet only about one-third of respondents appear to be using those activities on a frequent basis. …