California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    Financial Planning Now An Option At Cal Lu

    California Lutheran University has a new Masters of Science (M.S.) degree in financial planning as of August 2017. The program works alongside the Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) in financial planning said Harry Starn, director of the financial planning program.

    “Individuals are looking to those people with high competency, high ethics and the ability to really communicate and connect with them,” Starn said. “That’s why we went to the M.S., it’s a different segment of the market that we could serve.”

    The M.S. in financial planning has two tracks. Track one is designed to provide someone new to the industry with the eligibility to take the Certified Financial Planning (CFP) board exam. The CFP title is a nationally recognized certification that takes a combination of education, ethics, experience and passing the examination according to the CFP board website.

    “Track one there’s 12 courses in the M.S. required to get an M.S. and they would sit for those courses required for the exam. But then there’s also a couple electives and there’s a couple required courses,” Starn said.

    The second track of the M.S. degree is geared towards those who have already completed their CFP certification but want to further their financial planning education.

    “So what we did here was replace five of the core foundational financial planning courses which you needed to sit for the exam with advanced coursework,” Starn said.

    The degree can be completed online, on campus or a mixture of both. The online classes have weekly live chats, discussion boards and group projects that work to help students build relationships in the virtual classroom.

    “The online is just different than any online class I’ve ever taken. It’s actually like a real class. You’re talking to your classmates. You’re commenting on things you think are interesting. You’re forced to engage and I think that’s great with building relationships,” said Logan Sanders, a student in the first track of the M.S. program.

    Sanders graduated from Cal Lutheran with a business degree in 2017. He is enrolled in the online program while working full time as an associate financial planner at Lamia Financial Group in Thousand Oaks.

    Starn said that many schools outsource their course content but that all the classes in the program are designed at Cal Lutheran. There are two interdisciplinary courses that Starn designed for the second track, psychological and cultural dynamics of client communication and social psychology of leading clients. The interdisciplinary courses serve to strengthen the interpersonal nature of financial planning, Starn said.

    “Clients don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. So your communication skills, your ability to listen to get them to talk, tell their stories, to understand them is so important and the industry is really moving towards that,” Starn said.

    Veronica Campanella, an online student of the MBA in Financial Planning took the  Psychological and Cultural Dynamics of Client Communication course. She said it raised her awareness of the art and science of financial planning.

    “I think intuitively we all can feel emotions and we can recognize each other and our moods and ways to approach each other, but to break it down into a science and then to reflect on it is really eye opening,” Campanella said.

    After 34 years of experience in the financial planning industry, Leonard R. Dean a CFP® from Sacramento, California said he recommends that students who want to work in financial planning take classes in the areas of communication and psychology.

    “To be a CFP professional you’ve got to be a people person as well. So you’ve got to be good with numbers but you’ve got to be a people person, because people don’t like engineer types you know, they’re too boring,” Dean said. “So you’ve got to be able to have a personality along with having the knowledge, it’s kind of a rare breed.”

    The M.S. program currently has three students, Starn said, and he is confident that the program will help set apart those who have the degree.

    Nicki Schedler