Students in the financial planning program at the University of North Texas are experiencing a “real life” financial planning case this fall thanks to the 2015 NexGen grant from TD Ameritrade. Part of UNT’s winning NextGen grant was a proposal to “make the capstone financial planning course more realistic” by replacing the typical hypothetical case with a “live” one.
Grant author, UNT alumnus and instructor Dave Ragan teaches the capstone financial planning course each fall in the CFP® board registered curriculum. In an effort to provide students hands-on experience with a live case and industry software, Ragan solicited volunteers to make their time and financial information available to the capstone students. To encourage volunteers, the program offered $2,500 to the selected volunteer to assist implementing the recommendations of the student financial planners.
After program faculty selected the volunteer clients, they met with students and made their confidential financial data available. The students then designed specific and unique financial plans for each. “It is a completely realistic experience for the financial planning students. The volunteer client needs to know what they should be doing differently in order to meet their goals. Our students will be able to answer that question for them,” said Ragan.
During the semester, students used inStream Solutions®, a cloud-based financial planning tool used by a growing number of financial planning professionals. inStream provided the software, valued at over $7,500, to the students at no charge.
At the end of the semester, the students will present the financial plans that they have prepared to the volunteer clients and university representatives. A panel of judges, including the faculty in the program and college administrators, will select the winning plan. Thanks to the TD Ameritrade grant, the winning student will be awarded $1,000.
Additionally, UNT will create a blueprint for the live case-study and help lead other universities nationwide in turning out well-educated students for the financial planning profession, which is expected to grow twice as fast as the average industry.
“Using a living case exposes the students to details and issues that cannot be replicated in a hypothetical case,” said Marcia Staff, chair of the Department of Finance, Insurance, Real Estate and Law. “We are thankful to both TD Ameritrade Institutional and inStream for making this experience possible.”
Pictured above (L-R): Tom Nally (President, Ameritrade International), Marcia Staff (FIREL Chair), Scrappy, David Ragan (UNT alum & adjunct instructor)