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Rising Stock: Personal Financial Planning Department Thriving

The department has been recognized as the most extensive academic program for financial planners in the nation.

Written by Karin Slyker

The PFP program features 12 full-time faculty members, five graduate adjunct faculty members, approximately 125 undergraduate students, 120 master's students and 35 doctoral students.

The PFP program features 12 full-time faculty members, five graduate adjunct faculty members, approximately 125 undergraduate students, 120 master’s students and 35 doctoral students.

J. Brent Beene was nearly finished with his MBA in Finance at Texas Tech University when he first learned of the Personal Financial Planning (PFP) program in the College of Human Sciences.

“I heard it from a fellow finance major I hadn’t seen in a while,” Beene said. “Even more appealing was the work he told me that he’d be doing after graduation.”

Beene, now a wealth manager with RegentAtlantic Capital LLC in New Jersey, graduated with a master’s degree in PFP from Texas Tech in 2002. He credits the program for the career opportunities afforded him upon graduation.

Established more than 25 years ago under the leadership of associate professor Bill Gustafson, PFP evolved from what was formerly known as a family finance major. Today, it prepares students to be financial planning professionals through the study of cash and credit management, retirement planning, risk management, tax and estate planning, asset management and professional practices.

In its Feb. 2012 issue, SmartMoney magazine recognized Texas Tech in a six-page spread, as the most extensive academic program for financial planners in the nation.

Personal Financial Planning as a Department

With the start of the fall semester comes a major milestone for the relatively young program, as PFP makes the leap from division to department.

SmartMoney magazine highlighted Texas Tech's PFP program with a six-page spread in its February issue.

SmartMoney magazine highlighted Texas Tech’s PFP program with a six-page spread in its February issue.

“Elevation to the Department of Personal Financial Planning provides the visibility and focus needed to enhance quality growth and research productivity,” said Professor Vickie Hampton, department chair.

This point is particularly relevant considering the broad spectrum of research and specialties currently engaged in this department: from charitable giving and reverse mortgages, to retirement strategies and concerns about when a person loses their ability to make sound financial decisions.

For some however, the ability to make those sound decisions begins with financial literacy.

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Students Guide Peers through Financial Uncertainty

“Many families don’t talk openly about money. Then you come to school and you have to make big life decisions that may stay with you,” said professor Dorothy Durband.

As director of Red to Black, Durband supervises a team of select juniors and seniors who provide one-on-one consultations and financial guidance in a safe and comfortable environment. The group also provides seminars based on their target audience, such as budgeting basics for freshman and information about repaying a student loan for graduating seniors.

“Personal Financial Planning is not just for people with assets,” Durband said. “We want to prepare students, while they are in school, to manage their finances and give them the tools to make those tough decisions.”

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The Brain’s Role in Tough Financial Decision Making

Would you like to donate a dollar to charity? How about a portion of your income or estate? Associate professor Russell James is trying to better understand the responses to questions like these. His current research is focused on charitable bequests and estate planning, and personal happiness with regard to financial well-being.

As the first holder of The CH Foundation Endowed Chair for Personal Financial Planning, James’ research utilizes the Texas Tech Neuroimaging Institute, where he studies which parts of the brain are activated given a particular line of questioning.

“There are parts of the brain that are more involved with decision making, while others are more tied to emotion,” James said. “If we can understand the barriers, we can better address them.”

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Knowledge that is Practical, Personal and Valuable

The program at Texas Tech is now regarded as one of the top standout financial planning schools by Financial Planning magazine.

The mission of the PFP program is to educate students to the highest standards of excellence; foster intellectual, ethical and personal development; and generate the highest quality of meaningful research.

The mission of the PFP program is to educate students to the highest standards of excellence; foster intellectual, ethical and personal development; and generate the highest quality of meaningful research.

“We have students from all over the world coming here to learn from our program,” Gustafson said. “And they are in high demand when they graduate.”

PFP is an obvious fit with majors like accounting and finance, because of the overlapping coursework. However, Gustafson points out their relationship with the Texas Tech University School of Law and also the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.

Among the many benefits of a career in PFP, flexibility ranks high on the list. Students may consider a minor to satisfy both their practical and personal ambitions, whereas, a doctorate in this emerging field might place a student in the position to influence how the field is taught and researched for time to come.

“If you really enjoy people and have a love of numbers, you couldn’t ask for a much better career,” Beene said. “It’s one of those courses applicable to anyone – your own situation or anybody else’s.”

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Department of Personal Financial Planning
Division of Personal Financial Planning

The Department of Personal Financial Planning in the College of Human Sciences educates students on the need to focus financial knowledge on families and the achievement of their goals.

Undergraduate and graduate degree programs in personal financial planning are registered by the CFP Board. Students graduating from a CFP Board-Registered Program are eligible to sit for the CFP® Certification Examination.

College of Human Sciences
The College of Human Sciences

The College of Human Sciences at Texas Tech University provides multidisciplinary education, research and service focused on individuals, families and their environments for the purpose of improving and enhancing the human condition.

The college offers a Bachelor of Science degree with disciplines in:

  • Apparel Design and Manufacturing
  • Community, Family, and Addiction Services
  • Early Childhood
  • Family and Consumer Sciences
  • Human Development and Family Studies
  • Interior Design
  • Nutritional Sciences
  • Personal Financial Planning
  • Restaurant, Hotel, and Institutional Management
  • Retailing

The college also offers graduate programs leading to the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees.

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