News Archive

Muma College of Business in the Fall to Offer a New Major: Personal Financial Planning

By Keith Morelli

TAMPA (Mar. 3, 2017) -- With the number of qualified financial advisors dwindling – and with the government poised to possibly impose tighter restrictions on the profession – the University of South Florida's Muma College of Business is moving forward with a plan to offer a new major in personal financial planning.

Starting in the fall, the new major will be available to business students interested in filling the anticipated marketplace void caused by a large number of the current financial advisors and planners marching into retirement themselves.

The reasons for a course of study in a complicated and ever changing field are simple:

  • The need for financial planners is expected to grow by 30 percent over the next several years, outpacing most other occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • The occupation of financial advisor ranks No. 4 in job satisfaction, says a survey by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Entry level salaries for financial planners average nearly $58,000 a year and a mid-career salary in Florida is nearly $120,000. The median personal financial advisor's income is triple the median income reported for all other business-related occupations, Bureau of Labor Statistics say.

Laura Mattia, director of the newly formed financial planning program, is building the curriculum from the ground up and stirring interest among academics at the Muma College of Business and beyond.

"This is an opportunity for students studying investments, wealth management and finance to move toward a career that can be both fulfilling and lucrative," said Mattia, a Certified Financial Planner who earned a doctoral degree at Texas Tech University. "The numbers bear this out. In the coming years, as baby boomers enter retirement, the demand for certified financial planners acting as fiduciaries will rise precipitously.

"At the same time, a large bubble of current advisors themselves are getting ready to retire," she said. "Our graduates will be ready to jump into that void, equipped with the tools they need to mount successful careers while making differences in the lives of their clients."

Mattia said 50 percent of those currently serving in the profession are in their 50s and planning for retirement themselves. Only 4 percent are under 30.

"The financial planning community has not invested in the future of the profession," she said, "and it is inadequately staffed to deal with the exodus of seasoned planners as they retire."

The U.S. Department of Labor has been in the process of implementing a fiduciary rule that is designed to assign fiduciary responsibility to all advisors when they consult on certain retirement money issues.

The new administration in Washington has directed the labor department to delay the implementation of the rule to make sure it wouldn't limit the access people have to financial planners. Even though the fiduciary rule remains up in the air for now, the need for qualified professionals to advise people, including the glut of baby boomer retirees, on their financial matters still exists, Mattia said.

"When consumers hear fiduciary, they expect optimal solutions that represent the best possible advice available," she said. "When dealing with matters of life and death, the assurance of working with a fiduciary provides peace of mind since, presumably, all solutions within human capacity will be evaluated for their merit before recommendations are provided.

"Words like trust, reliability and fiduciary," she said, "communicate safety and security."

Graduates of the new program will be well versed in financial planning and will enter the workforce as fiduciaries. Students will be required to attend national association meetings, participate in the Financial Planners Association (FPA) Challenge, be members of an FPA student chapter, attend financial planning and wealth management boot camps and seminars and participate in internship programs.

Additionally, they will learn the intricacies of communication and coaching along with ethics and financial technology. In the end, graduates with this new degree should move seamlessly into the job market.

"We have listened to and heard our friends and partners in the financial planning industry and have come up with a forward-thinking, creative solution that will fill that impending workplace void," said Muma College of Business Dean Moez Limayem. "In this solution, everybody wins; our students, the university and all those future clients out there who will put their trust in our graduates to manage their assets.

"Our mantra here at the Muma College of Business always has been to place our students first," he said. "By offering a new major in personal financial planning, we are preparing a new breed of professional to populate that industry. They will have a strong business foundation with an emphasis on ethics, sales, technical skills and, of course, financial planning.

"Upon graduation, they will go into careers that will be among the top paying in the nation," he said, "at a time when demand for such professionals will be high and competition for jobs will be minimal."

The new program has received the required approval from all levels of the university and Mattia said the business college will begin offering the program to students in the fall 2017 semester with the hopes that it will help replenish the profession..

"Students majoring in financial planning are highly committed to the profession and are passionate about the impact they can make on society and in people's lives," she said. "University programs are the future of the profession for satisfying the demand for financial planners in both quantity and quality."