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Raymond James' Donation Names the Personal Financial Planning Program's Directorship

By Keith Morelli

Personal Financial Planning Day

TAMPA (January 9, 2018) -- The University of South Florida's Muma College of Business will use a contribution from Raymond James to support the college's new personal financial planning degree program, which began offering courses this fall.

The investment and planning giant recently made a $200,000 donation to the program under the directorship of Laura Mattia. In recognition of the gift, the college has named Mattia's position the "Raymond James Financial Director."

"We are so grateful to the personal financial planning program's supporters and particularly the generosity and commitment of Raymond James" Mattia said. "With this alliance the program is uniquely positioned to meet the increasing consumer and community demand for financial services.

"This mission is consistent with USF's strategic goal of student success," she said, "by producing well-educated graduates who will help improve the quality of community enrichment and increase employment opportunities in Florida, the United States and the global economy."

A formal announcement of the gift is planned for 3 p.m. on Jan. 18 at an event in the Muma College of Business atrium. Industry leaders will be on hand to talk to students about careers and a panel discussion also is planned.

The program offers a chance for finance majors to break into a field in which their services are in growing demand and starting salaries are relatively high. Industry observers say a large number of personal financial planning professionals are nearing retirement while not enough young professionals are starting personal financial planning careers. Graduates will be able to step into that void providing financial advice to help clients secure their financial future.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for financial planners is projected to grow by 30 percent over the next several years. Additionally, more than 50 percent of financial advisors in the country are over 50 years old, while only 4 percent are under 30 years old.

Students likely will find the fiscal prospects of a career in financial planning appealing. Entry level salaries for financial planners average nearly $58,000 a year, and the mid-career salary in Florida is nearly $120,000, says a report from the Bureau of Labor statistics. If that was not enough incentive, a survey by U.S. News and World Report ranked the occupation of financial advisor as No. 4 in job satisfaction.

"Investing in the next generation of advisors is a significant focus for our firm," said Raymond James Chief Operating Officer Dennis Zank. "Now more than ever, it's important to educate and mentor students at the university level, sharing professional best practices and helping them navigate the complexities of sophisticated advice and financial planning.

"Supporting USF's financial planning program," he said, "is another step we're taking to serve clients now and well into the future."

In October, the personal financial planning program was approved by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, which oversees more than 300 programs at more than 200 institutions and sets the standards for financial planning educational programs at the college or university level.

The program is designed to prepare students for success by providing them with academic and professional insights on financial communication, ethics and technology.

The program's students must 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.

Students will learn the intricacies of communication and coaching along with ethics and financial technology. In the end, graduates should move seamlessly into the job market, which puts the program in line with the college's mission and vision, said Dean Moez Limayem.

"We have heard, loud and clear, the concerns of our partners in the financial planning industry and, in response, have come up with a forward thinking, creative solution to fill that impending workplace void," said Limayem. "In this solution, everybody wins: our students, the university and all those future employers out there who will put their trust in our graduates to manage their clients' assets.

"By offering this new major in personal financial planning, we are responding to the needs in the industry by preparing a new breed of professional," he said. "They will have a strong business foundation with an emphasis on ethics, marketing sales, analytical skills and, of course, financial planning."