Bentley University Stresses Personal Financial Management for Incoming Students
As young people face daunting personal and professional financial challenges including college loans, employee benefits, budgeting, and investing for the future, Bentley University is providing incoming freshmen with tools to find effective financial solutions. This fall the university launches a new component to its First Year Seminar course, a series of “Discovery Sessions” which will include financial planning. First Year Seminar is a required 1-credit course for incoming freshmen and for the first time will feature discussions with students about managing their finances – including an introduction to financialfootprint.com, a new web-based personal finance education and guidance service aimed at connecting young people, ages 18 to 30, with their very own personal finance expert. The sessions were created jointly with financialfootprint.com and students will benefit from the knowledge and experience of company co-founder and Bentley alumnus Dave Kittredge.
financialfootprint.com features educational content, online tools and one-on-one access to experts in personal finance who educate and provide guidance across a range of topics pertinent to college students including budgeting, banking, checking/savings, credit cards, the broader financial aid process, and employee benefits.
“Students often ask us questions about how to pay off debt and how to manage money so they can study abroad. It makes sense for us to offer them information on money management,” says Gerry Stenerson, associate dean for First Year Programs at Bentley University. “They need to learn how to budget their money and the costs associated with higher education. Some will be dealing with substantial debt when they graduate and they need to think about that now so they make good financial decisions.”
According to a recent study, parents are concerned about their children’s knowledge of personal finance. The Merrill Lynch Affluent Insights Quarterly, which surveyed 1,000 Americans in June with investable assets of at least $250,000, found that 51 percent cited “financial know- how” as the most important life lesson to share with their children.
Before launching financialfootprint.com in August 2010, Kittredge turned to the Center for Marketing Technology (CMT) at Bentley for assistance in validating the business concept and go-to-market strategy. A team of Bentley students, led by CMT Director Ian Cross, conducted market research to understand students’ knowledge of personal finance -- they explored the need for advice among students, the type of advice they’re looking for, and how they want to receive that advice. Students from Bentley and a wide range of business and liberal arts students from colleges throughout the Northeast were among the survey participants.
“Results showed that students are very intimidated by the act of managing their own finances, and they typically only get help from their parents,” notes Cross of the findings. “There is a definite need for this kind of service. If students at Bentley – a school with a strong background in accounting, finance and business -- need help, then the need is likely even greater at other colleges.”
In addition to providing an effective hands-on learning opportunity for students working in the CMT, Cross views the relationship with financialfootprint as an extension of Bentley’s commitment to social responsibility -- supporting start-up businesses and also assisting students and families as they chart a financial course through college and into the work force.
Kittredge, who has worked in the financial services industry for 25 years - most recently as senior vice president for Lincoln Financial Group in Philadelphia - says that while the industry is familiar with financial planning for baby boomers, it does a poor job of providing help to young adults, particularly students.
“The one-to-one personalized service that we’re delivering is our core-value proposition, and we’ve wrapped our web site around that,” he says of financialfootprint.com. “What we’re offering young adults is access to experts in personal finance who educate and provide guidance across a range of topics pertinent to this age demographic.”
financialfootprint.com offers objective personal finance guidance and education and does not sell any products. The company generates revenue via subscriptions at a cost of $120 per year and provides a money-back guarantee. Incoming Bentley freshmen will receive a free subscription to the service for one semester. Additional pricing models include institutional subscriptions for the benefit of the student body.
“Our mission is to empower young adults through education to make smart financial decisions,” says Kittredge.
The Center for Marketing Technology at Bentley University is a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to qualitative and quantitative marketing research and analysis to deliver action-oriented consumer insights. The CMT is also dedicated to staying at the forefront of marketing technology and best practices and providing workshops and seminars on new tools and marketing concepts.