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Helping Others Through an MSFP from Bentley
When Tyler Dolan MSFP ’11 was in preschool, he wanted to be a police officer. Today, he is a financial planner. It may sound like the two jobs lack commonality, but Dolan sees otherwise.
“I’ve always wanted to have an occupation where I could help people,” Dolan says. “Seeing the impact of an optimized plan that really helps people reach their life and financial goals has been extremely rewarding. Although I’m not making a difference fighting crime, I’m humbled to help make a difference in people’s lives by helping them toward a financial freedom that’s rooted in their personal values.”
Dolan works as a financial planner at Society of Grownups, a company that provides financial education through online courses, other digital tools and resources, and stories from a community of fellow Grownups.
Here, Dolan shares his journey to financial planning through Bentley’s five-year Master of Science in Financial Planning (MSFP) program.
Why did you decide to pursue your MSFP degree?
Tyler Dolan: I’ve always been fascinated by investing. While an undergrad at Bentley, I worked as an intern at UBS Financial Services in Boston. The team I worked with focused on wealth management, especially investment management, and I enjoyed my experience. When I was choosing a graduate program, I decided that the financial planning program would give me a more rounded education in personal finance since it offered an education in taxation, employee benefits, insurance and retirement planning in addition to investment planning.
Why did you choose Bentley specifically to pursue your MSFP degree?
TD: Bentley was a natural fit for me to continue on to the graduate program. Bentley was one of the only schools offering a personal financial planning specific program; it was more cost effective to utilize the five-year program at Bentley rather than pursuing a two-year graduate degree at another institution.
Which course was the most impactful?
TD: The most impactful course I took during my graduate studies was in behavioral finance. Learning about how people’s previous experience with and attitudes toward money can have a huge impact on their financial decision making process was fascinating. I also learned a lot about myself as I worked through the class, and I still apply those skills during client-facing experiences. What I appreciated most about the program was how the majority of professors brought their real world experiences into the classroom. It really helped connect the coursework to reality.
What are the top three skills you gained in your program at Bentley and why? What specifics can you share?
TD: I gained quite a few skills through the graduate program at Bentley, but here are the top three:
Collaboration. This was a skill that I began to develop during my undergraduate studies at Bentley. We were always encouraged to work in groups for projects; that’s how most projects work in the business world. It was really helpful to gain the experience in delegating work based on skill sets, face-to-face communication during meetings, and online communication beyond that. I really value those skills because they enabled me to fit right into a team-oriented atmosphere.
Spreadsheets. Everywhere I’ve worked in my career has relied on spreadsheets in some capacity. The various projects I worked on during both my undergraduate and graduate studies forced me to become proficient with spreadsheets. Being able to quickly understand, improve or design processes using spreadsheets has been one of the most important skills that I still use today.
Research. You can Google anything these days, but that doesn’t always mean you’re able to quickly find accurate information. My coursework also forced me to become a proficient researcher; and I’m not talking about market research. I’m referring to developing the skill to know where to look for information and how to validate it. Whether citing sources in papers or learning how to operate the Bloomberg terminal in Bentley’s Trading Room, I’ve always valued the skills I gained in research.
What would you say to somebody on the fence about getting an MSFP degree and preparing for the CFP® exam?
TD: The coursework in the financial planning program satisfied the education requirement for the CFP® certification. With some additional time spent self-studying, I felt very well prepared to sit for the CFP® exam. Upon completing the examination, education, experience, and ethics requirement for the certification, I became a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional in 2012.
How did Bentley help you get to where you are today in your career?
TD: Being a Bentley alumni has been one of the most valuable tools in my career so far. Bentley alumni have been a common factor in every opportunity I’ve had in my career. I worked under Bentley alum during my internship, my manager at the first job I had out of school was a Bentley alum, and a Bentley alum connected me with Society of Grownups.
Bentley was also named No. 1 for Highest Freshman Retention Rate, No. 3 for Most Innovative Schools and No. 4 for Best Undergraduate Teaching among the regional universities in the “2019 Best Colleges” report.