April 25, 2023

NYU SPS Faculty Member and Fellow Contributors Celebrate Publication of “More Than Money: Real Life Stories of Financial Planning”

What is it like to be a financial planner? “More Than Money: Real Life Stories of Financial Planning” is a recently published collection of stories that brings the reader into the world of financial planning. On April 4, 2023, the NYU SPS Division of Programs in Business, Finance and Taxation hosted three of the book contributors, the NYU School of Professional Studies faculty member Matthew Ricks, along with Michael Kelly and Simon Tryzna to celebrate the publication. The conversation was moderated by Colin Slabach, PhD, Clinical Assistant Professor of Financial Planning for the M.S. in Financial Planning.

The panelists’  motivations for contributing to the book varied, with Kelly and Tryzna focusing on the psychological impacts and the benefits that can come from some of the pension planning work and other advice that professional financial planners provide. Ricks, who is focused on working with the disabled community, wanted to highlight how sometimes even well- intentioned professionals can cause harm if they don’t have the right expertise, such as familiarity with government benefits. He introduced technical elements of why this was the case in his story.

Financial planning as a growing field is not immune to misconceptions about what planners do. Kelly said that the idea of planning being focused heavily on the technical side and on investments is one misconception he himself had prior to entering the field. He said that there needs to be a relationship built, and not just a focus on transactions, in order to have the most impact. When Tryzna was beginning in the industry, he agreed that there was a strong focus on investment management and return of the portfolio. He said that there are often larger issues at play that need to be addressed. Sometimes, the term financial planner is used to describe insurance salesmen or investment managers and that can cloud the general public viewpoint of the industry, according Ricks.

Looking towards the future, Kelly said that he sees AI and technology as supporting him, but that the relationship aspect of financial planning will always be there. Ricks agrees that the human element is still important, at least for now. “So much of this job is not talking back figures, it’s talking about what’s behind some of the concerns,” said Ricks. The behavioral aspect is going to become even more important as technology progresses. “I'm excited to see what technology comes to us to be able to use those tools for clients. And I think that…we’re going to be able to spend more time with clients,” Tryzna added. He said that technology can help advisors be more efficient in their work.

The panelists also shared advice for those starting their own practice as financial planners. For Kelly, the most challenging part of starting his business was not getting in the weeds about everything and “trying to be perfect” but pulling back and asking if something is necessary. “At the end of the day there is an aspect of it that has to be revenue generating” he said, so that he can build the business and then be able to contribute altruistically.

Every financial planner can structure their fees differently. Another misconception is that you have to have high net worth in order to work with a financial planner. Information is out there and the industry does recognize it’s a massive need right now. There are also some softwares being developed to meet this gap.

The department of Finance and Taxation offers continuing education courses and 8 certificate programs in finance and a 30-credit MS in Financial Planning. The graduate program can be completed in as little as one year of full-time study, and prepares students for financial planning jobs. The program offers two concentrations in Behavioral Finance and in Financial Analytics, which meet the needs of clients who are more tech-savvy than ever and who are interested in ensuring their personal financial choices are both good for them and for society.

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