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Monday, Sep 25, 2023

Cal Lutheran Curriculum Focusing on Financial Planning

In order to cater to increasing demand, Thousand Oaks’ Cal Lutheran University has inaugurated its California Institute of Finance to provide financial planning education programs, including an online Masters of Business Administration in financial planning. “We’ve tried to replicate the classroom experience as much as we could. One of the underpinnings of the program was quality,” Somnath Basu, the Institute’s director, said. “It is a degree program. Our understanding was that there was a fairly large demand for a degree in financial planning but we were limited by our geographical location. By going online we can meet this pent-up demand by taking it nationwide and worldwide to let students fit the course into their schedule.” Indeed Cal Lutheran is attempting to go global, having begun talks with partners in South Korea, China, India and Brazil to help disseminate information. Along with the new Institute and the current MBA in certified financial planning, the University will begin offering its first online MBA and certificate programs in financial planning in January 2005. The online courses will be conducted via live chat rooms, e-mail, message boards, Web pages, presentations and pre-recorded lectures. Coursework will be provided on a CD; however, all examinations and discussions will be completed online. “My expectations are very high for the program. Until the advent of easily available information technology, small universities were at a disadvantage. But now we have the same resources that a UCLA or a USC has. Information technology has put us on equal ground, it will be a great opportunity for us and for our students,” Ronald Hagler, Cal Lutheran’s MBA program director, said. For professionals interested in research, the Institute is working to establish a virtual financial planning library as well as a case study journal and a financial planning database. Additionally, the Institute will provide a series of seminars, conferences, continuing education credit classes and networking opportunities at sites throughout the region. “No other universities currently offer a financial planning graduate degree. There are 500,000-600,000 people who call themselves financial planners in the United States but only 44,000 are actually board certified. People without the credential will be found out and those with it will become increasingly more desirable,” Basu said. Types of students The Institute plans to cater to three types of constituents: people currently in the financial planning profession, people changing their careers mid-stream, and recent college graduates looking for a degree in financial planning. They plan to market themselves domestically by using online marketing on websites such as Google and Gradschools.com. Additionally, they are marketing themselves at various financial planning institutions and on the campuses of universities that do not offer such a graduate program. “The Institute is probably going to give us more recognition. We think that we’ve always had a quality finance program but people often don’t even know where Cal Lutheran is located,” Hagler said. “It will increase our notoriety. The Institute plays to our strengths and we think there’s a need to be filled.” However, not everyone is in accordance that such a need exists. Woodland Hills-based Certified Financial Planner Marc T. Adelman, branch manager for the Adelman Financial West Group, believes that a standard two-year financial planning course is sufficient training for the rigors of the industry. “It’s a little redundant. The benefits would primarily be in marketing oneself. The CFP course is already very comprehensive,” Adelman said. “As a financial planner, most of those skills are not even required. In-depth analytical skills are rarely used by the professionals themselves. Say you work for Merrill Lynch, they don’t even let you do technical research. It’s a sale jobs as much as anything else. You mainly sell the products that the firm you work for sells.” In spite of this, Basu believes that the fledgling program will become a success and a major addition to the University. “It’s going to be very interactive. People will be able to get an MBA on their own schedule, which is good for busy professionals. We are recruiting internationally-known professors to teach our courses. Our digital library is going to be excellent. We will be able to provide virtually anything at the touch of a keyboard,” Basu said. “The general MBA course in the financial planning program will have an emphasis towards financial services. Even in the general classes, financial planning will be emphasized. Anyone coming out of this program will be very qualified. We are providing the training that corporations spend millions of dollars on. It will make graduates very sought after.” On Course Online MBA in Financial Planning, California Institute of Finance Why? -To foster research in financial planning via a new online research library -To meet growing demand for certified financial planners Who does this cater to? -People currently in the financial planning profession -People changing their careers mid-stream who are interested in financial planning -Recent college graduates looking for post-graduate study in financial planning

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