Commencement Address: Learning to Be Financially Smart

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A Commencement Address Many Wish They Heard 20 Years Ago

 

Dear Graduates,

Congratulations! You are about to embark on the next phase of your life. Now that you have graduated from your respective school, whether it be high school, college, or graduate school you will be faced with making very important decisions about your future. Consider yourself already a success in that while looking back many of you have overcome challenges of managing time, studying, family, and other responsibilities. Some of you may have already been working while completing your respective degrees.

By default, you have already overcome the hurdle of being able to juggle so much yet staying focused to complete a major milestone in your academic career. Therefore, while already achieving a level of success you may realize that looking back at some of the adversities you have experienced now appear immaterial. Those moments should provide lessons that in your life realizing that while times may appear difficult in the moment, those circumstances will pass.

You may have spent time in class learning about different subjects and developing relationships with your peers. As we know schools typically require courses to complete a particular area of study in order to receive your degree(s). The point of having a structured curriculum is not as much to make you an expert at any particular field of study, but to provide the fundamental understanding of a particular topic so that you may learn to apply it in the future. Some may continue learning more about particular topics (i.e. – math and science) in order a grow in their respective profession that utilizes those advanced skills. For many, it is not until we start our careers that we realize how to apply some of the aspects of our education to material use.

A lot of what we learn in school is theoretical and may not have the opportunity to apply it until we graduate. While in graduate school, my portfolio management professor required us to purchase a relatively expensive textbook. On the first day of class, he clipped 50 specific pages in his copy to show the class that those would be the critical topics that we will cover in order to learn the theory behind portfolio management, but also the practical aspects too. While he was a professional in his own right, managing a pension fund for a large telecommunication company, he made a good point in a lot of what we learn in school is theoretical, and very little is applied. As he shared with us on the first day of class, “whatever many of us may have learned in college or elsewhere, leave it at the door. We are going to learn the real world of managing investments”. It was a bold statement, but a pretty accurate one.

My “statement” for all the newly minted graduates is not to wait to begin planning for your financial future. If you may already be aware that it is something you need to do so you may live a comfortable lifestyle in the future then it may make sense to start building that financially smart “foundation” today. It could be working on a plan to pay off student debt, building an investment portfolio, or simply opening a retirement account. Perhaps doing all 3 in a coordinated and palatable manner. It may take a bit of work to incorporate a new system of managing your finances, but it may pay off in the long run. The plan itself does not need to be extravagant, but something that creates a suitable financial foundation that over time will easily be managed and tailored as your life develops. Many other aspects of planning will be addressed over time as your life develops.

Some of you may have already begun working right after graduation. Others may decide to travel for a few weeks before starting work. Whatever the case might be while looking ahead in your career, think about where you want to be financially, not just in your career. Some may have aspirations of becoming a leader in their firms or create an organization to help those in need. While those are commendable goals, it is important to take care of yourself first.

Establishing a financially smart infrastructure earlier on in your career will build the discipline and drive to make financially smart and fiscally responsible decisions with your money. It does not mean opening many accounts or buying an array of insurance would be the best answer. Rather setting up the necessary accounts to begin a coordinated framework on saving, investment, and protecting. Over time, as your life develops through milestone events, and more demands are pressed upon you, a lot of the personal financial structure that you setup would not be something that you will have to be concerned with as much as how to make minor tweaks while maintaining your trajectory of financial success.

 

Registered representative of and securities offered through Hornor, Townsend & Kent, Inc. (HTK), Registered Investment Advisor, member FINRA/SIPC, 600 Dresher Road, Horsham, PA 19044, (215) 957-7300. HTK does not accept time-sensitive or action-oriented messages delivered via e-mail, including authorization to “buy” or “sell” a security or instructions to conduct any other financial transaction.2599013AL_JUN21

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