Financial Advisor Marketing & Technology

Marketing & Technology For Independent Financial Advisors

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Finding More Meaning In Life

Texas Tech University opened a technology complex for financial planning students yesterday that was financed with a $1 million contribution from the Charles Schwab Foundation.

The building, which is part of the school's Division of Personal Financial Planning is undoubtedly the world's best collection of planning technology tools ever assembled to educate students. If you're studying to become a financial advisor, you get trained on applications you actually will use when you get a job.

While the movement to transform the job of giving financial advice into a profession has progressed over the last decade at a maddeningly slow pace, the lab is a leap forward.

  • It’s a way of providing real-life training for students
  • It sets a new standard in educating the next generation of advisors
  • It establishes a benchmark for other schools to meet or beat
  • It creates a baseline for software features to meet to be part of an educational curriculum
  • It establishes the types of tools will become part of an advisor’s desktop.

There are probably lots of other reasons why opening this lab is a significant event in the effort to shift the role of financial advisors from salesmen to professionals. The point of this post is to acknowledge how and why this lab opened.

  • How did a school in Lubbock, Texas pull this off?
  • Why did Charles Schwab, who received a BA and an MBA from Stanford University, donate $1 million to this school?
  • Who thought of this lab and followed through to get the building constructed?

The answer: Deena Katz.

Aside from waving hello at conferences, I haven’t caught up with Ms. Katz in several years. We did a series of speaking engagements together about five years ago and were in touch regularly for about two years back then, and I learned what a good person she is.

Ms. Katz was surely the one who tapped Charles Schwab for the money, a contribution to the profession that he, too, deserves being acknowledged for making.

An Associate Professor at Texas Tech, Ms. Katz is mentioned in the last paragraph of yesterday’s press release about the opening of the lab for her role as “coordinator of the initiative.” While I'm sure when she reads this post, she will say that so many other people were responsible for it, this complex started with Deena Katz.

In one of those 60-second conversations that we all have with colleagues at conferences, Ms. Katz told me two or three years ago that she was trying to build a financial planning technology lab for students at the school.

The last time we had a chance to talk at any length was when we shared a taxicab to an airport somewhere about four years ago. Ms. Katz told me she was going to pull back from practicing as an advisor to become an educator at Texas Tech. I was mystified about why she would shift her life from being one of the best known advisors in the nation with a lucrative practice to become a teacher.

She yearned for more meaning in her life, she told me. She said teaching the next generation of advisors could be a way to make her life more meaningful.

Clearly, it has been.

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