November 22, 2019
(Courtesy: JAX Daily Record)
If you want to be a certified financial planner, the University of North Florida is among the best universities in the U.S. to enroll.
In its recent evaluation of 67 four-year collegiate CFP curriculums, Wealth Management magazine ranked UNF No. 5 in the nation, ahead of Clemson University (No. 31), Perdue University (No. 20), Stetson University (No. 19) and the University of South Florida (No. 44).
Scoring criteria included number of degrees awarded, expertise and experience of faculty and strength of curriculum.
“We know we have a great program and we beat some of the top programs with national recognition,” said Ron Heymann, director of UNF’s financial planning program.
A UNF visiting professor, Heymann is a certified financial planner and partner at Davis Capital Management, a registered investment adviser firm.
Financial planning is a major at UNF that leads to a bachelor of business administration degree. Seventy-five credits are required in courses such as financial and managerial accounting, calculus and statistics for business, legal environment of business, securities analysis, estate and tax planning and financial plan development.
The CFP designation is administered by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc., a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. that registered CFP as a trademark.
Services provided to clients by CFPs include basic budgeting, saving for education, planning for retirement and managing taxes and insurance coverage.
The university’s curriculum is designed to fully prepare students for careers in financial planning.
“When you graduate from UNF, you’re ready to take the CFP exam. We’re turning out financial planners,” Heymann said.
The designation is based on education, experience and ethics. It is granted after an applicant meets the board’s criteria in each area and passes a comprehensive 10-hour examination.
“An applicant puts in between 1,500 and 2,000 hours of course work and review to prepare for the exam. It’s not quite the Bar exam, but it’s more difficult than the exam for an MBA,” Heymann said.
The university has awarded 310 degrees in financial planning; 75 students are enrolled in UNF’s financial planning major in the fall semester, 52 men and 23 women.
Heymann said local job prospects for graduates with degrees in finance are numerous, considering the range of financial institutions with a presence in Northeast Florida.
“There’s no reason a graduate can’t find a career in Jacksonville, considering how many companies there are here. They can’t fill positions fast enough with local talent,” Heymann said.
Paul Twum is a senior at UNF planning to graduate in December with a bachelor of business administration. He also plans to sit for the CFP exam in July after taking the course review program offered at UNF.
Twum said having instructors who are certified financial planners and UNF’s student chapter of the Financial Planners Association helped him begin his career in finance while he’s in school.
Another asset at UNF, he said, is the university’s student chapter of the Financial Planners Association that hosts networking events that connect students and financial professionals.
“You can find out about job opportunities and learn how to stand out in the job market,” he said.
The resources helped Twum get a job as a relationship banker with JPMorgan Chase & Co. while he’s finishing his degree.
Even if a graduate does not decide to seek certification in financial planning, the courses can have benefits for students, Heymann said.
“Regardless of eventual career path, we’re teaching financial literacy to a large number of undergrad students,” he said.