What Is a Hokie Anyway??
A question we Virginia Tech alumni get a lot (and I’m sure our answers vary). If you’ve perused our website, you’ve likely noticed a few VT graduates on the team. Some of us met many years ago, some only a few years ago – but what we all have in common is graduating from the same financial planning program. While the curriculum has changed over the years spanning RPJ’s graduates (about 15 years, but who’s counting), there are many things that have stayed the same. Given how proud we are of our alma mater and the education we received, I thought I’d share my thoughts on why this degree is so valuable.
Back in my, Brett, and Liz’s time at Virginia Tech, the degree we received was actually in Housing, Interior Design and Resource Management with a focus in Family Financial Planning. I remember sending out graduation announcements and my aunt asking when I decided to become an interior designer! The program was only a few years old and had yet to find the right home within the college. In fairness, our profession was not widely popular at the time, though we had pioneers like Don Rembert working to change that perception for many years. The track was heavily influenced by the Certified Financial Planning board, helping us focus on standardized and elevated client service expectations. We took a mix of traditional finance classes like Accounting, Investments in Real Estate, and Marketing Management. However, we also took more personal financial planning focused classes like Wills, Trusts, and Estates, Managing Retirement and Employee Benefits, and Consumer Rights. I even remember taking a Human Development class where for one day our assignment was to experience the aging process: we wore glasses with Vaseline to simulate vision problems and special weighted shoes to help us understand mobility issues. Our classes were mixed together to create the base for our very specific profession: to help our clients manage their finances in an ethical and intelligent way.
Senior year, our final project was to create a comprehensive financial plan for a theoretical client using only Microsoft Word and Excel. Here at RPJ we have sophisticated software to complete this data analysis, but back at Virginia Tech our project was focused on the basics: show your client how to afford retirement, education costs, navigate insurance needs, and assure their estate planning is in order. And make Excel your best friend.
While in school, we were also required to complete a summer internship in the field, which helped us prepare for the real world and gain more insight on how to put our academic strengths into real life practice. We joined the Financial Planning Association as student members, learning to network and utilize other advisor’s knowledge to better the profession. Our classes were small and we traveled to FPA events together, helping to build friendships that have lasted to this day.
As the years went on the program eventually found its current home in the Pamplin College of Business as a Financial Planning degree. David and Danny are our most recent graduates, and their classes were similar yet more finely focused. Given our company’s strong bond with the program, Rembert Pendleton Jackson provides an annual donation to help the program thrive. We also help seniors by completing mock interviews and awarding a merit-based scholarship each year.
As the financial planning profession evolves, I still find myself leaning on principles we learned back at Virginia Tech: The client always comes first. Deliver accurate, comprehensive information. Ethics matter.
Plus, we all love going back to experience “Enter Sandman” at Lane Stadium. Go Hokies!