Cardan Capital Partners is pleased to introduce William “Mac” Lyons, an intern learning the ropes of finance in our offices this summer. Mac, a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, is a rising junior majoring in accounting and finance at the University of Colorado Boulder. He is a member and the treasurer of CU Boulder’s Delta Kappa Epsilon chapter and enjoys playing intramural basketball. We recently asked him to share a few of his thoughts about his career interests — and his observations about the financial literacy of American youth.
Why are you interested in pursuing a career in financial services?
It is one of the most broadly-encompassing career paths out there, and the opportunities are seemingly endless. It can be difficult to determine where to begin when it comes to picking a specific career that matches personal interests and strengths, so at this point, I am taking the time to learn the language of finance and really get to know the basics of financial planning and investing. But I already know this much: It is important for more young people to have more financial literacy — and it is concerning that so many of us do not. I would like to help change that.
What have you noticed about the financial literacy of people your age?
See the graphic below from VisualCapitalist.com showing that fewer than 20% of American students are required to take personal finance classes in high school. I wasn’t — and a lot of my college classmates weren’t, either. Additionally, student-loan borrowers are struggling to repay their debts; young adults are not saving for their retirement; and while the United States has the world’s largest economy, it is ranked No. 14 globally for adult financial literacy. I want to help change those statistics.
How are you trying to improve your financial literacy — and what advice do you have for high school and college students who trying to do the same?
Get to know the basics of financial planning and investing. At first, I found it difficult and intimidating to track financial articles and news reports filled with jargon I didn’t understand — but in time, I learned there’s actually a wide selection of literature and many knowledgeable professionals who make financial concepts easy to understand. Among the resources I appreciate:
- The Economist, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg.com. These publications are packed with current political events reported with an eye on finance. For college students on a budget, subscriptions for home delivery are affordable — and there’s always the library, where the reading is free. Bloomberg’s website makes it especially easy to track commodities, stocks, rates and bonds, currencies, and many other relevant financial measures throughout the day.
- The Big Secret for the Small Investor by Joel Greenblatt, managing principal and co-chief investment officer of Gotham Asset Management. His 2011 book explains the basic principles of investment and offers a simple, yet specific, framework for intelligent investing. The book provides an introduction to valuation, different types of investments (bonds, stocks, mutual funds and more) and to indexing.
- The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham, widely known as the “father of value investing” and one of the most highly regarded financial advisors of the 20th century. This classic book, first published in 1949, provides a more advanced overview of investing.
- Networking. I have found that meeting with people to discuss finance has been every bit as helpful as reading about it. Young people can find it difficult to make personal connections with seasoned financial advisors, but I have been pleasantly surprised by how approachable and welcoming “the adults” have been when I have contacted them to ask questions about financial concepts and about career opportunities. I highly encourage other students to send emails, asking to set up times for brief chats or meetings. High schools and colleges also often sponsor student groups and clubs focused on financial literacy and entrepreneurship. Two organizations I have participated in at CU Boulder are the Leeds Investment and Trading Group and the Startup Club. I’ve certainly become more financially literate by surrounding myself with peers who can speak the language and use it to craft intelligent and thought-provoking ideas. Clubs in general are a great way to gain exposure to the field and to meet peers who are trying to do the same. The lifelong connections could be invaluable.
The content contained within, or linked to, this article do not represent the opinions and viewpoints of Cardan Capital Partners. It is meant for educational purposes and not meant for consumer trading decisions. There is no assurance that any of the trends mentioned will continue in the future.