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Program developing new form of financial planning

By The Mercury

Many recent graduates feel a sense of responsibility to bring pride to their alma mater and find success. The pressure on Julie Cumbie’s shoulders may be even more intense — she is the first graduate from Kansas State’s hybrid personal financial planning doctoral program.

Cumbie, an assistant professor of finance at the University of Central Oklahoma, completed her studies in the 4-year-old program in August.

She said the program, which is mostly online except for 10 days a year when students must come to campus, appealed to her because of its flexibility and challenges.

The program’s director, Sonya Britt, said this is one aspect that makes Kansas State’s program stand out.

As one of only a few schools in the nation with a personal financial planning doctoral program and the only program with online components, Britt said the program has enjoyed a growing sense of community among its students. The university’s personal financial planning doctoral program is also making waves for its nontraditional approach to financial planning.

In addition to the fiscal responsibility aspect of the profession, the program places a heavy emphasis on financial therapy — a blend of financial planning, relationship therapy and psychological therapy.

This separates Kansas State’s program from other financial planning programs, which focus more on economic models and traditional financial theory.

While these necessary skills also are included in Kansas State’s program, Britt said financial therapy helps clients understand why they’re overspending versus simply explaining what a budget is or how to plan for retirement.

“It’s important to blend the emotional side of money with the strictly monetary side,” she said. “It’s communication training for the financial planner to help them understand what the client’s goals are and how to help reach them.”

Graduates from Kansas State’s program, including Cumbie, will have the tools to integrate this therapy training into their own programs. Britt said the goal is for graduates from the doctoral program to go on to create financial planning programs at other institutions and help shape the profession.

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