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Professor Richard Fisher Teaches Students How to Take Charge of Their Finances

Publication Date: 2/4/2010

Rhodes students looking for personal financial advice are seeking refuge in Professor Richard Fisher’s business topics course titled Personal Financial Management. As students begin to think about life after college, they’re plagued by questions about student loans, personal investments, and credit scores, and Professor Fisher is answering their call.

Fisher, a Certified Public Accountant and personal financial advisor, says, “I started teaching the course to assist students who would soon be graduating from college. With the difficulty of college students finding jobs becoming more of a central issue during the recession, my focus accelerated in order to try to bring any assistance I could to help individuals out of that situation and to focus on making every dollar count.”

The course is designed as a total approach to helping individuals understand and manage their resources. Fisher teaches students how to budget their resources, how to approach the management of debt, and how to develop a disciplined approach to the investment process. In addition to advanced investment topics, the course focuses on practical matters such as how to buy or lease a car and a home.

The credit card industry often preys on students by making credit cards too readily available, and by offering introductory proposals to lure students into signing up without careful consideration. In response to this, the course focuses on the nuances of interest rates and the problematic effects of not making payments on time, including how one’s credit history can pose difficult problems. Student loans and other aspects of the credit management process are a central focus of the course.

Fisher stresses, “There are particular ways that the mismanagement of credit can be costly not only in terms of higher interest rates and higher insurance premiums, but also in more subtle ways. For example, an employer may not hire an individual for a job because he or she has a poor credit score. I try to focus on the not-so-obvious aspects so that individuals can look at credit as a process and as a discipline, so they won’t be taken in by lenders that are making credit so readily available.”

While Fisher sees his students as individuals, he also recognizes they are part of a family unit, and he sends financial advice home with them to their families. Because recent market instability has caused many families to lose money in retirement plans and in other investments, Fisher says, “One of the most critical points in my course is teaching students to think about a disciplined approach to investments and maybe discussing with their parents how the family unit quantifies and manages risks in an investment climate that is still potentially problematic.”

As a final piece of advice, Fisher says, “Work hard and earn an honest living. If you don’t stay ahead of the debt curve, you will find yourself potentially becoming a slave to the debt management process rather than someone who can manage it. Therefore, I try to teach students to let their money work for them so they will never find themselves forced to stay one day ahead of the next financial problem. I emphasize being proactive about one’s financial affairs, never letting them catch you unaware of a problem that is too late to solve.”

Professor Fisher holds both bachelor and master’s degrees in accounting from The University of Virginia.  In addition to being a CPA, he holds five other professional certifications, including several from professional planning organizations.  He has been advising high net worth individuals regarding their financial affairs for over 30 years and has also served as a global portfolio manager for several decades.

For media interested in contacting Professor Fisher, email fisherr@rhodes.edu

Read what Fisher had to say in the television interview “Students Learn to Handle Debt Responsibly,” MyEyewitnessNews.com, February 4, 2010.  >>

(information compiled by Rhodes Student Associate Brianna McCullough ′10)

Tags: Faculty

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