Students enrolled in Alfred State College’s financial planning program traveled to Brooklyn this fall to attend NAPFA’s (National Association of Personal Financial Advisors) Practice Management and Investments Conference. All had been recipients of full scholarships to the event. The Alfred College scholarship winners were sponsored by NAPFA, NAPFA Chairwoman Susan John, an anonymous firm, and the college. Excerpted here, portions of interviews with Rhoades and his students that appeared in AdvisorOne and in NAPFA Advisor Magazine (by Joyce Hanson), November 2011.
“These students work very hard, and they are excited about joining the financial planning profession. The exposure to the real world of advisers is invaluable,” said Dr. Ron Rhoades, CFP, assistant professor in the Business Department of Alfred State College, and curriculum coordinator of its financial planning program and NAPFA board member who coordinated the trip.
“The key is bringing the real world into the classroom,” said Rhoades. “Students can only learn so much from professors. I have seen our students networking at breakfast, listening to speakers from the financial industry and soaking up information like sponges. They are so excited to be here. Some of these students have never been out of the rural area of New York before,” Rhoades said, noting that the group was planning a field trip to Times Square on Tuesday night.
For the students, the conference was not only a reward for academic achievement but also a chance to meet advisers who might be able to provide them with internships and first jobs.
Bill Fahs, a senior from Wellsville who was part of the group, noted that listening to advanced-level speakers at the conference made him more confident about the baseline knowledge he has acquired as a student. “The presenters moved through the material very quickly, but I was surprised at how much of it I understood,” he said. “It wasn’t over my head, which I think shows the quality of our courses at school.”
Rhoades, a director on NAPFA’s national board, is the owner of a financial planning firm, ScholarFi Inc., but in August he moved from Florida to upstate New York to begin his teaching duties. To ensure he has sufficient time to teach, Rhoades keeps his client base small, at about 20.
Rhoades, who began his duties at Alfred State in 2011, earned a Juris Doctor degree, with honors, from the University of Florida College of Law, which was preceded by bachelor of science degree in business administration from Florida Southern College. Rhoades has over 25 years of experience as an attorney, with nearly all of those years substantially devoted to estate planning, tax planning, and retirement plan distribution planning. Rhoades also has over a decade of experience as a personal financial adviser, and he was a principal with an investment advisory firm, where he served as chair of its Investment Committee. He is involved with several financial planning organizations, writes the “One Man Think Tank” column for one industry publication, and he is the author of numerous articles published in financial industry publications. He is the author of two books and is a frequent speaker at national conferences in the financial planning and investment advisory professions. Rhoades is the recipient of The Tamar Frankel Fiduciary of the Year Award for 2011, from The Committee for the Fiduciary Standard, as he has “altered the course of the fiduciary discussion in Washington.” He was also named as one of the Top 25 Most Influential persons associated with the investment advisory profession in 2011 by Investment Advisor magazine.