Harvard MBA launches ‘pHERsonal’ finance course for women

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Eryn Schultz, left, speaking to the Harvard Business School Women’s Student Association. Schultz started a business to guide women on financial matters. Courtesy photo

Eryn Schultz enjoys teaching a subject that others may find intimidating: women’s personal finances. It’s a different career path than the 34-year-old Harvard Business School graduate planned – another case of unexpectedly changing lives during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I changed industries and I became an entrepreneur, throughout the pandemic,” she says.

Schultz’s passion for helping women make personal financial decisions developed accidentally. Originally from Houston, Texas, she entered HBS in 2013 with dreams of starting a business in the food industry or working for a nonprofit organization full time after earning her MBA. She worked for a grocery chain outside of School B, then landed her dream job at Revolution Foods, a healthy school catering company, where she worked not only with food but – at her. big surprise – finance.

With Revolution Foods, Schultz has earned a reputation as an informal internal 401k advisor. It all started with conversations with colleagues about retirement. She liked to help others and gradually, through word of mouth, coworkers started asking her for help. She realized that although women are generally hesitant to talk about personal finance, the need is still there.

“People are very hungry for these conversations,” she says.

Eryn Schultz with his parents at his HBS graduation in 2015. Courtesy photo

AN ONLINE FINANCE COURSE FOR WOMEN

When Schultz began to explore the world of women and finance more, she found that many of her highly educated friends were uncomfortable talking about managing their portfolio issues. It’s a problem men don’t have, she says.

“Men talk about finances more openly – this is seen as much more acceptable by society,” says Schultz. “Money is such a taboo subject, but men are more comfortable talking about money management and are more likely to talk about it, so there are more informal conversations about it in networks. male versus female. As a result, men are better informed on how to manage their personal finances, which leaves women at a disadvantage in managing their own finances because they have not participated in these conversations.

Schultz, pursuing her new passion, facilitated a two hour financial workshop for HBS women; afterwards, she spoke to the participants and asked for their comments. And that’s how she learned that they longed for more talk about managing personal finances and a way to gain the confidence to be self-sufficient with their money.

In October 2020, Schultz made a big decision: she would quit Revolution Foods and become a full-time entrepreneur behind her own online course called pHERsonal Finance Day, launched earlier in the year, which targets a specific audience: high-income professional women. Her goal is to empower women to take action to improve their understanding of their personal finances, because “this is who I am and this is what I know best”.

Schultz has completed his course three times this year. It was a timely launch, she notes, as many have had downtime during the coronavirus pandemic, and some have set themselves the goal of getting their finances under control.

AN ACCEPTED STUDENT – PROVIDED THAT THEY ARE NOT INTIMIDATED

Her first cohort was mainly made up of women from Harvard Business School. By her third cohort, which Schultz currently teaches, the audience has become very mixed and is mostly made up of non-HBS female students. Her next class starts in January.

His plan is to have two classes going, separating those with a solid background in finance from those without. Her goal is to create an empowering atmosphere in her online classroom where women can openly discuss their personal finances without the daunting pressure of societal norms. She does, however, have a student who she believes could take the course – as long as he isn’t intimidated by women.

In Schultz’s 10-week course, students should only devote one hour per week to the course to minimize information overload. “If you throw a lot of information at someone at once, they’re less likely to take action,” says Schultz. Each week, Schultz focuses on a different element of personal finance, with topics on personal audits examining monthly spending habits, investments, and retirement options, to name a few. Students are also encouraged to communicate and discuss homework with each other through Slack.

“It’s just a financial education class,” says Schultz. She specifically educates her students on understanding and managing their personal finances and does not advise on individual financial decision making. For example, if a student asks what stocks he should invest in, Schultz will gently remind him that this is outside the scope of what she is offering in her class.

ONE WOMAN SHOW

Schultz is currently a one-woman show that manages all aspects of the course. If her student base grows dramatically, she says, she’ll enlist someone else to help her. She built the program on the basis of personal finance books, interviews with financial planners with years of experience, and interviews with women, bringing together their most common finance-related questions. She continually updates the program based on feedback from her students, as any qualified teacher would.

Schultz does not have a complex strategy for marketing the course; she has so far gained students through word of mouth. New students discovered the course through referrals from former students or via Instagram where she regularly posts financial success tips. It currently has a large audience of around 1,300 people.

If someone has doubts about her qualifications as an educator, her concerns can be assuaged after learning that she has passed the Series 65 exam which tests her knowledge of financial concepts. The exam also qualifies her to give investment advice, although, as mentioned above, giving advice is not part of her course. Schultz is also set to become a certified financial planner next year.

Schultz is not sure why personal finance is barely addressed in the MBA program. “There is a gap in education. You are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for this great degree, and students are very well equipped to handle their business finances, but they are much less equipped to manage their own finances. If you have an MBA, you know what a stock and a bond are, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you know what to do with them in your own portfolio.

Why are universities reluctant to teach personal finance? Schultz believes it could be due to a multitude of factors, one being liability issues.

“If universities give advice to students and a student comes back and says ‘I’ve lost money,’ they could potentially sue. Giving financial advice is a very heavily regulated space, so there is some discomfort in dipping your toes in this water, ”she says. Another factor is that there are many competing subjects in an MBA that professors find of greater importance and which take precedence over personal finance. Schultz has been in contact with the career development department at HBS, and she hopes the business school will incorporate her course into their curriculum.

In the meantime, she proposes Poets and Quants readers a discount; visit https://www.phersonalfinanceday.com/ and use the code POETSANDQUANTS for 10% off his course, normally priced at $ 350.

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