The learning experience for students in Virginia Tech’s financial planning program got even better last fall, with the opening of the Charles Schwab Financial Planning Suite. Comprising classroom and informal meeting spaces, the suite was created with a $200,000 gift from the Charles Schwab Foundation.

Nationally recognized program

Virginia Tech’s financial planning program, designed for students interested in a career in financial planning and wealth management for individuals, is nationally recognized for its teaching and advising strengths, placement and alumni achievements, and active student Financial Planning Association group.

The program prepares graduates to earn the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification and become leaders in the profession.

Collaborative suite

Located at 302 Hutcheson Hall, the suite features a state-of-the-art audiovisual system. Users can connect their smartphone, tablet, or laptop to the high-resolution projector and sound system. They can use web-conferencing tools for online meetings, classes, and webinars, as well as collaborations with financial advisors around the country.

“The wireless display capabilities in the room foster collaborative work,” said Ruth Lytton, professor and program director. “Participants can easily share content during group work, and presenters can present from anywhere in the room.”

“The space, technology, and furnishings have provided great flexibility for lectures, demonstrations, and small group work,” said Derek Klock, an associate professor of practice who teaches a financial planning technology class in the room.

Virginia Tech President Tim Sands, Pamplin Dean Robert Sumichrast, and Executive Vice President and Head of Schwab Advisor Services Bernie Clark spoke at the suite’s dedication.

“We are proud to collaborate with Virginia Tech to inspire and assist students interested in pursuing careers as independent investment advisors,” said Clark.

“Maintaining a diverse talent pipeline and developing future leaders are critical to the success of firms in this industry,” he said. “We believe that the focused curriculum and cutting-edge facilities will position students in Virginia Tech’s financial planning program to meaningfully contribute to this growing and increasingly prominent field.”

Successful students and graduates

Virginia Tech’s Financial Planning Association student chapter was recognized with a mention in a February release from the office of Governor Terry McAuliffe for a case-study exercise the chapter developed for the 2017 Governor’s Challenge in Economics and Personal Finance.

Citing some of the program’s recent distinctions, Lytton noted that three of its graduates, all under age 30, were named to InvestmentNews’ “40 Under 40” list of up-and-coming financial professionals in 2015 and 2016. Program graduates are also sought after by the industry’s leading firms, many of which have hired multiple alumni as the firms have grown.

Numerous graduates, she said, are active in the profession, serving in various leadership roles in FPA chapters, including its national NextGen community, for members age 36 and under.

“The 2016, 2017, and just elected 2018 NexGen presidents are all Hokies,” Lytton said.