The Department of Agricultural Economics in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences received approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to create a Bachelor of Science degree program in financial planning. 

The new bachelor’s degree program will start Aug. 15.

This will be the first degree from Texas A&M University that focuses specifically on holistic financial planning, which involves managing household short- and long-term financial goals across various areas such as risk management, insurance, investments, retirement, household taxation, estate and retirement planning.

Growing demand for financial planners

Financial planning is one of the fastest-growing career fields, with an increasing number of people turning to these professionals to help them make informed decisions to achieve their financial goals.

Nathan Harness, Ph.D, shaking hands with someone at Texas A&M financial planning event
Nathan Harness, Ph.D., left, director of financial planning in the Texas A&M Department of Agricultural Economics, visits with a student at the financial planning career fair. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Michael Miller)

The Texas Workforce Commission estimates that in the decade from 2018 to 2028, the number of personal financial advisers will grow by 25.3%, almost double the average growth rate across all occupations.

“With trillions of dollars estimated to pass between the oldest three generations in the coming decade, the need for holistic financial planning has never been greater,” said Nathan Harness, Ph.D., an instructional professor and director of financial planning in the Department of Agricultural Economics. “There is a lot of demand from individuals wanting sound retirement investment advice, as well as advice on other future investment needs, from an industry in which the current average age of a certified financial planner is about 60.”  

Texas A&M’s expanding financial planning program

The Texas A&M financial planning program got its start thanks to Bill Carter ‘69 of Carter Financial Management. Carter, and his wife, Fran, have established a $5 million planned gift to support the program.

Currently, Texas A&M’s financial planning program is offered as a minor for undergraduates. Students who successfully complete all coursework requirements are eligible to sit for the Certified Financial Planner Exam. For professionals, an Extended Learning Certificate Program is offered to those wanting to become a certified financial planner.

“Overall, the approval for an official degree program in financial planning is an important development that will benefit both the students and the university,” Harness said. “It will provide students with the knowledge and skills needed for a successful career in financial planning and help fill the gap left by an aging workforce in the financial planning profession.”

A room at a Financial Planning Career Fair hosted at Texas A&M with  people talking at tables
A financial planning career fair hosted on the Texas A&M University campus attracted record number of potential employers and students. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Michael Miller)

Rudy Nayga, Ph.D, head of the Department of Agricultural Economics, said the diverse faculty and unique curriculum offered by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences gives students a competitive advantage, equipping them to provide confident and secure financial planning to all clients.

“We provide a curriculum, unlike any other financial planning degree, giving students access to a breadth of knowledge and industry-focused faculty,” Nayga said. “The financial planning program emphasizes economics, ethical engagement, problem-solving, risk management and communication while leveraging the unique curriculum offered in the Department of Agricultural Economics of entrepreneurship, sales, economic analysis and policy.”

Nayga and Harness said this new degree curriculum will leverage educational programs in sales, entrepreneurship, agricultural economics and agribusiness – all of which are critical to success in the financial planning profession and specialization needed to meet the unique needs of the state of Texas.

More than a degree program

The financial planning degree program will be a flexible program providing a comprehensive curriculum that serves current undergraduate students, former students and working professionals.

“We provide knowledge that goes beyond the exam and incorporates real world materials essential to developing skilled, comprehensive financial planners,” Harness said. “Our goal is to prepare students for a career in financial planning by positioning them to become competitive in this rapidly growing industry.”

He added the program teaches beyond the exam, incorporating the core values of Texas A&M within its courses.

“Emphasis is placed on excellence, integrity, leadership and entrepreneurship — and this differentiates our program from others,” he said.

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