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For Good: USFSP develops financial literacy training

Sridhar (Sri) Sundaram, dean of the Kate Tiedemann College of Business at USFSP.

The unveiling of the Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Center at USFSP.

Unveiling event of the Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Center at USFSP.

Students inside the Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Center at USFSP.

Sri Sundaram, dean of the Kate Tiedemann College of Business at USFSP

With help from a $500,000 grant from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg will be rolling out training next fall for students and the general public in a mock Wall Street trading room.

The room is all set up and ready to go,” says Sridhar (Sri) Sundaram, Dean of the university’s Kate Tiedemann College of Business, who points out there will be very little actual trading there. “It’s become an education center. We are focused on wealth management.” Sri Sundaram, dean of the Kate Tiedemann College of Business

USFSP students also will be learning to manage a mutual fund, of sorts, with $250,000 in seed funding donated by Kate Tiedemann and Ellen Cotton, which was matched by Lynn Pippenger.

Half of the grant money will help run the center; the other half will fund financial literacy efforts. Instruction will be patterned after Bank of America’s Better Money Habits® curriculum.

These are “exciting times” for the college, Sundaram says. “We really are looking forward to continuing to develop the program.”

The center is in located in a new $30 million, four-story building, which brought the college’s 1,300 students together under one roof on campus in January 2017. It already is equipped with 24 computer terminals.

USFSP has hired Dr. Huijian Dong as director of the Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Center. He will join the staff in August, and will be developing academic programming for certified financial analyst and certified financial planner.

The simulated Wall Street environment includes the Bloomberg Professional Services platform and an LED ticker streaming stock market information streamed from St. Petersburg’s Intrinio.

“We’re going to have real world data. Not everything is going to be live,” he says. “It’s probably going to be delayed.”

The center will be utilized for a finance academy for high school students, programs on budget management for college students, and social security and retirement topics for the general community.

The hands-on training, which helps students prepare to work with real-life clients, has become part of training among top businesses schools.

The university began holding some finance classes at the center this semester. As it rolls out the new coursework next fall, enrollment is limited to 24 per class.

The university is working to meet the needs of retirees who live or spend a good deal of time here, as well as the financial community that services them.

“There is a huge need for financial planning and wealth management experience,” Sundaram says. “That’s exactly what we’re catering to.”

Read more articles by Cheryl Rogers.

Cheryl Rogers is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys writing about careers. An ebook author, she also writes Bible Camp Mystery series that shares her faith. She is publisher of New Christian Books Online Magazine and founder of the Mentor Me Career Network, a free online community, offering career consulting, coaching and career information. 
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