Story of Lana Sweeten-Shults
Photos by Ralph Freso
GCU News Agency
Grand Canyon University brings Wall Street to Phoenix’s west — and does it, as always, as a force for good.
It’s what a finance professor Alan Klibanoff sees as the role of the new Charles Schwab Foundation Finance Center, which opened Thursday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Nestled on the first floor of the Colangelo College of Business, the space will be central to the college’s financial planning and bring the world of finance to life for students.
In the 34-seat classroom, students will immerse themselves in a lab for the Securities Industry Essentials exam, the first exam potential securities professionals take to earn their license so they can launch their career in the industry.
“Recruiters said this summer, ‘I will hire all your SIE students who take or pass the course before graduation because it is the industry’s forerunner,'” said Klibanoff, who served as Senior Vice President for JP Morgan, Citibank. and Morgan Stanley before joining the faculty.
In the finance learning center, one of the hands-on Lopes Live Labs on campus, students will also take classes such as Introduction to Finance or Senior Portfolio Management. It’s ground zero for financial club meetings and guest speakers and where students can enjoy the information scrolling on downtown’s Bloomberg Terminal, a computer system packed with real-time financial data and news feeds that light up the room like a Christmas tree.
“We make sure they are Bloomberg certified, the Ph.D. of knowledge” in finance, said Klibanoff, who emphasized that “these students have the opportunity to basically sit on Wall Street in Phoenix, Arizona.”
It was in 2018 that Finance Chair Mark Jacobson began setting up the university’s first standalone funding program and contacted Charles Schwab.
“This entire partnership with Charles Schwab is the result of his leadership and vision,” said Colangelo College of Business Dean dr. Randy Gibb.
He added on Thursday’s opening how “Charles Schwab was on campus sponsoring content, teaching and supporting testing, and that then led to internships and jobs, which led to more education, testing and job opportunities, and the Charles Schwab brand grew on campus.”
In 2020, the Charles Schwab Foundation has pledged to fund GCU’s Certified Financial Planner program, which will begin in the fall of 2022.
And the foundation, in partnership with Schwab Advisor Services, awarded the college a multi-year grant to help raise awareness of the registered investment advisor profession. The grant funds the financial center and builds the college’s financial education offering. The college also acquired a subscription to a Bloomberg Terminal, provided university-wide access to the Wall Street Journal for more than 17,000 students, funds scholarships, and hired a finance professor. dr. Joy Clady.
“Our goal,” said Gibb, “is to take the GCU Finance Program to the next level. We want to graduate our ‘Colangelopes’ in the talent pipeline for the next generation of registered investment advisors.”
At the grand opening ceremony, GCU President Brian Mueller celebrated the business college faculty for their dedication to their students. The financial center is the latest example of this.
“The difference here is that our professors stand behind their students’ initiatives in a significant way,” Mueller says. “The culture here is to try and figure out who the students are and try to figure out what their goals are, what their dreams are, what their aspirations are, and then find out.”
But that dedication goes beyond educating students and helping them progress to their first job. It is also about supporting them in their faith.
“What really sets this student group apart is definitely their academic potential,” Mueller said. “But it is also their commitment to the Christian faith. … That’s why we now have 20 advisory boards and 500 companies represented on those advisory boards – because people desperately want access to our graduates.”
Mueller also stressed the importance of the two fundamental ideas that make America the best country in the world: the free market system and the Christian worldview.
“When you put those two things together, you unleash human potential in a way that no other economic system does,” he said.
Bernie Clark, Schwab Managing Director and Head of Advisor Services, sees that human potential too. He said he has spoken to many students who have told him that the world of finance is more than just a career path for them.
“They tell me they’re in because they’ve seen their parents struggle, and they want to help them think about the future. … They want to continue helping their fellow man, which is so important to keep doing.”
Clark added that he hopes the financial center can help tap into the talents of GCU’s diverse campus.
What’s unique about GCU’s Schwab Foundation Finance Center, he said, “is your student population — I think it’s the diversity that can be found here.”
The university’s student population is 28% Hispanic and 7% African American, and more than 40% of its students are students of color.
“I know the Schwab Foundation has a big goal in getting diversification in the financial planning (world),” Mueller said.
Treasurer of the State of Arizona Kimberly Yee, also one of the speakers at the event, shared the findings of the state’s Task Force on Financial Literacy. The members want to ensure that students understand money management from an early age, which is why a law was passed in 2019 requiring high schools in Arizona to provide financial education before graduation. The task force also found that not only young people should be educated in money management, but also seniors and those on government grants.
She spoke directly to students about internships offered by her office: “When you’re ready to go, I’ve got a job for you, I believe, because I want people of character, people who are first with God, and you are a servant. There is servant leadership written on the walls as you walk into this building.”
GCU students Adrianna Romero and David fonseca, who was interning with Charles Schwab this summer, said the financial center will be an incredible asset to students.
Romero said not every college offers access to high-quality financial tools like the Bloomberg Terminal.
She saw the recent GameStop stock market phenomenon and the rise of online investing apps that are popular with college students. She sees the Schwab Foundation Finance Center as yet another instrument in the financial arsenal of students.
“Of course they are not analysts, they are not traders, they do not have the training. This tool allows them to be educated before making a speculative decision such as a meme stock or foreign exchange or cryptocurrency,” she said.
“Everything that’s happening now is hype in itself,” Fonseca added of what happened to GameStop. The new campus financial center goes beyond the hype. “If we dive deep into it, you can understand the fundamentals of any investment. So that’s the benefit of this” – to increase the analytical ability of each student.
In addition to fueling the pipeline of financial talent in Arizona, Gibb sees the financial center and partnership with Schwab as aligned with the university’s core values.
GCU trains students and helps them get a job, but that’s not all. “We want to emphasize how business positively impacts,” Gibb said. “…We all live our faith here by serving others.”
GCU senior writer Lana Sweeten-Shults can be reached at: [email protected] or at 602-639-7901.
Fox 10: GCU opens new financial center
GCU today: Schwab Foundation Learning Center Comes to GCU
press release GCU: Colangelo College of Business establishes Charles Schwab Foundation Learning Center
AZ BigMedia: GCU establishes Charles Schwab Foundation Learning Center