- Shashank Kolhe

Term : November, 2015
Department : Business and Management
Program : Financial Planning

A senior business analyst and experienced IT professional, Shashank Kolhe was interested in expanding his understanding of personal financial planning and its association with a family’s or individual’s well-being. He discovered UCSC Extension’s Personal Financial Planning certificate program, which  covered behavioral approaches to finances, in addition to financial fundamentals. Overall, this helped him adopt a holistic approach to financial planning; as he puts it, “number crunching as well as human relationships.” He completed the certificate in fall 2015.

 What attracted you to UCSC Extension’s program?

From my standpoint, Personal Financial Planning is an exceptional program set up by UCSC Extension. Its location and program design allows students to pace themselves, which makes it a unique offering for someone working full-time like myself. It allowed me to set my pace and choose my course load accordingly. The certificate can be completed in about 12-18 months, which in my personal and professional opinion is both a finite commitment and a good, solid investment.

What interested you in personal financial planning?

I used to work in IT and marketing, but I purposefully rotated to a role supporting finance. I did this because I was interested in increasing my financial literacy. A lot of us can say we are literate based on the plethora of information we can get on the web, but there are many nuances and intricacies involved in financial planning that we are not aware of. There is no one website that covers it all. Many of us can handle different corporate functions efficiently, but when it comes to our own finances, we find ourselves handicapped, something that I think should change and am very passionate about.

As a first-generation American, I wasn’t introduced to the language of personal finance until my kids were four or five years old. I realized that due to the fast-paced nature of business and work, I did not have enough time to understand and manage my finances properly. By the time most of us are ready, either our peak earnings (or savings) years are behind us or we are hit with some financial setbacks. I experienced this multiple times in my personal life, first in 2000, during the dot.com bubble, and again in 2008, during the global financial meltdown. A great hardship fell upon hard-working Americans and their lack of so-called financial literacy further compounded the problem. This hardship bestowed by the global financial meltdown served as a wake-up call for me and most of my cohort. We approached this crisis as an opportunity; we vowed to change the approach towards personal finances and decided to change our mindset. We dropped the workers’ mindset of living “paycheck to paycheck” and “save and dream.” To some extent we passed on this mindset to our kids too.

 What courses stood out to you?

It is tough to single out a particular course because each and every instructor was an experienced industry veteran, diligent and passionate about his/her respective field and financial planning as a whole. If I have to select particular courses, then personally I would credit the “Mathematics for Personal Financial Planning” and “Financial Planning Practicum” classes. The instructors for both were 20-year veterans in the industry and were very approachable. A large majority of people are fearful of finance as it involves math, but the way the instructor conducted the class, she made it very inviting and helped us take those baby steps to enter into the vast field of financial planning.

As for the practicum course, I have only a single comment to make: Simply brilliant. It was the most difficult course, because the instructor had to make sure we could pick any topic from our books and apply it to a real-life situation. I learned that success in personal financial planning is 60 to 80 percent dependent on relationships and human psychology, while the other 20 to 40 percent is actually about the financial planning process itself. The instructor assigned us very complex cases, which was a dress rehearsal for the real life of a financial planner. As our final assignment, we had to write a self-reflection paper regarding our own financial identity and in particular, what the word “finance” meant to us. This course ensured my readiness to enter the field of financial planning—to connect with people and be able to plan for their situations.

What are the other perks to the PFP program?

The partnership with the Financial Planning Association and the CFP® Board accreditation of the program makes it a unique offering in the Silicon Valley. UCSC Extension often hosts FPA mixers which are very rewarding; these are an incredible forum to network with professionals and keep abreast of industry trends. We also have a PFP Student Forum, where we as students come up with ideas for brown bags and prioritize topics based on the needs of the group. When I joined the student forum I felt compelled to reach out to new students and invite them to our study group. As a cohort, we have been able to create and sustain relationships that, hopefully, ten or twelve years from now, we can still rely on each other for references.

Visit our Personal Financial Planning program page to learn more about Extension’s unique offerings. Browse upcoming Personal Financial Planning courses.
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