University of Pittsburgh Finance Seminar

Senior Luke Fabisak with Mr.Natali

Senior Luke Fabisak with Mr.Natali

Jake Bruder, Photo Editor

“With personal finance comes responsibility and the ability to develop personal strategies to form your own personal interests. ” These are the wise words of Assistant Professor of Business Administration at the University of Pittsburgh Mr. Jay Sukits. He also commented, “To achieve your financial goals, it is crucial to take the correct steps early”.

On Friday, April 10th, several of Mr. Palano’s Personal Finance students attended a seminar hosted by the University of Pittsburgh titled “Money 101: Our future is in Our Hands”. Considering April is known as Financial Literacy Month, the timing of this seminar was quite fitting. Among Mr. Sukits were George Emanuele, an Investment Advisor & VP with PNC Wealth Management; David Zawadski, Vice President of Wealth Management with BNY Mellon; and lastly Gene Natali, Jr., author of The Missing Seminar, a financial literacy novel. To begin the event, Jay Sukits touched upon student debt, retirement programs, and different investment options. Every day he deals with students concerned about their future finances, and the one thing he always tells them is to begin saving, investing, etc. as early as possible. He truly could not stress this enough; start early! After his opening remarks, Mr. Sutkis passed the microphone to George Emanuele and the student interaction began.

Along with the professional presence, one student from each of the following high schools/universities was selected as panelists for the event. Students from Butler County Community College, Carnegie Mellon University, Central Catholic High School, Duquesne University, North Hills High School, Penn State Behrend, the University of Pittsburgh, and Westminster College were all represented. Speaking on behalf of North Hills was senior Luke Fabisak, a student and enthusiast of Mr. Palano’s classes. Luke, along with all the other students participating, agreed that a class in financial literacy in needs to be a mandatory course in high school. Students stressed the need for an enthusiastic and experienced teacher on the subject whose passion consists of financial literacy. When asked how they’d go about teaching the course, panelists noted that they would connect the course with real-life experiences, finding out the student’s spending habits and developing those choices into beneficiary decisions. Examples presented included spending unnecessary money on food, clothes, and other materialistic items that hurt their wallet instead of benefiting from it. If the students realize that changes within their spending habits can actually go towards more important things, they’d consider that a success. “Find the difference between a need and a want,” the Westminster student said.

Mr. David Zawadski then asked what I found as the most intriguing question of the entire event. Directed at the panelists, he asked, “If you were a financial advisor, responsible for many families interests, what would your strategy be to put your client in the best financial position possible?” All eyes immediately turned to the panelist representing Carnegie Mellon, as he had been anxious to speak since the beginning of the seminar. “I would mainly focus on budgeting, saving receipts, balancing their checkbooks, and recommending my clients to do their own taxes to see where their own money is going, the cliché stuff. But what I find different than the norm is that if I were a financial advisor, I’d push investment agencies to share their information and experiences to help my clients, and especially their children. It’s overly important that children and young adults can understand your context so they begin learning as soon as possible. With this, it’s a win-win.”

When asked who his biggest role model was in planning for the financial future, North Hills’ own Luke Fabisak answered with his dad. “My dad has always been there for me to talk about anything, especially the future. He has been realistic, yet understands my aspirations to succeed in whatever I end up doing in my life.” Luke then furthered his answer, awarding Mr. Palano some credit himself. “In Mr. Palano’s class, he truly gave us an idea of what life is really like out there. For a project, he gave us a $50k budget to live on for a year. It was our responsibility to manage our money with expenses such groceries, bills, goods etc. This is what we need to learn in high school, events that happen in the REAL world”. As the seminar came to a close, Mr. Gene Natali spoke his closing remarks. “If I can ask one favor from you students, do not let these messages and answers presented today stay in this room only. Let people know of the information you learned from today and make an impact on someone’s financial aspect of their life”.

After the seminar ended, I was fortunate enough to speak with Mr. Natali himself. I asked for him to speak a few words regarding his inspiration for writing his book. His answer was quite plain and simple. He said, “I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by great friends and peers all my life. All of them have good jobs, with good pays, but something always seemed to puzzle me. They were not educated on financial literacy; they had no experience in regards to handling the money they were making. I wrote this book simply to educate those in need to create a better future for themselves”.

Mr. Palano was very pleased with the seminar and expressed the importance of students gaining financial literacy.  3“Financial literacy is a topic that I am passionate about.  I think that every student needs to learn how to manage money today more than ever.  It was great to be a part of the panel discussion and Luke did a terrific job.  We all walked away from the event with some valuable information.  Students today need to be able to understand the repercussions of their financial decisions.  There is over one trillion dollars in student loan debt in the U.S. right now.  How are you going to pay for college? How do loans and credit cards work?  Why should you have a Roth IRA?  How do taxes affect us?  All of these questions are vital to your future wealth and success and things are not getting any easier.   Taking a Personal Finance course is a great step and a critical investment in your future!”