The Rural Financial Planning Project is the brainchild of
Shepherdstown businessman Rob Hoxton.
After graduating from North
Carolina State University,
Hoxton followed a dream to work in New York City.
In 1990, he moved back to his hometown of Shepherdstown and
opened his own financial planning business.
Now, through the Rural Financial Planning Project, Hoxton
hopes to inspire Shepherd University
students to return to their rural roots like he did.
“If you look at the annual average savings rate for the
country the average annual amount saved by a family in the US is I think $159
per year,” Hoxton said. “A huge percentage, 54 percent of American families
depend on Social Security exclusively in retirement and those numbers are even
more dramatic in rural areas.”
The Rural Financial Planning Project worked with Shepherd
Administration Department to create a concentration in financial planning.
The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards certified
the program in April and in the fall the project will begin offering students
scholarship money, internships, mentoring from professionals and potential
employment after graduation.
“It’s about exposure. It’s about professional development
for the students and it’s about resume building,” Hoxton said.
Stephanie Brooks, senior business major with a concentration
in financial planning, is also working on a minor in accounting. She
appreciates the opportunities the Rural Financial Planning Project offers.
“Just going out and meeting all the financial planners,
seeing what’s involved with financial planning and then how you can help people
invest their money so they can have a good life after retirement,” Brooks said.
The chairman of the Business Administration Department,
Gordon DeMeritt, believes the need for financial planning services will grow as
more baby boomers retire in the coming years.
DeMeritt says the involvement of about 15 professional
financial planner mentors in the project will benefit students by giving them a
real world opportunity.
“It’s not a 'here is your degree now go find something'
situation,” DeMeritt said. “The other side is also to have a community of
professionals involved with the university in this way really adds some cache
to the university and that’s important so it works at several levels.”
The Rural Financial Planning Project has raised about $60,000
in scholarship money for students in the financial planning concentration.
Hoxton says the organization will begin awarding some of that money in the
Plans are underway to start a student chapter of the
Financial Planning Association as well.