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CVM Invests in Financial Counseling for Students

Andrew Rotz believes that everyone should have the help of their own professional team — a doctor, an attorney, a financial adviser — as they go through life’s biggest decisions.

Rotz is now a member of every NC State College of Veterinary Medicine students’ team.

A Certified Financial Planner with extensive experience as a financial adviser with Fidelity Investments, Rotz joined the CVM in May as the college’s director of personal finance and financial literacy. Now, students are able to get critical financial advice on demand, whether through visiting his office on campus or through online financial toolkits. Graduates may also receive financial planning services as they launch their professional lives.

“The people on your team can help you to make life wonderful, but more importantly, they can help you to not make terrible mistakes,” said Rotz. “I pride myself on being a resource for the CVM community and being able to spread as many healthy habits as possible.”

Rotz’s services reflect the gamut of the unique and vast financial needs of students, from preparing budgets and managing debt to mastering the intricacies of insurance and student loan repayments. Rotz, who also serves as an officer in the United States Navy Reserve, provides one-on-one sessions, called individual financial wellness appointments, and can lead small group discussions for those sharing questions or interest in any specific topic.

“Everyone’s priorities are different,” said Rotz. “It’s my job to help them arrive at their desired financial destination.”

What kind of impact do you hope to have on the well-being of students?

I want to make sure that everyone who leaves the CVM has the basic tools to make them successful in their lives. The CVM curriculum prepares them professionally very well. My aim is to build out a robust financial knowledge base within the school to prepare them personally for what awaits them post-CVM.

Amy Snyder has done a fantastic job in her CVM business classes to help address some of these challenging areas, and we can make an even more significant impact together. Finances are a major cause of disruption in many lives, but they can be very enriching with the right amount of knowledge and preparation.

What are some of the financial considerations students need to keep in mind?

While certain costs are fixed, like tuition and fees, students have a lot of control over the rest of their spending. Things to think about include their living situation and if they have roommates. Do they owe money on their car or can they get around by trading it in for something a bit more economical? What types of things do they spend money on from month-to-month and what can they do without for now?

Having a spending plan and an awareness of where their money goes is the foundation for any financial goal they will have for the rest of their lives. They can not only build those positive habits by embracing this knowledge now.

Talking about money is not easy for most people. What approach do you take when discussing finances?

I cannot force anyone to discuss their personal finances with me, but I can make myself as accessible and approachable as possible to help them feel comfortable sharing. In my previous roles in the financial industry, I was very used to working with professionals of anywhere from zero to 50 years of professional experience. Each individual client is different in how much they know, how they treat money, how their family talked about money and what they care about being able to do with their money.

One thing that is certainly consistent is that everyone worries about money for one reason or another, and it’s often very helpful to have someone you can share these concerns and may have some ideas to help. I pride myself on making sometimes very uncomfortable conversations a bit more comfortable by throwing in personal anecdotes, some humor or just changing up the setting by grabbing coffee instead of talking in an office. Most important, students who come to see me can rely on discretion with our conversation.

What about the CVM’s personal financial services program do you believe sets it apart?

First and foremost, the fact that the CVM has seen fit to hire a dedicated, in-house Certified Financial Planner speaks to a level of commitment that the school has to their student body’s financial well-being. Right now, I am the only CFP on the staff of a school of veterinary medicine in the country, although there are a few that are in the process of hiring. A CFP has a fiduciary obligation to do what’s in the best interest of their clients, which is an important consideration when seeking help with finances.

The CVM has given me several different opportunities to get in front of the community: orientation, class lectures, clinical conference rotations, the North Carolina Veterinary Conference, the American Veterinary Medical Association Economic Summit and, most importantly, an office right in the building. The last is critical to making sure I am as convenient and accessible as possible, The tools at my disposal, like the financial planning software I use, really serve to enhance these face-to-face interactions as well.

What is it like work with someone who goes from being extremely worried about their finances to feeling confident about their future?

It’s been really quite rewarding. I’ve made people cry … I’m talking about a good cry when someone realizes they can help their kid go to college, they can retire early to spend more time with a sick spouse or family member or they feel significantly less stress because we talked through a plan to deal with large amounts of debt. Seeing someone’s eyes light up when we make a breakthrough in the math or their understanding of a concept is why I love helping people.

For more information on personal financial services offered at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine, go here.

~Jordan Bartel/NC State Veterinary Medicine