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Wharton MBA graduate Kenneth Beck spent Tuesday evening recalling the practical joke that played a role in creating the Ivy League’s first student credit union.

Beck, co-founder of Penn’s Student Federal Credit Union, spoke to an audience of about 120 Penn students at “Money Talks” on Tuesday alongside current CEO of SFCU and Wharton senior Mihir Jain .

As he spoke, Beck encouraged students to learn from his humorous pastimes.

“There are ways of making things happen,” he said. “You have to understand how the system works and work within the system.”

As a Wharton MBA, Beck established a friendly relationship with Penn’s president at the time, Sheldon Hackney, after discovering that Penn had as many total employees as Wharton students.

Beck penned a humorous letter to the president asking for each Wharton student to get a personal Penn assistant, drawing attention to the school’s large administration.

Hackney enjoyed the letter enough to set up a personal meeting with Beck, and they became companions before long. Later, Beck presented his concept for a student-run group that would provide a banking service and function as a “hands-on teaching tool” for its volunteers.

Not only did Beck get permission, but he also scored a $100,000 interest-free loan to establish Penn’s student credit union. SFCU has been running ever since.

Tuesday’s talk, organized by a Management 100 team, aimed to promote SFCU as a campus campus organization and to educate students about personal finance.

Jain, SFCU’s CEO, recommended that students create budgets based on their income and set aside a certain percentage as an emergency fund. He encouraged students to use their credit cards to build their credit histories, but to be wary of their budgets.

“The hardest thing to do is spend within your means,” Jain said.

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