A new Wharton club has launched to teach students the "Common Cents" of personal finance.
Founded last semester, Common Cents aims to provide personal finance help to its members. This semester, the club started programming and plans to host a series of events to address topics like investment strategies, real estate investment and retirement planning.
Wharton MBA student Swati Patel, the president and founder of Common Cents, said she was inspired to start the club early last semester. Prior to coming to campus to begin her MBA program, she worked in financial services at companies including JP Morgan.
“By virtue of working at a bank for a number of years, along the way, I used to get questions asked a lot by my friends … about anything and everything related to their money," she said. "The interesting thing is, during welcome weekend and preterm here, I was part of several conversations that were similar in nature.”
Swati said that later on she realized students would benefit from an additional resource for personal finance advising. She said there is a "huge gap" between students' abilities to "think very academically about companies and their financial statements" and their abilities to think about their own wealth.
After the club was approved, Common Cents attracted members who also saw a need for additional personal finance advising.
“A lot of students at Wharton take student loans, and they budget for tuition, budget for travel … People want to learn specific things,” Wharton MBA student and club member Neal Sengupta said.
“We want to have a forum where we can bring in some specialists and provide support,” said Wharton MBA student and Common Cents board member Sorina Codrea.
Common Cents is currently only for graduate students at Wharton. Next year, the club will open up to other schools on campus as well as to undergraduate students, Patel said. However, undergraduate programs will have a different focus because graduate students typically have work experience and are more familiar with taxes.
Programming began this semester, and Common Cents has already hosted three events in the past month. The organization surveyed students about which personal finance topics they were most interested in learning more about, and the club plans to dedicate one month of programming to each of the top five topics.
For the first month, Common Cents hosted three different events covering general personal finance advice and investment strategy. The organization brought in three industry professionals who held Q&A sessions with club members. At the end of this semester, Common Cents will host the CEO of Investopedia for the conclusion of this semester’s programming.
Patel said she hopes students feel comfortable asking for financial advice at the club's events.
“Money is very sensitive," she said. "People don’t feel comfortable talking about it …The goal [of Common Cents] is to be that type of safe space.”