Just in time for RRSP season, we chatted with personal financial planning instructor Michael Kolodnicki.
Q: What courses do you teach?
A: I teach Basics of Investing, and Stocks, Bonds and Your Portfolio in the Personal Financial Planning area.
Q: How long have you been teaching at Mount Royal?
A: I have taught evening classes at MRU for nine years. My day job is Investment Portfolio Advisor with TD Wealth Management & Investment Advice where I manage a $200 million portfolio.
Q: What is your teaching philosophy?
A: At work, I coach clients to make sure that they don’t get hurt and that I explain things very plainly. The financial industry can get caught up in acronyms and buzzwords and people speaking very fast. Teaching these classes helps me to slow it down, so I can help both my students and my clients really understand. I joke with my colleagues that I get to enlighten and entertain at the end of a long work day.
Q: Are the courses that you teach directed at the consumer rather than the financial professional?
A: Yes. Mount Royal delivers the Basics of Investing course on behalf of the Alberta Securities Commission. The Stocks, Bonds and Your Portfolio course is also aimed at people who want to take charge of their personal finances.
Q: What changes have you seen during the time that you have been teaching?
A: Students are more informed. They’re coming to class with laptops and personal devices and they’re checking on some of the facts that I’m quoting to them. We’ve got a big range of participants, from 25 to 80 years old. Some are experts – lawyers, doctors – who are very good at what they do but are brand new to the field of finance. They’re tired of not understanding how to manage their money.
Q: What questions do your students most frequently ask?
A: They like to know what the current events are, whether the headlines and political talk are impacting their savings. So we integrate a disciplined curriculum with real life. I try to go from the terminology and evolve it to, “this is how we apply it in the real world.”
Q: Do people ever come in thinking that there will be one or two stocks they can buy that will make them rich?
A: There’s always one that’s looking for tips. But a little bit of information is not helpful. We cover off the fundamentals that people need to be aware of so they don’t get hurt and can help their savings grow.
Q: Why is MRU a good place to come and learn about personal finance?
A: This is a phenomenal institution with a great reputation. There are similar ones in Calgary but there’s a culture and a vibe at Mount Royal that make it a great post-secondary institution, and for the continuing education component, it’s fantastic.
– photo by Krystal Hurt