Academic Research Colloquium for Financial Planning and Related Disciplines

Sponsored By

Merrill Lynch

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Julie Agnew | Dr. J. Michael Collins | Dr. Chris Geczy | Dr. John Grable, CFP® | Dr. Hal E. Hershfield

Dr. Julie Agnew
Class of 2018 Associate Professor of Finance and Economics
College of William and Mary’s Mason School of Business

Presentation: How Psychology Can Affect Investors’ Financial Decisions
Drawing from her own work and others, Dr. Agnew discussed the behavioral biases exhibited by investors that are most relevant to the financial planning profession. Among other topics, she highlighted the importance of communication techniques, trust and financial literacy to the client/planner relationship. She concluded by helping to set a vision for this research field by presenting many promising directions and opportunities for future academic work.

Dr. Agnew is the Class of 2018 Associate Professor of Finance and Economics at the College of William and Mary’s Mason School of Business. She is a member of the Pension Research Council Advisory Board of the Wharton School, a TIAA-CREF Institute Fellow, and a Research Associate for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

Her research and consulting activities focus on the interplay between financial literacy and behavioral finance with a specific focus on financial decisions made by individuals in their retirement plans. She frequently presents her research at conferences around the world and has testified as an invited expert witness to the Senate’s Committee on Health Education, Labor and Pensions. Funded by several nationally competitive research grants, her research has been accepted for publication in top journals, including the American Economic Review, Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis and Management Science.

Prior to pursuing her doctorate, she worked as an Analyst in investment banking for Salomon Brothers in New York City and as an Equity Research Associate for Vector Securities International in Chicago. A 1991-1992 Fulbright Scholar to Singapore, she co-authored a book examining strategic business opportunities in Asia. Dr. Agnew earned a B.A. degree in Economics (High Honors, Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and a minor in Mathematics from the College of William and Mary. She received a Ph.D. in Finance from Boston College in 2001 and was a Senior Visiting Fellow at UNSW in Sydney, Australia in 2012.

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Dr. J. Michael Collins
Associate Professor of Public Affairs and Human Ecology
Faculty Director of the Center for Financial Security
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Presentation: Using Field Experiments to Evaluate the Impact of Financial Planning Interventions
While many fields routinely use randomized controlled experiments, household finance is only beginning to use these approaches. While experiments are the "gold standard" for understanding how an approach causes changes in consumer financial behavior, there are also important limitations to experimental methods. The insights from carefully designed studies which mix disciplines and methods may have the most potential to influence research, policy and practice. Dr. Collins focused on lessons learned from recent studies, gaps in the current research field and suggest opportunities for future studies based on his work and the other studies in the field.

Dr. Collins is Associate Professor of Public Affairs and Human Ecology, as well as the Faculty Director of the Center for Financial Security at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Collins studies consumer decision-making in the financial marketplace, including the role of public policy in influencing credit, savings and investment choices.

His work includes the study of financial capability with a focus on low-income families. He directed the Social Security Administration Financial Literacy Research Consortium site at Wisconsin (2009-2012). He is involved in studies of family well-being, financial coaching, and emergency savings.

Dr. Collins brings nearly a decade of applied experience to his research. He founded PolicyLab Consulting Group, a research consulting firm working with national foundations and government agencies, and co-founded MortgageKeeper Referral Services, an online database for mortgage servicers and counselors. He also worked for NeighborWorks America (Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation) and the Millennial Housing Commission.

He holds a Ph.D. in policy analysis from Cornell University, a master’s degree in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a B.S. from Miami University (OH).

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Dr. Chris Geczy
Adjunct Professor of Finance
Academic Director, Wharton Wealth Management Initiative
Academic Director, Jacobs Levy Equity Management Center for Quantitative Financial Research
Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

Presentation: How Clients’ Changing Lives and Moods Affect Risk Tolerance
A growing body of academic research and practical experience shows that investor risk tolerance can change over time. Life experience (landmark events and/or psychological development), investment performance, growing wisdom or declining cognitive faculties, and even an investor’s mood of the moment can significantly affect expressed risk preferences. Dr. Geczy highlights the most important work in this new subfield and explains how investment professionals can use insights to better serve institutional and retail clients.

Dr. Chris Geczy has been on the Finance Department faculty at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania since 1997. He is Academic Director of the Jacobs Levy Equity Management Center for Quantitative Financial Research. He is also Academic Director of the Wharton Wealth Management Initiative at Wharton Executive Education. He has a B.A. in economics from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in finance and econometrics from the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago (now the Booth School).

Before his studies at Chicago, Dr. Geczy worked for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Washington, DC in its Division of Research and Statistics. He regularly teaches investment management and co-created the first full course on hedge funds at The Wharton School, a course on Impact Investing, and a large number of executive education courses. He has taught AIMR/CFA Institute-accredited professional Risk Management courses through the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business. The Jacobs Levy Center is an interdisciplinary research hub at Wharton focusing on innovative knowledge creation in quantitative finance. It supports faculty research projects and dissertation fellowships, and it awards the Wharton-Jacobs Levy Prize for Quantitative Financial Innovation. Chris became Academic Director in March 2014.

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Dr. John Grable, CFP®
Athletic Association Endowed Professor of Family and Consumer Sciences
University of Georgia

Presentation: Frontiers of Financial Planning Research and their Expansion beyond the Core Areas of Financial Planning
Today, researchers working in the domain of financial planning are actively engaged in exploring diverse topics that only a few years ago would seem alien to those practicing financial planning: cash flow management, taxation, insurance, investing, retirement, and estate and special needs planning. Dr. Grable’s presentation focused on some of the most important ideas that are helping shape the way financial planning practitioners interact with their clients, with special emphasis on the ways researchers can add to the existing body of knowledge for financial planning through the integration of concepts from other fields.

Dr. John Grable, CFP® teaches and conducts research in the undergraduate and graduate CFP Board Registered Programs at the University of Georgia, where he holds an Athletic Association Endowed Professorship. He is active in promoting the link between research and financial planning practice and is best known for his work on financial risk-tolerance assessment, behavioral financial planning, and evidence-based financial planning clinical studies.

Dr. Grable served as the founding editor for the Journal of Personal Finance and co-founding editor of the Journal of Financial Therapy, has published over 100 refereed papers, co-authored two financial planning textbooks, and co-edited a financial planning and counseling scales book, and has been the recipient of several research and publication awards and grants. He currently serves on the Board of the Financial Therapy Association and writes a quarterly column for the Journal of Financial Service Professionals. He also serves as the Director of the Financial Planning Performance Lab (

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Dr. Hal E. Hershfield
Assistant Professor of Marketing
Anderson School of Management, University of California-Los Angeles

Presentation: Considering the Future Self
Professor Hershfield discussed one important reason why many investors fail to act in ways that are optimal for the long run: the tenuous connection that people feel between their present and future selves. Hershfield focused on the origins of this relationship, how it can affect financial decision-making, and the ways that advisors can help investors bridge the gap between the self of today and the distant self of tomorrow.

Dr. Hal E. Hershfield is Assistant Professor of Marketing at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. Prior to UCLA, Professor Hershfield taught at NYU’s Stern School of Business, and was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His research focuses on judgment and decision-making and social psychology, with a particular interest in how thinking about time can strongly impact decision-making and emotional experience.

Professor Hershfield received his Ph.D. from Stanford University, and his B.A. from Tufts University. He was recently named a Rising Star by the Association for Psychological Science, and has received funding from the Templeton Foundation’s New Paths to Purpose Grant Program, and the Russell Sage Foundation Small Grant in Behavioral Economics. Professor Hershfield has consulted with Allianz, Prudential, the Principal Financial Group, Gibraltar Ventures, and American Greetings, and sits on the academic advisory boards of Morningstar and Abaris Financial.

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