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Preston Cherry helps students, community members make sense of finances

UWGB Assistant Professor Preston Cherry was recently named one of Wisconsinís 51 Most Influential Black Leaders for 2023

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January 24, 2024

GREEN BAY — Money is one of those topics that most people don’t want to talk about, but according to Preston Cherry, assistant professor of finance at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB), it is something we should all be talking more about.

“The goal should be having a healthy money mindset where you let your life lead your money and not your money lead your life,” he said. “If we are not talking about money, you can’t get to that place.”

Cherry said he wears multiple hats, but they all focus on empowering people to achieve financial wellness and the freedom that cultivates life wholeness.

Some of those hats, in addition to assistant professor of finance, include:

Founder and principal of Concurrent Financial Planning, a virtual financial planning firm; head of the personal financial planning program at UWGBDirector of the university’s Charles Schwab Center for Personal Financial Planning
These roles and his dedication to sharing his financial knowledge with his students and the community recently got Cherry recognized as one of Wisconsin’s 51 most Influential Black Leaders of 2023 by Madison365.

Though honored and humbled by the recognition, Cherry called himself a champion of the human condition first, before looking at ethnicity or race.

His accolades continue — including being named to Investopedia’s 100 Top Financial Advisors list and recognized as one of’ Ten to Watch in 2023.

“With financial planning, I have always believed if you open up your heart, you open up your mind and you can learn more about your aspirations,” Cherry, who also hosts the Life Money Balance podcast, said. “That’s something I teach to the students. You don’t want money to lead everything you’re doing.”

Cherry has published research in top journals, including Personality and Individual Differences and the Journal of Personal Finance.

His current research focuses on personality traits and financial uncertainty risks.

Guiding next generation of finance professionals
At UWGB, Cherry led the creation of the university’s personal financial planning minor, which he said began admitting students in the fall of 2021.

The program is approved by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. — which Cherry said means graduates receive their Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification.

The program, he said, provides three of the essential four “E’s” that students need to be successful financial planners — ethics, education and exam — with the fourth “E” being experience, which he said students receive from internships with local companies.

“Each semester, we’ve graduated about five students with the minor and so far, all of our graduates are employed,” Cherry said. “That’s impressive for any program.”

Preston Cherry

Cherry said students enrolled in the program gain real-life experience working one-on-one with other students in the Charles Schwab Center for Personal Financial Planning on their financial concerns — whether it is creating a budget or coming up with a plan to pay off their school loans. The center, he said, also holds finance-related workshops for students.

“The personal financial planning minor and the center work very collaboratively with each other,” he said.

Everyone, Cherry said, has their own mindset around money and when teaching students, he reminds them that when meeting with others to discuss financial matters “it is a no-judgment zone about money.”

“People’s relationship with money comes from what happened in the past and what’s going on in the present,” he said.

Beyond working with students in the classroom, Cherry shares his knowledge with the community through the Charles Schwab Center for Personal Financial Planning.

The center, he said, reaches out to the community by providing Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) to those making less than $60,000 annually or holding financial wellness workshops.

Students minoring in financial planning, Cherry said, help lead the programs as they put their education into action.

The workshops cover fundamental subjects that cut across all socio-economic statuses, Cherry said.

Some program topics include cash management, risk management, intro to investing and banking financials.

Cherry said the center has worked with several community organizations as well, including the Boys and Girls Club of Green Bay, the Green Bay Area School District and the Greater Green Bay YMCA, just to name a few.

UWGB students, he said, earn valuable real-life experience by sharing their knowledge and skills with other students and community members.

“It’s a great career development tool,” he said. “We also hold workshops on topics like funding college and managing loan payments once you graduate. We also talk about getting off on the right financial foot, such as (how not to take) a lot of early hits to your credit report. If you start out with a poor credit score, that could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars through the years since you will pay higher interest rates.”

“A class on personal finance pays for itself,” he said. “It helps you make better-informed decisions going forward.”

A bit more about Cherry
Cherry earned his bachelor’s degree in finance from Prairie View A&M University and a master’s degree and a doctorate in personal financial planning from Texas Tech University.

He has more than 15 years of financial services and academic experience, including financial planning and investment management.

Cherry said Concurrent Financial Planning is not your ordinary financial planning business — and guides clients through a transformational personal financial planning process that aligns their money with their life’s purpose.

“I want to help clients create a life-money partnership that helps them pleasantly strive toward and achieve their operations,” he said.

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