It was just another day on the third floor of the K-State Student Union at Powercat Financial for peer financial counselor Abby Pope. She was updating the online finance blog about marriage and finance, when one of her clients walked in, his arms full of paperwork. His face portrayed a sense of urgency and panic as he informed Pope he was going to have to move for his new job and he didn’t know if he could afford to do so. He had not signed a single paper yet, wanting to make sure he was doing the right thing.
Pope took him into a counselling room with a table facing a large TV monitor and a window looking out to the back of Anderson Hall. They went through all the employee benefits and broke down the terminology, line by line. She brought up a survey on the TV screen in the counselling room that showed the starting salaries of seniors in his major to discover that yes, this was actually a realistic offer. Relieved, he said that’s all he needed to hear and he accepted the job offer that day.
“It was really cool to be a part of that huge life decision for him,” Pope said. “Some of the most impactful experiences I’ve had are working with people who are transitioning into adulthood and knowing I shared the knowledge to change their behaviors in a more positive way.”
Powercat Financial is a program at Kansas State University where student advisors get to help their fellow student clients with financial issues ranging from learning to budget, building good credit, making student loan payment plans, and evaluating job offers and benefits for potential future jobs.
Financial advisor Morgan Flax came to K-State after spending three years in the Marine Corps reading finance books and teaching finance classes in his free time to young Marines. Flax discovered Powercat Financial his first semester at K-State. He found it exciting he could transfer his financial advising skills directly back to the student body while still in school and learning new information himself.
“Student loans are a different animal,” Flax said. “I had no clue about student loans before coming to K-State, and there are no classes about student loans. Powercat Financial taught me all I know about loans.”
To become an advisor at Powercat Financial, an entire semester of training is required before anyone is assigned clients. Advisors also take monthly training sessions to keep current on new information.
“Training became so helpful because so many of my clients have been in to discuss their loans, and that is a large part of student life,” Flax said. “Continuing education is important with financial advising because policy is always evolving.”
Flax found financial advising more appealing than other forms of finance due to his ability to directly see the impact he makes on people’s lives.
“It feels really good to help someone who comes in having financial stress or wanting to better themselves,” Flax said. “If you teach someone how to build wealth and financial stability, then they will be successful for years to come.”
Powercat Financial is a resource free to all enrolled students to use. Students may request free appointments and find useful financial tools via their website. The impact it makes on the clients and advisors has created a unique space of learning not found anywhere else on K-State’s campus.
“You can know all the financial information in the world, but if you can’t relate to a person and get them to trust you, you won't have that impact on people to change their behaviors,” Pope said. “It just drives home the fact that this is what I was meant to do — help other people.”