Professor and alumnus Michael McGuinness has been teaching business courses (and mentoring students) at Saint Anselm since 2002.
Part of this Q&A originally appeared in Focus on Faculty in Portraits magazine.
What brought you to the Hilltop as a student?
I grew up in Lynn, Mass., my father was an alum—he went here back when it was one building. I knew I wanted a small school, where I could find my niche, and Saint Anselm had a great reputation. I was very quiet but was lucky to make a great group of friends and I still see that happening today to students. Saint A’s really is a special place.
When did you return to the Hilltop to teach, and why?
I worked for Converse Inc. for 16 years, finishing as the director of international finance and operations. I then did contract work doing international operational audits where I would travel overseas for two weeks and be home for one week—but it was tough on my family. Then in 2002, I started getting calls from friends that Saint Anselm was looking for an economics and business professor, and I knew it was meant to be.
What is your favorite class to teach?
While I love my accounting courses, believe it or not, it’s personal finance for non-business students. It’s such a relevant class, and if a student pays attention in it, they’ll hopefully make good financial decisions through their lifetime. It’s practical, and I get great questions from the students. What’s most rewarding for me is knowing they’re going to use this information in their lifetime.
Did this give you the idea for your book?
Yes. The school was kind enough to grant me a sabbatical, and I took representative questions and answers from this class as the basis for the exchanges in the book, A Young Adult’s Guide to Personal Finance (Mascot Books, 2018).
What do students say is their biggest takeaway from your personal finance class?
Students will come back and tell me how useful the information has been to them (and some have actually become good financial planners). I’ve met some of their parents, and I think they like the course even more than the students.
Have you seen a change in students and their financial savviness over the years?
With all due respect to our current students, I don’t believe they are as financially well versed initially as prior generations, and it is absolutely critical for them to be so. Many companies are eliminating pension plans and, in my opinion, local governments and states are going to have to, at some point, put their new employees on a 401k or 403b plan. These students are going to be more responsible for their own retirement and financial future than any other generation has previously been.
If you could give one piece of financial advice to young people, what would it be?
Invest in yourself first. New graduates need to establish a budget once they leave here, and make sure they’re putting money away each pay period.
In your opinion, what sets Saint Anselm economics and business students apart from students at other schools?
Former faculty Tom Moses and David St. Cyr really laid the foundation for the accounting department. Professor EmeritusJohn Romps HD ’18 was just exceptional; I had him in class, and then found myself teaching alongside him. Professor Emeritus Arthur Kenison ’63 and Professor EmeritaJeanne Kenison ’62 (Mount Saint Mary) loved the school. With the efforts of our prior faculty, continued by our current faculty, our students, across all majors, succeed in many different areas. They are logical, articulate, and know how to go out and solve problems. I am very humbled by former students coming back to visit when I see how well they have done.