When New York Jets linebacker Brandon Copeland isn’t playing on the field, he’s lecturing as a professor for his class “Inequity and Empowerment: Urban Financial Literacy” at the University of Pennsylvania. Last Tuesday, Feb. 11, Copeland visited the Alumni and Visitors Center to teach business students what he talks about in that class: the knowledge and know-how necessary to be financially stable and successful.
The event, Cope’ing With Success, was hosted by the School of Business at UCR and the A. Gary Anderson School of Management. Assistant Professor of Finance Greg Richey said that the event was for “some inspiration, inspiration for financial literacy.” Jean Helwege, another professor of finance, started BUS 001, Personal Finance, at UCR in 2017 “because I wanted students to be thinking very hard about the amount of money that they are putting up to come to this school,” noting the average debt of $27,000 per graduated student in the U.S. She encouraged her students to attend the talk for those reasons.
“A lot of the things we talk about in Personal Finance can’t be applied immediately, like the investing portions,” Richey pointed out, “but it’s good to have students know it’s there when they enter the real world. Everyone’s gonna want to retire, everyone’s gonna have bills to pay, they’ll have to budget and watch their credit: business major, finance, everything in between, this is important to everybody.”
While scheduled for 4 p.m., Copeland arrived around 4:30 p.m. due to traffic but jumped straight into the presentation as soon as he got himself set up; the event began as he asked for people to pair up, and for Person A to tell B what financial goals they had for themselves. Responses varied between things like stock knowledge or tax filing. Person B had to then tell A what their biggest failure was; the crowd groaned upon hearing someone had lost thousands of dollars in the stock market.
This was meant to be a confidence builder; “as you eliminate self-doubt … you get more and more confident in yourself, and can withstand the minor pitfalls, which at the moment seem major,” Copeland explained, referring to his lateness as an example, which in the moment felt like worse of an issue to him than it would be looking back later on.
Copeland also spoke about his career as a football player, his experiences with his family and everything outside of his career, with all of its ups and downs and then got into the nitty-gritty of the topic of financial advice at hand: “Be comfortable and be willing to put in the research if you really want to take control of your financial life,” he stated.
He pointed out that some people don’t do the right things to end up where they want to be. “There is no one-stop shop from a generational standpoint,” Copeland explained. He also mentioned the “financial gurus” and their tips, both of which he has disdain for because they are “selling what the media wants them to sell.” Copeland asked that the audience think through the advice given to them. “When you’re listening to (financial) info you have to listen to it, to digest it and make a plan for yourself,” he said, keeping in mind that every situation needs a different response, making an example of Batman’s utility belt.
“The most important thing you all can do from a financial journey standpoint is figure your why,” Copeland later declared. “It sounds super cliche, but why are you doing this?” Copeland’s current why is financial freedom; “the last goals I had were empty goals, but what did I accomplish?” he asked rhetorically. “Some days I want to do what I want when I want; other days I want to wake up and do nothing, but having that, to me, is freedom. It’s not about jewelry, it’s not about chains — for some people it is, and there’s nothing wrong with that — but you have to understand what you’re working for, understand what makes you happy.” The floor opened up to questions, and the event ended around 5:40 p.m.
Akshay Shetty, a second-year business administration major, came out “because I heard it was a talk about financial literacy; I didn’t actually know too much about Mr. Copeland before I came here, but I definitely learned a lot of information I’ll use moving forward.” Chiree Rice-Coplin, another business administration major, came out less for the financial aspects of knowledge and more to figure out the answers to the questions, “Why am I doing this, why am I in college?”
Copeland’s brother Chad Copeland was also at the event, who was Copeland’s business advisor and the one who booked the lecture. “From Brandon’s side, we’re looking to make present that he speaks (on financial literacy) and that he has the capability to do so outside of Penn. Synergies with programs at UCR and Brandon’s goals just kind of worked things out, and Brandon is ultimately set out to make financial literacy cool.”
Helwege added on that the Hylander Financial Group, meeting every Monday at 7 p.m. in the HUB 367, would be a good place to get started with investment decisions.