K-State instructor hopes finance class has ‘paid dividends’ for students

Photo by George Walker | The Collegian Scott Hendrix, finance professor, explains how to work through a problem in class on 6/13/14. Scott has recieved several awards for his excellence in teaching.

Though the world of finance is large and complex, Scott Hendrix, professor of finance, has prepared countless students for success in investing, budgeting and comprehending the nature of money management.

As one of the K-State Twitter-sphere’s favorite classes, a Principles of Finance exam is sure to have the campus buzzing with nerves of more than 400 students at a time.

“It seems like Finance 450 exams can turn Hale Library into an academic flashmob,” said Hendrix, who has clearly embraced the course’s reputation over the years. He can only hope all that collective studying paid dividends, so to speak.

Though the course’s rigor is no secret, neither is Hendrix’s commitment to helping students learn the material and understand its broader context.

“I’ve found that students rise to the level of your expectations,” Hendrix said. “They respond to the challenge, but they’ll be appreciative of it.”

It is this mindset that inspires students to work hard in the course and be proud of the outcome.

In the process of learning the material, students may also pick up a few lessons for their personal financial well-being. Throughout the course, Hendrix said he stresses the importance of starting early and taking on acceptable levels of risk when it comes to investing.

“Over the long term, the stock market offers a good risk-return tradeoff,” Hendrix said. “People in their 20s need to be comfortable investing.”

Hendrix said that the skills that his class, Principles of Finance, gives students a look into the many ways wealth can be created over time and instills basic decision-making instincts.

In addition to relevant and real-life examples of content, Hendrix places a heavy value on developing critical thinking skills necessary for success in the marketplace as well as life. His exams require students to expand on previous concepts and maneuver the financial variables to meet the demands of new situations. True mastery of the content involves both qualitative and quantitative reasoning skills and, in his words, students are required to “come up with an answer given a wide variety of information.”

His focus on excellence in teaching has drawn recognition from campus and the finance industry alike. Hendrix has been a past recipient of the Commerce Bank Teaching Award, the Ralph Reitz Outstanding Teaching Award and the Kansas State Bank Teaching Excellence Award. These are in addition to holding the Paul Edgerley Outstanding Instructor Fellowship and, currently, the Faculty Fellowship for Gates Capital Management. He attributes many of these accolades to the focus K-State and its alumni in the industry place on quality teaching.

Outside of Principles of Finance, Hendrix teaches courses in the College of Business’ Investment Management Certificate and advises several student groups, the main one being the Student Finance Association. Though they may be best known for their yearly lunches with Warren Buffett, the Student Finance Association manages their own fixed income fund valued at around $55,000, travels to multiple destinations per year and hosts several on-campus events that connects students with business leaders and provides exposure to the field. In his time advising the group, Hendrix has also won the Excellence in Advising Award from the College of Business Administration.

The first year the group paid a visit to Buffett, Hendrix hosted an application process to decide which students would have the honor of representing K-State at the lunch meeting. What resulted was a group of what he called “our very best students” who he said, “had the respectful confidence to kind of joke around with him – he just had a blast.” K-State has been on the invite list ever since.

The relationships he has helped foster are great for the university and not a bad perk for Hendrix, either.

“The K-State brand name is just so strong that I can’t think of any other profession where I could have had some of the opportunities that I’ve had,” he said.

From talking stocks with Warren Buffett and other business leaders to ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange, Hendrix has advanced both personally and professionally throughout his time here.

“Being here at Kansas State and following the passion I have for finance have come together,” he said. “It’s worked out really well.”