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Jim Simos tends to downplay his considerable experience. “I like to tell people I have a diversified business background,” he says. “But what that really means is that I have had four or five unrelated careers.” Regardless of how you count, Simos’ background adds up to a big plus for students in the School’s Certified Financial Planning preparatory certificate program. Of the first 28 students who completed the certificate program, which Simos teaches with Sheffield Richey and Gary Roseman, 28 passed the CFP® exam on their first try. The exam has a 63 percent pass rate. “If you take .63 to the 28th power,” Simos notes, demonstrating the math skills that make him effective in the classroom, “the odds of that happening are 2 in a million.”
Simos’ career has indeed been varied. He went to Lafayette College, where he studied economics with classmate Joe Maddon who went on to become the Chicago Cubs Manager. He earned an MBA from Rutgers and graduate certificates in international business from Georgetown University and the University of Hawaii. But rather than go abroad, he sold commercial real estate for Caldwell Banker (now CBRE) in the Mid-Atlantic region for more than a decade and later worked for the General Services Administration in Washington as a contractor. He passed the CFP exam in 1998 on his first try and was a financial planner as well.
But as Simos pursued other activities, he let his certification lapse. As a result, he first became involved in the School’s certificate program as a student. “When I mentioned at the introductory session that I had already passed the exam once and been a professional financial planner, the faculty signed me on as a teaching assistant,” he says. “When I passed the exam, they asked me to join the program as an instructor.”
For Simos, teaching financial planning doubles his ability to make a difference. Both his parents were public school teachers, and he knows from his own experience that a good teacher can have a profound impact on someone’s life. And by teaching financial planning, he is giving his students the opportunity to similarly impact their clients’ lives. “If you can do something as simple as show someone a better way to save for retirement, you are really performing a valuable service,” he says.