Learning about the Stock Market and Investments

There are a few Continuing Studies instructors who have taught since the 1970s or 1980s, and every single one is a star. They have staying power because, in a nutshell, they teach effectively. Bill Frisco has taught courses on the stock market and investments for Continuing Studies since the 1980s. Literally thousands of Houstonians have learned from his expertise, and after each session we read wonderful evaluations from his students.

Bill Frisco

Bill is now a senior vice president–wealth advisor at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and was recently ranked as one of the top investment advisors in the country by Barron’s. His class this spring,
Stock Market and Investment Portfolios: The Fundamentals, meets on five Tuesdays, March 20-April 17, 2012, 6:15-8:15 p.m. We spoke to Bill about his class:

Tell us about your class and what knowledge you strive to impart to your students.
In our ever-changing economic and political environment, individuals are more anxious today than ever about world events and their financial future. The governments of developed countries have staggering amounts of debt, economies that are stagnant and unemployment levels significantly above the long term averages. The so-called emerging countries now control the vast majority of the world’s reserves, have much lower debt burdens and are growing significantly faster than the developed countries. It is obvious that today’s world is truly a different world.

To survive, it is important for investors to understand the changing world dynamics and adjust their investment portfolios accordingly. My seminar will examine the Euro crisis, and the likelihood it will tip the world into a global recession. It will address the rise of the emerging markets, and the unsustainable budget deficits and debt burdens in the USA and other developed countries.

It is critical to understand that in today’s environment every asset category has some degree of risk including cash, bonds, stocks, real estate, commodities and precious metals. This class will examine the risk inherent in each asset category and study various investments strategies to help control risk and volatility in an investment portfolio. For those individuals concerned about their income portfolios this session will review strategies to build income portfolios with enhanced yields and protection from inflation. In addition from a tax stand point, 2012 is a critical year because many important tax laws will expire. Discussions will focus on the major tax law changes that will occur and the impact on your investment portfolios.

Why do you enjoy teaching and what is your philosophy of teaching?
I have always had a strong commitment to financial education. My mother who was a highly regarded educator and involved in many aspects of education impressed upon me the importance of lifelong learning. As a result my Rice financial lectures are dedicated to educating the public in financial matters. I am convinced that an individual who is properly educated in important financial issues will make better choices concerning their financial future.

My philosophy in teaching is based on the fact that each of us learns new concepts in different ways. To me, learning a new concept is like traveling through an intersection. There are many different ways to get through the intersection. It is the teacher’s responsibility to be flexible in explaining new ideas, and not force the student to learn in one particular way.

Although the issues are complex, my challenge is to simplify them so that anyone can appreciate their importance. I believe that if you cannot explain something that a six grader can grasp, you really do not know the material. I have a six grader at home and most of the material has been tested prior to each class. As a result beginning investors will be comfortable and learn a great deal of useful information.

I have been a pilot for many years, and flown many different types of planes from sea planes to gliders. Flying is very similar to investing. In flying as in investing, you will make mistakes. The question is how quickly will you correct them. My first flight instructor, who now flies jets for Delta, told me that a mistake is not an error unless you fail to correct it. Down here on the ground, it is easy to procrastinate. Up there you are trained to correct mistakes immediately before they become disasters. In investing as in flying, it is always better to make a larger number of smaller corrections than to wait and make one big correction when sometimes it may be too late. It is important that new investors understand that they will make mistakes. I tell the class that I have made every mistake in the book, and as a result I know where the potholes are and how to avoid them.

UPDATE: This course is offered each semester. For more information and to register, go to our online catalog.

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