Headshot of Tom WarschauerDr. Tom Warschauer

Finance

Wisconsin native, Tom Warschauer, enrolled at the University of Colorado-Boulder immediately after high school, though he wasn’t sure quite what path he wanted to pursue.  At the time, college wasn’t the right fit for Warschauer and he left school after a year.  With trouble brewing in Vietnam, he decided to enlist in the U.S. Navy.

During his assignment on one of the Navy’s Polaris submarines, Warschauer worked with an officer who had a keen interest in personal finance. The officer took great pains to help enlisted men understand the importance of saving and investing the money from their paychecks and Warschauer was intrigued. “He saw too many young sailors – some of them with their own money for the first time in their lives – go out and blow it,” recalled Warschauer. The importance of financial literacy and financial planning was set in his mind.

Tom Warschauer in military uniformAfter leaving the Navy in 1968, Warschauer returned to college with a renewed interest and with a focus on personal finance. He re-enrolled at the University of Colorado Boulder where he earned his bachelor’s degree, his master’s degree and his Ph.D. in 1976. Later he became a Certified Financial Planner ™ the year after it was first awarded. He worked as the assistant treasurer of an embryonic financial planning firm, then as president of its real estate subsidiary, and later as a registered principal in its brokerage firm, IMI Securities. With this practical experience, he became a registered investment advisor.

After spending this time in the profession, he came to San Diego State University in 1977 as a finance professor and in 1982, he founded one of the first financial planning degree programs in the country. The program which became highly regarded in professional and academic circles has been consistently ranked among the best degree programs of its type by in U.S. by Financial Planning Magazine. 

In another first, Warschauer served as the original associate dean for SDSU’s business school under Dean Allen Bailey and later as the graduate program director – positions that are still part of the Fowler College of Business’ administration to this day.

When he wasn’t teaching and researching at SDSU, Warschauer found the time to establish the Academy of Financial Services and served as their first president. He also serves as associate editor of both the Financial Services Review and Financial Planning Review.

Tom Warschauer in military uniform sittingWith so many firsts under his belt, it’s no surprise that Warschauer has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors both at SDSU and throughout the financial planning industry. As the first academic editor of the Journal of the Institute of Certified Financial Planners, its publisher, the Financial Planning Association, chose to honor Warschauer and the publication’s founder, Henry Montgomery, with Montgomery-Warschauer Award which recognizes financial planning’s outstanding research contributor each year.  Additionally, his pioneering efforts at SDSU earned him the Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Faculty Contributor for the Fowler College of Business in 2000, which is one of the highest honors awarded to SDSU faculty members.

In 2016, one of Warschauer’s former students, Richard Fogg, chose to recognize him by spearheading the funding drive for the Thomas Warschauer Endowed Professor of Financial Planning in his honor. Fogg, the president of Pacific Coast Financial Planning Group earned his bachelor’s degree in financial planning in 2003, several years after leaving the U.S. Navy.

It is only fitting that he would be honored in this manner by a former student since it’s his work with his students that gives Warschauer some of his greatest job satisfaction. “A former student, who had just recently graduated, told me that when an interviewer asked him questions to test his professional knowledge, the questions were virtually identical to those I asked on my final exam a week earlier,” he said. “The interviewer was so impressed that he called my student back and offered him a job at a multi-billion dollar pension fund. This feedback was incredibly encouraging to me because it affirmed that what I’m teaching is meaningful and practical.”

In spite of having officially retired as an SDSU professor in 2006, Warschauer continues to teach one or two classes a semester as a retired annuitant. “I keep trying to actually retire,” he explained. “But I genuinely love what I do and as long as I am able to make a meaningful contribution to educating our future personal financial professionals, I’ll probably keep at it!”