May 12, 2021
Dr. Hossein Salehi gains his global perspective in finance from his experience living in Iran, Italy, and the U.S. Dr. Salehi is passionate about teaching and working with students at California Lutheran University, “I like helping people as a whole, that’s why I actually chose financial planning because I really wanted to help people make better financial decisions and teach the younger generations. I really like helping the students pick the right career for the rest of their lives that isn’t just financial but fits their personality,” he said.
Finding His Path to Financial Planning
Dr. Salehi teaches financial planning courses both to undergraduate and graduate students. His biggest inspiration to find his passion for financial planning came from his father when he lived in Iran with his family.
As an undergraduate, he followed the footsteps of his father and earned a degree in computer engineering in Iran. After university, he worked as a program developer for different computer applications in finance and accounting much like a software developer for games, he explained. However, after seven years in the industry, he decided it was time to change his career to finance which is more interested in. He earned his master’s in finance in Iran before deciding to move across the world to dive deeper into his education. As he is most interested in financial markets and investing, Dr. Salehi decided to move to the United States. “My father helped me a lot with the concept of studying abroad at an American university,” he said.
While waiting for his American university admission, Salehi attended university in Italy to study. His decision to move to Europe was fueled by wanting to learn more about financial markets. In Iran, the financial diversity and market are limited, he explained, “I knew that I needed to go somewhere else like Europe.” He spent around nine months in Italy to learn more about theories and financial models. It was also during this time he began teaching and found a passion for it.
In 2011, Salehi moved to the U.S. to study a Ph.D. in Economics as “economics is the base and the foundation of finance,” he said. After finding interest in microeconomics and finances in households, Salehi realized that he enjoyed financial planning the most. Nearly finished with his Ph.D. in Economics, Salehi said it was a hard decision whether he should pursue another Ph.D. in his area of interest in financial planning. After deliberation, he decided to turn his economic Ph.D. into a master’s of economics and pursue a financial planning Ph.D. instead at Texas Tech University, which is one of the top financial planning programs in the country. “I had to start from the beginning and start learning from scratch as the laws are totally different from other countries. It was worth it because I’m a certified financial planner now,” he said.
The Role of Being a Professor
Over the years, Dr. Salehi has had multiple teachers and mentors to help guide him where he is today. Now he spends his time teaching and researching at California Lutheran University. His most liked areas of interest in financial planning are investment and retirement planning. Dr. Salehi doesn’t only teach those inside the classroom, but he thinks it is important to help others. “I like to help people understand what’s happening around them and it doesn’t only apply to my students. It could be a friend or a family member that needs help to understand the concept. I like teaching and I like educating people with my knowledge and experience of what I learned over these years from three different education systems, Iran, Italy, and the US,” he said.
In January 2020, Dr. Salehi took financial planning undergraduate minor student Zach Bullard to attend the National LINC 2020, January 29-31, 2020 at Hytall Regency Orlando, FL. At the conference, students had some training and teaching sessions to learn about the industry. It was an opportunity for financial planning students to meet thousands of advisors and talk to them about internships and jobs. A conference like this gave student Bullard a number of opportunities and he said he was extremely grateful for Dr. Salehi for providing it and going with him.
Another undergraduate financial planning minor student, Jared Martin, said his favorite part of California Lutheran University is the professors and experience offered. In particular, Dr. Salehi is one of his greatest influences within the financial planning department.
Qualities of a Good Professor
“Being able to teach in the most understandable and digestible way is the best. If you know a topic or a concept well enough you should be able to teach it in very simple words,” he said. Personally, he enjoys this method for learning and tries to follow the same structure for his students to learn from. Other qualities that he believes are important are being able to balance connecting and understanding with the students but also being firm at the same time.
Learning from a textbook versus learning from a real-life scenario are two very different concepts. Dr. Salehi believes real-life scenarios help the students understand the different concepts and technologies in class, therefore he likes to incorporate them when teaching. “I really like it because it’s very applicable and students can see what they’re learning and apply their knowledge in real-time by using these applications,” he said. Dr. Salehi believes it helps provide realistic outcomes for the student when they take the theories outside of the classroom and it is his favorite part of teaching.
Qualities of a Good Student
Dr. Salehi believes that students shouldn’t rely just on course material or class notes, but rather be looking and learning from other sources. “As a student, try to learn as much as possible from different resources,” Dr. Salehi said. “This is really important for students in finance because finances are changing every day, you have something new that can happen that can influence the market,” he said. He encourages students to use different resources and know what is reliable versus misinformation.
Finishing his second year at California Lutheran University has been a challenge as most of his teaching has been online during the pandemic. “Teaching in Zoom is pretty challenging not just because I don’t know how to engage the students but because it has challenges of not being able to see the students and not recording the classes with the student’s faces,” he said. However, Dr. Salehi tries his best by using other types of material and engaging students with videos, and by sharing his screen to look at stocks.
Other Interests Outside of Finance
Before the pandemic, Dr. Salehi enjoyed traveling particularly around Europe and learning about the history of the different countries. He also enjoys being active by cycling and swimming as well as reading non-financial planning books. “One of the reasons I chose California is because it’s a really nice state to go outside and do activities,” he said. He is hoping to start surfing soon.
About Dr. Hossein Salehi:
Dr. Hossein Salehi is an assistant professor in Financial Planning at California Lutheran University. He has a doctorate in personal financial planning and is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®). He also has an M.Sc. in Personal Financial Planning from Texas Tech University, an M.A. in Economics from Texas Tech University, and an M.Sc. in Financial Management from Tehran University.
About the Author:
Rosie Baker is an undergraduate student at California Lutheran University, graduating in May 2021. She is studying Communication with an emphasis in PR and Advertising and has a minor in Creative Writing. In July 2020, she published her first book, Mirrors & Windows: Unlocking a New Framework to Envision Your Success, with New Degree Press.