The Power of Investing: Financial Literacy and the Miracle of Compound Interest

Albert Einstein is famously credited with saying, “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it; he who doesn’t, pays it.” To continue that thought, the miracle of compounding can be more clearly described as the seemingly small, incremental positive changes that make an outsized impact over a long duration. This can be seen quite clearly through investment returns, but the laws of compounding apply more broadly. People and companies have a moral obligation to consider the long-term impact of their decisions. As investors, we need to exercise our critical thinking skills to understand how our portfolio decisions can be optimized for both financial return and global impact.

In order to invest for change, we must first understand the basics of financial literacy and the role it plays in accumulating assets. By crafting a lifelong financial plan, students will learn about the fundamentals of finance and the tools of wealth creation. Topics include investing inside and outside retirement accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, and tax considerations. The goal is to ensure your financial security, so you can select the career of your choice, help those in need, and support important social causes.

This seminar is sponsored by and in partnership with the Notre Dame Institute for Global Investing.

Academic Directors

Carl Ackermann

Carl Ackermann

Carl Ackermann teaches financial management and personal finance to University of Notre Dame undergraduates. He crusades against excessive fees in the investment industry, redirecting them to fight poverty and despair.  

Ackermann has received over a dozen major awards for his teaching and service. Nationwide, he is a favorite professor according to Bloomberg Businessweek and Poets & Quants. Despite teaching a sophomore class, he is a multiple-time recipient of the Senior Class Fellow Award, for the member of the Notre Dame community who has made the most positive and lasting impression on the senior class. He has also received the University's Grenville Clark Award, for the faculty member or administrator whose voluntary activities have advanced the causes of peace and human rights.

Ackermann is active in several University service projects and mentoring programs, and participates in athletic recruiting. He holds an A.B. from Amherst College, and a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Kristen Collett-Schmitt

Kristen Collett-Schmitt

Kristen Collett-Schmitt teaches microeconomics in the undergraduate studies, Executive Master of Nonprofit Administration (EMNA), Master of Nonprofit Administration, Master of Science in Management and Executive MBA programs in the Mendoza College of Business. Her current research focuses on economics education and literacy, encouraging students to develop an interest for economics through the use of real-world applications. Professor Collett-Schmitt's honors and distinctions include the Joe and Gina Prochaska Family Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher Award (2015), the Department of Finance James Dincolo Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher Award (2016), the EMNA Outstanding Teacher Award (2013, 2015 - 2017, and 2019 - 2020), and the Rev. Edmund P. Joyce, C.S.C Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (2014). In 2017, she was named to Michiana's Class of Forty under 40 and a Top 40 Undergraduate Business Professor by Poets & Quants.

In 2019, Professor Collett-Schmitt was appointed as the Associate Dean for Specialized Master's Programs in the Mendoza College of Business. Her portfolio includes the Master of Science in Management, Master of Science in Accountancy, Master of Science in Business Analytics, and Master of Nonprofit Administration programs. Prior to serving as an associate dean, she oversaw accreditation for the College as Director of Special Projects.

Kristen Collett-Schmitt serves as the faculty advisor for MoneyThink, a student organization that seeks to promote financial literacy by placing college mentors in South Bend high schools to teach personal finance lessons, and is devoted to the social cause of providing necessities for hospitalized premature infants through her family’s non-profit organization, “Wishes for Preemies.”