First Free Finance E-Textbook to Guide College Students and Amateur Finance Enthusiasts Alike
Touro Professor with Wide-Ranging Finance Expertise Makes Difficult Topics Accessible by Getting into His Students’ Heads
Professor Kenneth Bigel has done just about everything in the field of finance—taught college-level courses for 25 years and worked as a fixed income analyst at Bankers Trust (now part of Deutsche Bank), a strategic planner at Ford Motor Company, an asset manager at Prudential Securities and served on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) board of arbitrators. He has a private financial planning practice and even served as a visiting scholar in various universities across the U.S., Europe and China.
Now he’s sharing his wealth of knowledge in a new role—as author of a series of online finance textbooks available to students everywhere. “It’s the first free finance textbook and I’m hoping it is used widely,” Bigel says.
As the movement to reduce the cost of college textbooks grows stronger and educational platforms expand online, Bigel felt the time was right to make coursework easily accessible to students and those curious about the basics of finance.
Bigel is launching his first e-textbook, Introduction to Financial Analysis, on touroscholar.touro.edu. It covers three broad areas—how to read a financial statement, time value of money, and introduction to valuation of stocks and bonds.
What Students Want and Need to Know
“This ‘open textbook’ is succinct and direct. Having taught this course for over two decades, I know what students want to learn and understand,” said Bigel. “I’ve written this book with that in mind. I’ve cataloged years' worth of questions and the text incorporates responses to what students ask in the classroom.”
“In my opinion, the best way to teach is to recognize the tools or lack of skills that students bring to a course like this,” continued Bigel. “Finance requires a certain mentality that students don’t have when they first come to an intro class. In order to get someone to think like you, you first have to think like them. I try to get into their heads, see where the gaps are and then educate them to think like finance professionals and economists. My textbook interweaves finance and student mentality.”
What exactly is the finance mentality? It’s an eminently practical approach, according to Bigel, although at the same time, a well-schooled finance professional can think quickly and thoroughly in the abstract.
The textbook is also entertaining, using quotes from Teddy Roosevelt, Hillel the Talmudic Sage, Bruce Lee, Albert Einstein and others whose thematically relevant insights will inspire and encourage budding finance professionals to distinguish between right and wrong.
Bigel hopes the textbook will prepare students and other users for more advanced work in any subtopic of finance. In his mind, the most critical entry-level skills for finance students and professionals are to be able to engage capably in elementary algebra, translate abstract thoughts into mathematical expressions and also be worldly. He says finance professionals need to know what’s going on in the news, how the stock market is doing and be able to analyze global politics. Critical and abstract thinking skills are essential.
Bigel, who began his career at Touro when Lander College for Men opened in 2000, taught finance at NYU previously. While he isn’t being paid to produce this textbook, he says his true reward will be “when students really start using it.”
He is sure that day will come and is already developing two more free textbooks in the series—one on corporate finance and another on fixed income mathematics.