Business instructor eager to share financial skills

They may be well-schooled in the three Rs, but the big C is another matter. A poor understanding of credit often lands young people in trouble when they start dealing with student loans, credit cards, lines of credit and other debt obligations, said Patrick O’Meara, who teaches at Red Deer College’s Donald School of Business.

RDC business administration and commerce instructor Patrick O’Meara with the draft of a textbook he has written.

RDC business administration and commerce instructor Patrick O’Meara with the draft of a textbook he has written.

They may be well-schooled in the three Rs, but the big C is another matter.

A poor understanding of credit often lands young people in trouble when they start dealing with student loans, credit cards, lines of credit and other debt obligations, said Patrick O’Meara, who teaches at Red Deer College’s Donald School of Business. That can include unmanageable levels of debt when they graduate, or a bad credit rating that creates barriers to car or home ownership.

O’Meara hopes to increase students’ knowledge about responsible borrowing — and lending — through a textbook he’s currently writing.

Titled Fundamentals of Consumer Credit in Canada, it will cover such topics as interest rates, credit bureau reports, the five Cs of credit (character, capacity, capital, collateral and conditions — with common sense a sixth C O’Meara likes to use), and credit products like credit cards, short-term loans, payday loans, term loans, car leases, and mortgages, including reverse mortgages.

The text should be ready by fall, he said, and will be used in the college’s consumer credit course. O’Meara is hopeful it will find its way into classrooms in other colleges, universities and high schools, and perhaps benefit non-students as well.

“Anybody could certainly pick it up and I’m sure get some value out of it.”

That’s because knowledge is power when it comes to credit.

“Debt can be a good thing; debt can be a bad thing,” said O’Meara. “You have to find a way to properly integrate it into your financial life.”

Fundamentals of Consumer Credit in Canada will be published through MuchLearning, which produces hard copy and online materials — including some available on a subscription basis.

“Traditional textbooks can be very expensive for students,” he said, adding that MuchLearning provides alternatives to traditional textbooks that many young people prefer.

“My real goal is to be able to develop material so they can hook in with their iPods and be able to download it.”

O’Meara has taught at Red Deer College for 31/2 years and is co-ordinator of its financial services diploma program. He also has plenty of experience in the banking sector, including stints at TD Canada Trust, Royal Bank and CIBC.

It was while earning his master’s degree from Niagara University in New York state that O’Meara received a nudge toward his current career.

The director of the university’s MBA program, whom O’Meara worked for, suggested he consider the priesthood or teaching. O’Meara opted for the latter. Fundamentals of Consumer Credit in Canada will be his first textbook.

“I’ve learned that it’s not as easy as just sitting down at a computer and typing.”

O’Meara already had a comprehensive set of course materials on the topic. And he’s been quick to invite feedback from others, including his students.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com