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Treasurer Lynn Fitch Stresses Financial Literacy at Boys State

STARKVILLE, Miss.–State Treasurer Lynn Fitch helped open another day of Boys State leadership training Wednesday [May 29] on the Mississippi State University campus.

A business administration and law school graduate, Fitch told the more than 385 rising high school seniors that her office is the state’s banking and chief financial department. The second woman and first Republican woman in the statewide elected position, the Holly Springs native said it is a high honor to serve her state and its people.

Fitch also said improving financial literacy is among the priorities she is focusing on during her first term in office.

“Wouldn’t it be great if everybody had to take a semester of personal finance,” she suggested. Graduates who have developed personal finance skills sufficient to handle money successfully are better prepared for the workforce and for life, she added.

“Personal finance is very important,” she said. “Right now, there are only four states that require a semester of personal finance. I think it’s time for us to be number five.”

Former executive director of the Mississippi State Personnel Board, the University of Mississippi alumna said one of her goals is “to be able to have companies to come (into the state) and say our workforce is ready for tomorrow.”

She also provided the potential future state leaders with facts and figures to illustrate how the state treasury department operates. In addition to having $18 billion in transactions go through the office each year, it also is responsible for seeing that the state annually pays about $350 million toward debts that total about $4 billion.

Additionally, her office is responsible for administering the state’s college savings programs and provisions of the Unclaimed Property Act. Since taking office, Fitch said she has established a call center for unclaimed property inquiries. Over time, her office has returned more than $10 million to state residents, she noted.

Fitch said her law degree and background as legal counsel for the Mississippi House Ways and Means Committee and the Treasurer’s Office helped prepare her for her current role.

Fitch, who was included in the Mississippi Business Journal’s 50 Leading Businesswomen and its inaugural Leadership in Law class, advised the Boys State members to begin thinking now about their next steps to accomplish long-term personal and career goals.

“You control your 24 hours; if you waste it, you lose it and you can’t get it back,” Fitch said. “We can give you input and we can give you advice, but, ultimately, you make your choice.”

Other pieces of advice in Fitch’s presentation included:

–Choices lead to character. “Character is hard to build, but easily torn down.”

–In addition to personal presentation, consideration of electronic presentations on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and other online mediums also is critical. “What if employers look at Facebook and their choice is between you and two or three other people?”

–While electronic communication is useful for keeping in touch with others, always take advantage of personal networking opportunities.

–All great leaders volunteer. “There is always someone in need that you can help. Great leaders are interested in other people.”

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