Dr. HanNa Lim, PhD is an assistant professor at Kansas State University researching and teaching personal finance. Her research focus includes college students’ financial wellness and the effects of family relationships on financial behavior. At the 2018 AFCPE Symposium, Dr. Lim and her colleague Frank Magwegwe won the Outstanding Symposium Research Paper Award for their paper “Theory of Planned Behavior & Retirement Preparation”. Learn more about Dr. Lim’s journey into personal finance and her award-winning paper. 

AFCPE: What inspired you to enter this field?

Dr. Lim: While I was in college, I double majored in consumer science and business. I had a hard time deciding my career path because both areas were equally interesting to me. But I was more attracted to consumer science because I wanted to help people in their everyday lives.

During my master’s program, my research interests were consumer problems and consumer policy and then during my doctoral program, I became more focused on financial aspects of consumers, such as college students’ financial wellness and household financial decision making. After I earned the degree, I worked for the retirement research center at the life insurance company in South Korea, where I did research and teaching to improve retirement lives of households. I really enjoyed my work at the center but I missed academia so I joined to Kansas State University in 2017.

I decided my career path with the belief that I can contribute to others’ lives and this is still the reason that I am, and will be, working in this field.

AFCPE: At this year’s Symposium, you and your colleague Frank Magwegwe received the Outstanding Symposium Research Paper award. Congratulations! What did it mean to you to receive this award?

Dr. Lim:  It was my first time attending the AFCPE Symposium and I felt really honored to receive the award at the symposium. This award is very meaningful to both of us because our research paper is the combined output from our courses at Kansas State University and our experience from practice. After Frank took a theories and statistical methods courses, he developed and worked on this research in the research cluster. Our experience from practice (Frank is a founder and managing director of Thrive Financial Wellness, which is a provider of workplace financial education program in South Africa and I also used to develop and teach workplace financial education at the retirement research center) was also incorporated into the research regarding important implications on workplace financial education.

It is really rewarding to see students apply learnings from the classroom and practical experience to their research and receive an award from a high-standard organization.

AFCPE: Amazing! For those who didn’t attend Symposium, please provide a summary of the research paper and its purpose.

Dr. Lim: Our paper “Theory of Planned Behavior and Retirement Preparation” focuses on psychological factors to retirement preparation behavior and tries to find implications on how to get individuals motivated to prepare for retirement. Retirement saving calculation was used to measure the intention for retirement preparation and individual retirement account ownership was used to measure the retirement preparation behavior. We found that a favorable attitude toward retirement preparation (ex. having longer planning horizon, setting long-term goals), feeling retirement preparation as socially desirable (ex. parents taught managing finance, workplace offered financial education), perceiving retirement preparation easier (ex. higher subjective financial knowledge, higher subjective financial capability) are positively related with having calculated retirement savings need and eventually having individual retirement accounts. This research provides implications on the importance of workplace financial education and the right use of online retirement savings calculators, and also draws attentions to the self-employed.

AFCPE: As a researcher, how important is it to bridge the gap between research and practice?

Dr. Lim: When I studied at the graduated school, I was always impressed by other students with industry experience. Not only did their research provide very practical implications but also their experience drove their research. Considering the practical aspects of our field, as a researcher, I try to bring more perspective from practice such as getting a research idea from practice, using practice-oriented theories, consulting with practitioners over the results, and providing implications to the practice.

AFCPE: What’s next for you? What has you most excited?

Dr. Lim: My first time attending the AFCPE Symposium was really great so I want to be actively involved with AFCPE in the future. Also, I have multiple on-going research projects with various topics such as debt aversion, young adults’ financial independence, and financial integration in couples, etc. I want to have more opportunities to present and discuss my findings from these research projects.

Dr. Lim Answers the Friday 5:

  1. My Why: I feel lucky to do work that I enjoy and, at the same time, help improve others’ lives. 
  2. My Favorite Quote: “Stand on the shoulders of giants”
    This is the quote that I encounter every time I search for others’ research from Google Scholar. I had dreamed to make a great step forward with a brilliant research idea that no one ever thought about, but I soon realized that the reality is not like that. I am very grateful to other scholars who built up knowledge in our field and I want to contribute a “small” step on it. 
  3. My Hero: My parents. I think it is really amazing how they raised three children with all the love and provided college education to all three of us (even graduate school for me!) even though they did not have enough financial resources and did not receive any financial education! 
  4. My Favorite Personal Finance Resource: Not specifically for personal finance, but I enjoy visiting Dan Ariely’s website to get some insights from Behavioral Economics. Also, I often revisit Mankwi’s “Microeconomics”, Bryant and Zick’s “The Economic Organization of the Household”, and Becker’s “A Treatise on the Family” books when I am stuck on research. 
  5. My Best Advice:
  • For someone starting the journey to financial well-being: The first step is always the hardest. Since you are starting it, you’ve done the hardest thing. After you start whatever journey you take, make it your everyday routine and let it become your habit. 
  • For a new professional entering the field: In my case, learning from other professionals’ works was really helpful. I think as a new professional, you can get insights by reading others’ works and attending others’ presentations at professional conferences.

Follow Dr. Lim: at:

Also visit Kansas State University Institute of Personal Financial Planning at:

January 11, 2019

Han Na Lim, AFCPE® Member

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