FHSU financial planning team earns silver at national challenge



HAYS, Kan. -- Fort Hays State University students traveled to Denver Oct. 8 to 12 and competed at the 2010 national Financial Planning Challenge and finished second place alongside universities from across the nation.

The Challenge is presented by the Academy of Financial Services, Ameriprise Financial (the founding corporate sponsor), the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. and the Financial Planning Association.

The competition entailed creating a financial plan for a family, including insurance, investments, retirement, education, loans and anything else that figures into a normal financial plan. The 2010 team consisted of Jennifer Ney, Great Bend senior, and Cameron Werth, Hays junior.

"It gives students valuable real-life experience," said Dr. Tom Johansen, professor of finance and economics. "We have separate classes for these topics in our curriculum, but the competition gives them the opportunity to bring it all together."

"When students finish in the top five of an elite competition like this, they have so many career doors and options open to them," said Dr. Mark Bannister, dean of the College of Business and Leadership. "They will find terrific jobs in an exciting career field."

The competition is split into three portions: an oral presentation, a written presentation and a game show section. The students received the proposal in late May and worked on the written plan over the summer and during the fall 2010 semester. The faculty advisor is unable to help in the writing.

"The written plan was very professional," said Johansen. "They did a great job and were rewarded for it."

The oral presentation involved presenting their plan to a board of professional financial planners. When the students arrived in Denver, they were given a twist to the scenario, so they were forced to modify their plan on the fly and present their changes in the oral presentation.

"The oral presentation is very intimidating because the plan you worked so hard on is scrutinized by professionals," said Johansen. "They had very little time to prepare it this year but still did very well. I couldn't have asked for more."

The team finished second in the game show portion after a close match with the last question deciding the team's standing.

FHSU is a nationally recognized contender in the financial planning arena. With placement in the top five for the last 9 years, FHSU teams have earned that recognition.

"You generally get the response of 'where is that?' when you mention FHSU," said Johansen. "Not so in the financial planning community. Of the 100 or so undergraduate programs in the United States, people know who we are."

Financial planning institutions around the nation aren't the only ones who can see that FHSU is a financial planning powerhouse.

"Many people in the area are unfamiliar with the competition and FHSU's reputation," said Werth. "All of the big-name schools at the competition know where FHSU is and that we have one of the most outstanding programs in the nation for financial planning."

"Even the new schools are aware of our reputation," he said. "Coupled with our win over both Kansas State teams, our second-place win is a phenomenal achievement."

"FHSU is proud to have one of the premier financial planning programs in America," said Bannister. "Dr. Johansen does a fantastic job of leading the financial planning program and preparing students to measure up to their peers nation wide. Their success reflects very well on the university."

For more information about the competition or the financial planning programs available at FHSU, contact the Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting at 785-628-5805 or visit its website at http://www.fhsu.edu/efa.

Photo Identification from left to right: Cameron Werth, Jennifer Ney and Tom Johansen

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