By UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS
For the second year in a row, Fort Hays State University’s financial planning team placed third overall in the national Financial Planning Challenge Competition.
The team, comprised of finance majors, Ethan Lang, senior, Hays; Danielle Riemann, senior, Beloit; and Kaden Wren, junior, Scott City; competed in a three-phase competition. FHSU’s team placed first in phase 1, a written competition. Phase 2 involved an oral presentation, and phase 3, was a game-show-style financial planning knowledge contest.
“To get first place for the written portion of the plan is so impressive,” said Dr. Christina Glenn, assistant professor of finance and financial planning team coach. “They have done an excellent job holding their own against really big programs that have hundreds of students and a lot more money than our program has.”
Seven other universities competed in the finals. Those schools were Utah Valley University (placing first overall), Kansas State University (placing second), Texas A&M University, Ohio State University, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, Western Kentucky University, and the University of Arizona.
This was Lang’s third time in the competition, Wren’s second, and Riemann’s first.
“I really learned so much from the competition in general, applying things I learned from my classes,” Riemann said. “It all comes together for that final plan that we were able to put together. It was really cool to see our classroom work put into it and to have it succeed.”
Wren agreed that “learning as you’re doing” was one of the rewarding aspects of the competition, as was the opportunity to apply theoretical concepts to practical scenarios.
“It was a really good learning experience,” he said. “Real world – hands-on.”
Lang said that his three years of experience on the team had shown him ways to improve on past plans. Learning to communicate effectively is likely the most important piece of the competition and of a successful venture into the field of financial planning.
“Our job isn’t just to know the complex, but it’s to make the complex simple for people,” Lang said. “And elegantly simple. If you can’t explain something in a simple way to a client, there is a lack of trust.”
The team has found that they will have additional opportunities to apply their expertise to more real-world situations. Riemann recently accepted a position as a financial planning associate to begin after her graduation in May. Lang, who completed his licensing exams during the summer, has started his own financial planning business. His business will focus on financial planning for younger people.
“Typically, advisors are doing investing, which younger people might not be ready for yet,” Lang said. “That basic building block of planning is super important for young people, and getting them to start five years sooner makes a huge difference in the long run.”
Wren plans to move forward with competing on the financial planning team next year and perhaps complete an internship during the summer of 2023.
“I’m proud of these kids. Not every student is willing to spend at least 45-50 hours outside of their classroom work to participate in this rigorous challenge,” Glenn said. “I can’t say enough good things about them.”