UOW Student Wins Prestigious Industry Competition: AMP University Challenge
The university should be the school of life. This is why University of Wollongong (UOW) courses present students with real-world problems to solve as part of their homework.
Recently, financial planning students at UOW had the opportunity – alongside their peers from Central Queensland University, Deakin University, Griffith University, TAFE NSW, Charles University Sturt and the University of Western Sydney – to enter an industry-focused competition, the AMP University Challenge, under their topic FIN329.
During the challenge, students were tested on their technical knowledge, had to undertake a mock counseling interview with two clients, and gave a presentation on how best to advise their clients. The stakes were high, as the final five challengers competed for generous prizes: $5,000 for 1st place, $2,500 for 2nd, $1,000 for 3rd, $700 for 4th, and $500 for 5th.
This year, two UOW students, Bonnie O’Donnell and Jarrod Walter, were selected among the top five finalists. And after yesterday’s virtual final, Bonnie won 1st place in the competition, with Jarrod taking third place.
Dr. Sarah Wang, who teaches financial planning at UOW, congratulated the students on their achievement.
“Reaching the final of this prestigious industry-organized competition is already a great achievement. And taking the first and third position is a huge success. Bonnie and Jarrod have a real passion for learning and have been my most engaged students. I am very proud of them,” Dr. Wang said.
For this year’s competition, all students were asked to prepare a financial plan for a couple in their 40s who are learning to manage their finances. They had to consider certain life challenges like illness, a traumatic event, or a common problem of how to pay the mortgage faster and get the highest balance in retirement.
The winner, Bonnie O’Donnell, managed to help the hypothetical couple save $250,000 in interest on their home loan while paying it off 13 years early. She also managed to increase their super balance at retirement by $40,000 without any additional contributions and set up affordable insurance, so that they were protected in case of unforeseen events.
Bonnie is a financial planning student at UOW and a part-time firefighter for Fire Rescue NSW. After graduating, Bonnie plans to become an ethical-first financial advisor, focusing on contributing to the well-being of her community.
“I live in the Sutherland Shire and am fortunate enough to attend Loftus campus for my studies. I love studying here! The University supported me throughout my change of major (from accounting to financial planning) and provided a friendly environment to learn, lots of one-on-one time with tutors and learning activities. ongoing engagement on campus,” said Bonnie.
The student remains very modest about her success, saying it only goes to show how important access to financial planning is for people.
“Consulting a financial planner can seem daunting for a low-to-middle income person. But this task challenged us to use the free resources available online to see if we could improve the client’s financial situation.
“I realized that good financial advice can make a huge difference in people’s lives. And it’s not just for the benefit of those with large sums to invest. A sound knowledge of finances is an integral part of anyone leading a healthy and fulfilling life,” Bonnie said.