The Financial Planning Program at Texas A&M University was represented at the first-ever FAStech Cup competition at the recent 9th Annual T3 Technology Tools for Today conference in Anaheim, CA. FAStech is an integrated technology platform, supported by top industry firms, provided free of charge to universities’ financial planning programs. The competition emphasized the students’ planning and technology skills. Mariel Braun (Houston, Texas), Andrew Edwards (Nederland, Texas), and Henry Lande (Liberty Hill, Texas), seniors in Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University competed against students from Clarion University, San Diego State University, Texas Tech University, Utah Valley University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and William Paterson University.
Their coach for the competition was Nathan Harness, assistant professor at Texas A&M University–Commerce and instructor in the Financial Planning program.
The competition consisted of two separate challenges, the Showcase event and the Quiz Bowl, designed to highlight the importance of the innovative use of technology in financial planning. The Showcase event was a four-part competition in which the teams:
1. Created a brand (advisory firm) and a website to promote their business.
2. Completed a financial plan using integrated software including Orion Inc. portfolio management, Redtail Technology Inc. CRM and MoneyGuidePro financial planning tools from PIEtech Inc.
3. Presented the plan in a 15-minute video via their website client portal.
4. Answered questions from a panel of judges at the conference.
For the Quiz Bowl competition the students tested their knowledge of financial planning and technology in a head-to-head competition against top financial planning programs in a Jeopardy-style competition.
For the Showcase competition, the students were asked to set up an advisory firm (RIA) to work with a financial planning client case. They designed a company website (http://belfinancialplanning.weebly.com/) where they hosted a Financial Goal Plan for their first client using a provided case study. The students used the same cutting edge technology that a financial planner would use with clients. After developing the company, website, and financial plan, the students recorded a video presenting the plan to their case-study clients. All of these results were graded and judged against the other teams from national financial planning programs. This culminated in a “live” client interview with the judges at the T3 conference where the students responded to follow up questions.
The students participating in the competition gained knowledge and experience beyond that offered in the classroom, which will set them apart when they enter the job market. They learned how financial software companies and financial planners work together to serve the clients.
“The Financial Planning Program at Texas A&M offers numerous opportunities like this one which sets itself apart from many other programs,” says Mariel Braun, one of the team members.
Another team member, Henry Lande, emphasized, “The FASTech Competition really opened my eyes to a different side of Financial Planning and the technology surrounding it.”
“The FASTech competition provided our team the opportunity to apply our financial planning skills to real world scenarios,” according to Andrew Edwards, the third member of the team.
The experience was not all hard work; the students and their coach also enjoyed a fun day at Disneyland complements of FAStech Partners.
FAStech is planning to hold the competition annually at the T3 Conference. Next year’s FAStech Cup competition will be held in conjunction with the 2015 T3 (Technology Tools for Today) Conference in Dallas, TX, February 11-13.
For more about FAStech Partners and the FAStech Cup, go to http://www.fastechpartners.com/ and http://fastechpartners.com/assets/fastech-cup-invitation.pdf. The website for Technology Tools for Today is http://www.technologytoolsfortoday.com/.