CULLOWHEE - A three-person team from Western Carolina University captured second place and $5,000 in scholarship money in the annual American Express Planning Invitational, a competition in which students pit their financial planning abilities against students from other universities across the nation.

This marks the fourth time in the past five years that students from Western claimed a top-three finish in the competition, held in Minneapolis, home of American Express Financial Advisors corporate headquarters.

Western’s team consisted of three seniors majoring in finance through a financial planning concentration offered by the WCU College of Business. Team members are Carrie Hemphill of Marion, Neal Nolan of Horseshoe and Rachel Wilson of Franklin. Their faculty adviser is Grace Allen, associate professor of finance.

Students were judged based on their presentation of a financial plan they created for a fictitious family, and for their performance during the “How Do You Know?” challenge, a game-show style competition that tested their financial planning knowledge.

“The American Express Planning Invitational is a great experience for the students to see they can compete on a national level with those from larger schools,” Allen said. “Western Carolina is a small school, but our continued success shows our students are well-trained and marketable in the financial field.”

A team from Virginia Tech won first prize and $10,000 in scholarship money, while students from Texas Tech finished third and earned $1,000.

“Western finished in third place during the inaugural year of the event, and has claimed second prize in three out of the last four years,” Allen said. “Next stop, first place.”

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Last modified: Friday, April 30, 2004
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