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College of Business students dominate national financial planning competition

By Geoff Cantrellfinance winners

From left to right, Sophia Spangler, Patrick Payne and Kristen Revis

It was first place honors for Kristen Revis and a solid third place for Sophia Spangler, finance students in Western Carolina University’s College of Business, in a national collegiate competition held this past week in St. Louis.

They rose from a field of 73 students representing 10 universities to find success in a financial planning competition by the International Association of Registered Financial Consultants. Open to undergraduate students who are enrolled in a financial services curriculum, teams undertake a fictional case narrative and from it craft a financial plan, which is judged for effectiveness and potential for success.

“This process has caused you to step out of your comfort zone to present your ideas and actions to some of the best in the profession,” said Barry Dayley, of Money Concepts International and association vice president. “Now that the competition is over and the awards have been presented, you can relax and celebrate your accomplishments as you have reached one of the pinnacles of your educational experience.”

The competition followed three stages: an initial scrutiny by professional consultants; a semifinal elimination round then advancement for four top teams to present to the association’s chapter board members.

“The competition was a challenging learning experience, but has opened many doors for me.,” said Revis. “I am confident that Western Carolina's finance department has prepared me for a career in financial planning.”

Revis is currently in discussion with several financial planning firms, but said she has no set plans at the moment.

“Our students really rose to the challenge provided by the 2021 National Financial Plan Competition,” said Patrick Payne, WCU associate professor of finance and competition adviser for both students. “It expanded their horizons and encouraged them to dive deep into the planning process as well as giving them a chance to see how to present to clients and get feedback from industry professionals. We are very proud of them and their hard work on this competition.”

Following graduation at the end of the semester, Spangler said she plans to move to Georgia this summer and work for a financial planning firm that specializes in assisting military families.

“The competition was an eye opener,” Spangler said. “Going from theory to having someone question the decisions based on that theory was helpful. It was good to work through that relationship, the dynamic of a planner and a client, and actually working together for best outcomes was cool.”

WCU’s Finance Department teaches students the art and science of money management with career opportunities include financial planning, investment management, corporate finance, treasury management, investment banking, commercial banking and real estate, risk management and insurance. For more information, visit finance.wcu.edu, call 828-227-7412 or email business@wcu.edu.

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