A team from Shepherd University's financial planning club will compete in the 2012 Financial Planning Challenge at the Financial Planning Association's annual conference in San Antonio Sept. 29 to Oct. 2.
"It's an amazing experience for us because not only do we get to compete, but we get to network while we're down there and meet all kinds of people in the industry and go to different seminars," said team member Jennie Tomcho, a business administration senior from Martinsburg.
The challenge was created to support the next generation of financial planners by engaging students and program directors, raising awareness of career opportunities and encouraging learning and networking in the profession.
In the first phase of competition, the Shepherd students beat a dozen other teams who all had to create and submit in June a financial plan, including areas like retirement, college-saving and taxes, without software, for a fictional family.
A total of eight teams go on to the conference and will give oral presentations about their case studies and then participate in a game-show style financial-planning knowledge test. The winners take home $10,000 for their school. The other teams represent Colorado State University, Kansas State University, Texas Tech University, Virginia Commonwealth University and three teams from Virginia Tech.
Melanie Vincent, from Hedgesville, and Ginny Huston, from Falling Waters, round out the Shepherd team. All three competitors are seniors majoring in business administration with financial planning concentrations. Huston has a second major in accounting.
"The fact that this team made it to this level in the competition is huge," said club community mentor Rob Hoxton, CEO of HFI Wealth Management. "There's so much buzz about Shepherd's program throughout the national circles."
Hoxton is also president of the Rural Financial Planning Project advisory board, whose members are local financial professionals who guide and support Shepherd's financial planning program and club. The RFPP board provides tuition assistance, mentorship, internships and career opportunities for students, as well as professional development opportunities for faculty.
Dr. E. Gordon DeMeritt, chair of the business administration department, advises the financial planning club at Shepherd, which helps students with financial planning employment, internships, scholarships and rsum building.
The Financial Planning Association is a leadership and advocacy organization connecting those who provide, support and benefit from financial planning. The members network, meet other planners and get continuing education credits at the conference, Hoxton said.