Students Bonnie and Jarrod at AMP University Challenge

Financial advice key to a wholesome life

Financial advice key to a wholesome life

UOW student wins prestigious industry competition: the AMP University Challenge

University should be the school of life. That’s why courses at the University of Wollongong (UOW) present students with real-life problems to tackle as part of their assignments.

Recently, UOW financial planning students had an opportunity – alongside their peers from Central Queensland University, Deakin University, Griffith University, TAFE NSW, Charles Sturt University and Western Sydney University – to take part in an industry-oriented competition, the AMP University Challenge, as a part of their FIN329 subject.

During the challenge, the students were tested on their technical knowledge, had to undertake a mock advice interview with two clients and delivered a presentation on how to best advise their clients. The stakes were high, as the final five challengers competed for generous prizes: $5000 for 1st place, $2500 for 2nd, $1000 for 3rd, $700 for 4th and $500 for the 5th.

This year, two UOW students, Bonnie O’Donnell and Jarrod Walter, were selected among the top five finalists. And after yesterday’s virtual finals, 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 success.

“Reaching the finals of this prestigious industry-hosted competition is already a great achievement. And taking the first and the third position is a massive success. Bonnie and Jarrod have a real passion for learning and were my most engaged students. I am very proud of them,” Dr Wang said.

For this year’s competition, all the students were asked to prepare a financial plan for a couple in their 40s who are learning to navigate their finances. They had to factor in some life challenges like illness, a traumatic event, or a common issue of how to pay the mortgage faster and get the biggest balance at 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 faster. She also managed to increase their super balance at retirement by $40,000 without any extra contributions and implement affordable insurance, so they were protected in case of an unforeseen event.

Bonnie is a student of financial planning at UOW and a full-time firefighter for Fire Rescue NSW. After she graduates, Bonnie plans to become an ethical-first financial adviser, focusing on contributing to the wellness of her community.

“I live in the Sutherland Shire and am lucky to attend the Loftus Campus for my study. I love studying here! The University supported me through my change of major (from accounting to financial planning) and has provided a friendly environment to learn in, plenty of one-on-one time with tutors and constant campus engagement activities,” Bonnie said.

The student stays very modest about her success, saying that it only demonstrates how important access to financial planning is for people.

“Seeing a financial planner may seem daunting for a low-middle income earner. But this task challenged us to use available free resources online to see if we could improve the client’s financial situation.

“I realised that good financial advice can make a massive difference in people’s lives. And it’s not just for the benefit of those with significant amounts to invest. Sound knowledge of finances is integral to any person having a wholesome and fulfilling life,” Bonnie said.