FHSU financial planning team heads back to national competition

Third time is always a charm. The Fort Hays State University financial planning team is hoping that this is going to be the case this year at the national competition on April 8 in Huntington Beach, CA.

The first financial planning team at FHSU went to the national competition in 2001 and took the title, and then the next team went back in 2002 and won the competition again.

So for this year's team, which consists of seniors Jamie Heiman, Baileyville; Rebecca Skrdlant, Norton; and Aaron Thomas, Cimarron, preparing for the upcoming competition has taken much dedication.

"It's taken a lot of hours of work," Heiman said. "But we're motivated because of the fact that Fort Hays State's team has won the last two years."

A case was sent to the students at the beginning of February and they were given until March 3 to complete a financial plan with absolutely no help. The students worked many hours to get the plan ready for submission.

"We started getting organized about a week before we got the case," Heiman said. "And after we had the case, we made contact with each other daily."

The financial plan they submitted scored the team a spot in the top six teams, out of 30 from across the nation.

The next step is the trip to Huntington Beach, CA. They will arrive on Tuesday evening, and upon arrival, will be given a "twist" to the case that they originally were given. The team has Tuesday night to prepare and change the plan accordingly, before presenting it to a panel of judges on Wednesday. The presentation will be done in a style similar to how they would actually present it to the family.

The final part of the competition is a Jeopardy-style game show where the team will answer questions regarding financial planning, insurance, investments, taxes and retirement planning.

FHSU will compete against Baylor University, Waco, TX; Kansas State University; Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX; Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA; and Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC.

Nevertheless, the large universities they are up against does not intimidate the team.

"It used to be intimidating, but it's not anymore," said Dr. Tom Johansen, associate professor of economics and finance and coach of the team. "I think it's probably intimidating for them to go up against us."

The first financial planning team at FHSU was initiated by Johansen, after he saw a presentation by American Express in August 2000 at a Certified Financial Planners Board of Standards Program Directors Conference in Denver. He informed his students of the competition and eventually formed the first team.

With the pressure of winning the third national title for FHSU on them, the students and Johansen, are even more excited for the competition.

"People think we can't do it three years in a row," Johansen said. "But we're going there to win it. It's the only option for us."

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