friday900-0907Left to right: Bradley Aleckson, Cody Harmon and Cynthia Sercombe

The Financial Planning Association (FPA) chapters sponsored 17 students to attend the 2016 FPA Professionals Congress, exposing them for the first time to the broader financial planning industry.

Griffith University Professor of Finance Dr Mark Brimble says some of Griffith’s students attending the event are undergraduates funded by the FPA, the FPA’s Brisbane and Gold Coast chapters, and by industry-funded prizes such as the GPS Wealth Prize.

“This is a great opportunity for students and represents a form of work-integrated learning, and thus provides benefits for students in terms of career planning, professional awareness and building their progressional identity,” Brimble says.

“This serves to assist in confirming their career choice and enhances their confidence in this choice; [it] enhances self-efficacy and a sense of direction.”

Brimble says enabling students to begin building professional networks will pay off for years to come.

“Delegates are always very willing to talk to students and welcome them into the profession,” Brimble says.

“Given the future of higher professional and education standards, it is also no surprise that students report being offered opportunities for work experience, internships and even employment.

“This is a great endorsement for these future professionals and the education experience they are having.”

Griffith student and 2016 FPA University Student of the Year, Bradley Aleckson, is studying a Bachelor of Commerce degree and says he is “impressed by the amount of effort that FPA has put into this event”.

“It’s good to see,” Aleckson says. “I feel they’re really trying to get students involved, and this year they’ve sponsored 17 students to come, which gives access to students to come to the event and network. It’s the best opportunity – they’re really trying to get new talent – students – access to this.”

Aleckson says the congress is an unparalleled opportunity to “meet and greet everyone who works in the industry”.

“I’m based on the Gold Coast, and where we are it’s not as big, whereas coming here we get the opportunity to meet the big players.”

But it’s not only current students who are benefiting from attendance at the congress, with two former Griffith students also and, like Aleckson, walking away as award winners.

This year’s FPA Financial Planner AFP of the Year Cody Harmon, from Meridian Wealth Management in Melbourne, is a former Griffith student and has been working as a planner for four years.

Harmon says the congress is notable for “the attitude the FPA has towards trying to help the planning community and what it’s doing to try to help increase the professionalism of our profession”.

“It’s a little bit different for me, because I’ve been an adviser for four years already. But their chapters have sponsored a lot of the students, so they’re obviously very progressive about getting new talent into the industry. If I look at what a lot of the younger planners are doing, their ethics are of a high standard and they’re coming up with some good advice.”

Harmon says a highlight of the congress was hearing Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou and former Olympic cyclist Anna Meares discussing the secrets of success.

“Success is not a linear progression,” Harmon says. “Similar to the stockmarket, it’s volatile.”

The 2016 FPA Paraplanner of the Year Cynthia Sercombe says she gains most from “the personal development stuff – dealing with stress, learning to manage the way you think, those sorts of things”.

“You pick up lots of bits and pieces of technical stuff, but generally in our practice we deal with fairly high-level technical stuff already, so most of the time we’re across all of that.”

“It’s always good to know what everyone else is doing. I’ve worked at Tupicoffs for six years now, so you start to get in your own little bubble, which his why this [award] is meaningful because it means we’re doing something right.”

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