(L-R) John Perri, Sue Morris, and Phil Anderson

A team of three students from Deakin University has won the 2023 AMP University Challenge, a competition that promotes financial planning excellence, identifies emerging talent, and fosters professionalism in future advisers. 

AMP head of TapIn and technical strategy John Perri – one of three judges on the day – says students Angus Uwland, Chaise Murray and James Elsworthy found the competition challenging, which was the desired outcome. 

“We put them through different tests, including a mock interview, we got them to do a presentation on a more relevant topic, and we also tested them technically,” Perri tells Professional Planner. 

“They had to prepare effectively an advice document for their mock interview. We made it a little bit challenging because we gave them a case study to run with – a husband and wife [with a child] effectively – and asked them to address six needs.” 

Perri adds that the participants then had to focus on two of those six needs, which was “paying off the mortgage and investing some surplus cash flow”. 

“Unbeknownst to the participants, at the eight-minute mark, one of the mock clients [got] a phone call to be advised that her daughter’s been accepted into [a private school], and the excess cash flow was going to go. To see them having to think on the spot was really interesting because…they prepared themselves to deliver their spiel on the SOA and then had to deal with that [unexpected] event. They handled it very well.” 

Perri added that one of his fellow judges, Hyland Financial Planning financial adviser Sue Morris, was so impressed by one of the students’ reactions that she wanted to find out whether she could employ him. 

“The way he actually handled [the] twist was excellent,” Perri says. 

“I went [into the Challenge] thinking, ‘Oh yeah, they’re just going to read their notes or something and just go like that’, but no – not at all. They were very competitive, looking for every edge they can find. I think they appreciated being out of out of academia for a day. I believe it was challenging [but] they all took it in good spirits. We were very, very pleased.” 

Perri, Morris and third judge, FAAA general manager Phil Anderson, rated the students on a scale from one to ten on “seven or eight” different criteria. These included how well the students interacted with the mock clients, maintained eye contact, used body language, and how they handled the unexpected phone call. 

“It’s quite a stressful day, to be honest, as a judge,” Perri says. 

“There were five groups presenting at the end of the day out of so many that had applied, and then [we had to] judge them on each of those criteria.” 

Perri adds there was not many variances between himself and his two fellow judges. 

“I always worry about being like that that odd judge in boxing who scores one of the boxers really poorly and the other twos ranks them really highly. On this occasion, [I’m] pleased to say that the three of us, when we shared our results, were pretty much in the ballpark.” 

The judges’ scores were then put into a computer at the end of the day, and the winners were announced. 

“From an industry perspective, [the Challenge is] an absolutely tremendous opportunity for students to compete and apply their trade,” Perri says. 

“It’s one thing to do to learn things academically, [but] you’re not actually dealing with real life clients at that point.” 

One comment on “Challenge identifies Australia’s best financial planning students”
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    This is a really competitive environment to attract and retain talent. Anything we can do to promote our industry to potential new entrants and graduates has to be applauded. Well done to all that took part, all the participants, judges and all the organizers.

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