(L-R) Angus Uwland, Chaise Murray, and James Elsworthy

A trio of students from Deakin University – Angus Uwland, Chaise Murray, and James Elsworthy – emerged victorious from the 2023 AMP University Challenge, a competition that promotes financial planning excellence, identifies emerging talent, and fosters professionalism in future advisers. 

Participants were put through a series of tests, including a mock interview with an unexpected twist in client circumstances. It proved challenging, but the students embraced the opportunity to test their skills beyond academia. 

Uwland, Murray, and Elsworthy are grateful for the experience. 

“[I felt] vindication that our studies are on the right track for the profession and acknowledged by people actually in the industry, not just lecturers and markers – industry people [who] actually recognise [our] work has been to a good quality,” Uwland tells Professional Planner. 

Murray says it “really cool experience” to be recognised as potential advisers in the future by those industry peers and judges who are alreadyin the profession. 

Elsworthy says  the competition was also “the icing on the cake” upon completing his  degree. 

“I’m proud of what we achieved,” he says.

Uwland says the competition enhanced their understanding of the advice industry. 

“It just reiterated to me how much the industry people put in actual communication,” he says. 

“It’s not just about the technical work, it’s building those relationships and being able to adjust on the fly and all that little stuff. That is important, but it probably doesn’t get taught or can’t be taught at university level.” 

Murray says the event showed them how to transfer academic knowledge into real world application. 

“You go to something like this, and it was major focus on being human, being able to relate to people and being able to practically implement what you’ve put down on paper, which can sometimes be hard because that transition between paper and real life, it’s not always going to be black and white,” he says. 

Murray adds that it was “really nice to get that reassurance that what I’m doing and the way I go about [advising] is obviously quite good compared to peers in the industry”. 

He urges financial advice students to remember that, when they are writing Statements of Advice and other documentation, clients are people as well. 

“You’re not just trying to give every dollar a job across the board,” he says. 

“You’ve got to remember that things are going to happen to clients that they’re not going to expect,” he says.

What Elsworthy gathered from the competition is the significant impact on advisers’ reputations in recent years, and the resulting impact on the industry’s credibility. 

“That stressed the need for the education requirements and bringing the profession up to that professional level,” he says. 

Uwland urges advice students to “get into the industry as quick as [they] can”. 

“Learning the technical side is really good, but it’s only a small percentage of the actual job and just on-the-job-learning is as crucial if not more [important] than the actual course.” 

Elsworthy encourages future participants to enjoy the day. 

 “Take it all in,” he says. 

“It’s great to meet your peers [and] network and hear what they have to say.” 

The judges – FAAA head of policy Phil Anderson, AMP head of TapIn and technical strategy John Perri, and Hyland Financial Planning financial adviser Sue Morris – were impressed by the students’ ability to adapt and handle the unexpected. 

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