8 November 2016

Abercrombie Team: 2016 AMP University Challenge

During week 13 of semester 2 2016, Jason Ye, Willkie Tan and Jack Dillon traveled to AMP headquarters to compete in the nationally renowned AMP University Challenge as the Abercrombie team. The competition invited the nation’s top 5 competitors to a day of financial planning related challenges.

The submission heats
Before we were invited to the finals day, our team had submitted a 20-page Statement of Advice (SoA) on a fictional couple struggling to manage their financial affairs. The SoA covered a wide range topics including superannuation, investments, mortgages and insurance. Lucky for us, AMP provided a real-world fact-find document and advice template to help us put it together.
Our submission finished in the top 5 among 681 other entrants, which secured our spot for the finals!

Finals Day Challenges
The first challenge of the day was the “Who wants to be a Financial Planner” quiz. The quiz involved a difficult range of financial planner related questions in a format inspired by Eddie McGuire’s famous game show. Despite lacking any formal study in financial planning, we came first in this round! 

The next challenge involved a client role play where we would present our statement of advice in an intimate face-to-face setting. The clients were able to ask a series of questions that really went to the bones of our advice and tested our ability to think on the spot. Luckily we were provided a financial planning expert who had 20 years of experience in the industry and coached us well for the challenge.

The final challenge was a speech on how the financial planning industry could increase the uptake of financial advices services by 2021. Forecasting events 5 years into the future is by no means an easy feat, but the judges were impressed with our research across a broad range of topics such as robo advisors, online marketing and industry legacy. 

The role-play and presentation was judged by an (intimidating) panel of top academics and industry professionals with over 45 years of experience. In this era of reality television and self-gratification, their feedback was refreshingly direct and honest.

We weren’t able to get the oversized winner’s cheque unfortunately. But as Shannon Noll would tell you, there’s certainly nothing wrong with coming second.

More than just challenges
Along with the challenges, we also got to do a number of non-competition events including an “Icebreaker session” with creative therapist Kim Taylor. To describe Kim’s techniques as “unique” is a grand understatement. The variety of improvisation games certainly got rid of our nerves, but also lead to some unique acting scenarios.

We were also fortunate to be able to tour the new AMP Spark store (Google it!), which is actively disrupting the financial planning industry as I write. Last but not least, we were treated to a cocktail reception on the balcony of the AMP building overlooking stunning views of Sydney Harbour. 

To conclude
It’s crazy to think that a few months ago, none of our team knew much about financial planning outside of filling out our superannuation forms at work. But in a generation that has to decide between smashed avocados and home ownership, it’s becoming increasingly important that young people learn how to better manage their personal wealth. The challenge was a great opportunity to learn more about the financial planning industry and about how to manage my own finances better.

Looking back, I begin to realise that when we are completely free of our own expectations, the mind extends to its natural potential without impediment. I cannot thank my team enough for all the time put into the competition and I’d definitely recommend any business student grab this opportunity with both hands next year.

By Willkie Tan, current student at the University of Sydney Business School and IT Director of FINSOC Sydney.

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