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Bottom line? It’s UA financial planners for the win

2014-09-25 00:00:00.0

From detailed number crunching to polished presentation, The University of Akron’s Financial Planning Challenge Team proved unbeatable in a national competition against seven other schools at the annual conference of the Financial Planning Association in Seattle, Wash., this past weekend.

Danielle Molyet, team captain, Jessica Rorar and Thomas Minnick comprise the first UA team to make it beyond the first round of this competition. Together they beat teams from Kansas State, Texas A&M, University of Georgia, Utah Valley University, Virginia Tech, Western Carolina University and William Paterson University to win the Financial Planning Association Challenge 2014.

Financial planning team

Financial planning majors, from left, Danielle Molyet, Jessica Rorar and Thomas Minnick had some time for sight-seeing in Seattle after winning the Financial Planning Association Challenge 2014.

For its first place win, the UA team was presented with a $10,000 scholarship for the College of Business Administration. Following in second and third place were Utah Valley and William Paterson, respectively.

The three financial planning majors are all members of the Honors College. Rorar, of Akron, and Minnick, of Hubbard, are scheduled to graduate in December. Molyet, of Fremont, will graduate next May. Suzanne M. Gradisher, J.D., served as the team’s advisor. She is an assistant professor of business law in the Department of Finance.

Their win represents nine months of work, says Molyet.

Hard work pays dividends

Beginning in January, they started reviewing case studies of financial plans and received some coaching from faculty and local financial planners.

But once the first phase of the competition began — the team was on its own.

"We were required to submit a written financial plan based on a given case," explains Molyet. "We had about six weeks to write the plan, which involved identifying client goals and objectives, exploring available options for improvement and making recommendations."

With their first round win, they began to work on the second phase of the competition — an oral presentation of their plan that would be delivered before a panel of three judges. The team honed its presentation skills and learned how to interact with clients through feedback from faculty, the college’s Finance Advisory Board and local financial planners.

In Seattle, after all the presentations were delivered and scored, the third phase of the competition commenced — a “quiz bowl” of financial planning questions.

“We were leading through the entire game, until the bonus question,” Molyet reports ruefully. “Virginia Tech beat us on that one, but we were the overall winners.”

Potential employers take notice

The entire experience has been quite a confidence builder for all three team members as they prepare to graduate and go to work in the industry, adds Molyet.

“We learned so much, and we had valuable networking time with potential employers at the conference,” says Molyet. “Personally, I strengthened my leadership skills through this experience. And, winning a national competition like this gives you a lot of credibility in the industry. I’m part of a team that is No. 1 in the country!”

Media contact: Denise Henry, 330-972-6477 or