There is much to be written about all of the technology scoops at the recent T3 Technology Tools for Today conference. Yet what I found most exciting was the FAStech Cup competition. (For those who don't know, FAStech is an integrated technology platform, supported by top industry firms, provided free of charge to universities’ financial planning programs.) This first annual competition is the first ever financial planning industry technology competition.
The competition, designed to encourage and highlight students’ planning and technology skills, consisted of two separate challenges: the showcase event and the “Quiz Bowl.” Seven universities sent teams: Clarion University (Pennsylvania), San Diego State University, Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University, Utah Valley University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and William Paterson University.
The showcase event was a four-part competition in which teams:
1. Created a brand (advisory firm) and a website to promote their business.
2. Completed a financial plan using integrated software including Orion Inc. portfolio management, Redtail Technology Inc. CRM and MoneyGuidePro financial planning tools from PIEtech Inc.
3. Presented the plan in a 15-minute video via their website client portal.
4. Answered questions from a panel of judges at the conference.
William Paterson University won first place, earning a $5,000 scholarship as well as a traveling cup (similar to hockey's Stanley Cup) that will be passed annually to the winning university. Second-place team (my alma mater) San Diego State was awarded a $3,000 scholarship and third place Texas Tech University won a $2,000 scholarship.
The Quiz Bowl event was a Jeopardy-style competition between three-person student teams on a variety of financial planning industry and technology topics. Students studied the websites of the FAStech Partners, read “Technology Tools for Today’s High-Margin Practice” by David Drucker and Joel Bruckenstein (Bloomberg Press 2013), and answered questions related to financial planning concepts. The winners, after four rounds of competition, were William Paterson (first place), Clarion (second place) and Texas Tech (third place).
“The enthusiasm of the students was heartwarming and made me feel good about the future of the financial advisory profession,” said judge Karyn DeJong, director of marketing at Total Rebalance Expert.
Barry S. Mulholland, one of the founders of FAStech and assistant professor at Texas Tech, noted that the competition will held annually at the T3 Conference. Confident of growing interest in this competition, Mr. Mulholland said he expects 20 to 25 universities to participate next year.
To me, the promise of whole new generation of excited, dedicated and knowledgeable financial planners is the best thing to come out of T3 this year.