Three College of Business Students Form First Colorado State University Team to Place at Financial Planning Association Competition

Three Colorado State University College of Business students took third place in the recent 2010 Financial Planning Challenge. It was the first time a CSU team had ever placed at the event.

The Challenge, a case competition and game-show-style knowledge contest, is designed for undergraduate degree programs registered with the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards or related fields of study. The contest took place at the Financial Planning Association’s Annual Conference of the Financial Planning Community this fall in Denver, Colo.

Students were chosen to compete last spring and prepared over the summer. They included Kristin Brandli, Elyse Hitchings and Dan Preller. John Hopkins served as the team advisor. They won a $1,000 scholarship to be awarded by the Department of Finance and Real Estate, and each student won an annual membership to FPA and a $100 gift card. The annual membership includes subscriptions to the Journal of Financial Planning, BusinessWeek and Money Magazine.

“Being the first team at CSU to compete nationally was an honor. I think CSU truly left a legacy at the FPA conference,” Hitchings said.

“The finance faculty deserves a lot of credit,” Preller said. “Thanks to its help and diligence in teaching us, I felt that our team was very prepared for the tasks we needed to accomplish to do better than most of the teams. There’s no way we could have done this on our own.”

Students cited their course in Professional Financial Planning with David Mascio as the foundation for their preparation, along with courses taught by Jennifer Coats and Ed Prill. Additionally, they gave special credit to Hopkins for his guidance in preparing them for the competition, especially because the students had not covered certain coursework that the other teams had.

“John Hopkins obviously did a great job with them,” said Vickie Bajtelsmit, professor and department chair of the Department of Finance and Real Estate. “Given that our curriculum does not yet include several key content areas that were covered by both the case and the game, our students had to work harder and better. This is an amazing achievement.”

“The final project is a testament to all of the hard work we put in as a team,” Brandli said. “Not having the same backgrounds as the other schools, we strove to push our boundaries, and I believe we succeeded. Our team was actually in the lead for most of the knowledge contest before finishing third overall.”

Relevant experience made a difference to students. “I enjoyed the real-world experience,” Brandli said.

Six additional students attended the meeting as volunteers. All nine attended the educational sessions and interacted with financial planning professionals during the rest of the conference. As a follow up, CSU may start a FPA chapter.

For more information, contact Vickie Bajtelsmit, professor and department chair of the Department of Finance and Real Estate, at (970) 491-0610 or