Conestoga news

April 5, 2024 11:33 AM

Conestoga students advance to finals of national financial planning competition

Three students in Conestoga’s Financial Planning Services graduate certificate program won their semifinal round of the CIFP Case Challenge 2024 on March 24, and are now preparing for the finals on April 13.

(Pictured L-R) Sabiha Nooradosa, Safana Kagzi and Bavleen Kaur will represent Conestoga at the CIFP Case Challenge finals on April 13.

Bavleen Kaur, Sabiha Nooradosa and Safana Kagzi competed in a field of 14 teams from universities and colleges across the country, and finished atop their group of seven teams.

The group delivered a 30-minute presentation virtually to a panel of financial planner judges and were evaluated on their ability to analyze a given scenario and develop a practical and fully calculated financial plan geared towards meeting client needs.

Kaur credits the Financial Planning Services curriculum for providing essential knowledge that helped her and her teammates perform well in the competition.

“We learn from the very beginning about how to understand the client and the establishment of the client relationship. And this semester was more of the extension towards all of the calculations to be done. The entire curriculum, the way it is designed, has been very helpful,” Kaur said.

For the final round, the team will compete against three other top teams from the semifinals. The format will remain the same, with the group receiving the scenario details two-and-a-half hours ahead of presenting virtually, and working in a sequestered breakout room to prepare.

Students were chosen to represent Conestoga from a competitive process that included more than 40 applicants. Conestoga has performed well in this competition in the past, finishing second place in the finals last year.

Jen Banfield, professor and coordinator for the Financial Planning Services program, teamed with professor Arash Soleimani Dahaj to diligently prepare students, meeting with them weekly since the beginning of January. Financial planning industry leaders and chairs and faculty from the School of Business also assisted with coaching.

“We wanted to ensure that no stone was left unturned when it came to preparing our students to succeed,” said Banfield.

“Training for and participating in this national competition exemplify the practical aspect of the student experience we strive to provide, focused on hands-on learning challenges and exposure to top industry talent.”

The team is looking forward to competing in the finals, and is eager to apply the learnings and confidence that they have gained so far.

“We've got a sense of how the actual presentation works and what the judges are looking for, so we'll try and make our presentation as near perfect as possible,” explained Nooradosa.

With her goals still set on winning in the finals, Kagzi is grateful for the experience and how important the skills she has developed will be to her career goals going forward.

“The skills that we got in the competition have been really valuable. Feedback from industry experts and some very valuable tips will really help us when preparing for clients,” said Kagzi.

Banfield is extremely proud of her students’ accomplishments, and also commented on the significance of three females, who are also international students, excelling and achieving impressive results in a traditionally male-dominated field.

“In addition to being excited about the opportunities that this solid performance has opened for these students, we also value the contribution this has towards promoting equity, diversity and inclusion in the financial planning profession - a key industry goal,” Banfield said.

Conestoga provides numerous pathways for obtaining the educational requirements leading to certified financial planning designations and opportunities to obtain insurance licensing. Delivered through the School of Business, the college offers a Financial Planning Services graduate certificate, a Business - Finance diploma, a Business Administration - Financial Planning advanced diploma, and a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) Financial Services.  

The programs combine courses designed at Conestoga, with those originating from industry organizations, to prepare students for opportunities in banking, insurance, private wealth, brokerage and/or independent practice.