Business students win national finance competition

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Kallen and Huey

KALAMAZOO--Two Western Michigan University business students took first place in a recent financial service industry competition, topping finalist teams from Texas Tech and William Paterson universities and each earning a $3,000 scholarship.

Team members Alison Huey, an accountancy major from Canton, Mich., and Joshua Kallen, an advertising and promotion major from Muskegon, Mich., won first place in the first Financial Services National Industry Issues Competition held in late January in Phoenix.

The competition, sponsored by the Society of Financial Service Professionals, provided student teams from universities around the country with the opportunity to provide practical insights and recommendations to a real-world financial services industry issue. This year's topic focused on the use of social media.

"In their project, Josh and Alison identified the ways social media can be used to develop long-term client relationships within the financial services industry," says Dr. Devrim Yaman, associate professor of finance. "With this award, they have demonstrated that they can use what they learn in class to solve real-world issues. Josh and Alison make a great team, and they are willing to take initiative. It was through creativity and hard work that this interdisciplinary team earned this prestigious award."

Huey says she learned a great deal about the financial services industry through the experience.

"We did an analysis of social media and how it benefits financial service professionals through maintaining long-term relationships with their clients, which is so vital to their business," Huey says. "However, social media has been a difficult process to utilize within the financial services industry due to many regulations and restrictions that create barriers. The idea behind our paper and presentation was to inform leading financial services professionals the importance of staying current with technology, while also preserving the personal connections that they have with their customers."

Kallen says it was a thrill to compete in and win the competition.

"The experience of winning the national competition in Phoenix was unparalleled in our academic careers," Kallen says. "When we first discussed the topic for our paper, we knew we had to try our hardest to make it to the top. Receiving the phone call that we were finalists was an exciting moment, but even more exciting was the conference and the trip to Phoenix, where we climbed a mountain and enjoyed the weather."

Colleges and universities actively participate in a variety of ways in the Society of Financial Service Professional's University Partners Program. The Industry Issues Competition represents an excellent way for students to research a timely topic with the opportunity to earn scholarship funds for their schools.

The competition centered on a submitted paper judged by a panel of financial professionals to determine three finalist teams. Finalist teams then made an oral presentation in Phoenix before a panel of judges drawn from attendees at the society's prestigious Arizona Institute. Scholarship awards were made to the universities of the finalist teams based on their combined paper and oral presentations.

The society's Southwest Michigan Chapter sponsored the WMU team, making it possible for the students to compete.

For more information, contact Valorie Juergens in the Haworth College of Business at valorie.juergens@wmich.edu or (269) 387-5964.