CULLOWHEE -- Financial planning has been rated as the "best job" in the nation, and that's just fine with students enrolled in Western Carolina University's financial planning program.

 The "Jobs Rated Almanac 2001," by Les Krantz, listed financial planning as the No. 1 occupation based on work environment, income, employment outlook, physical demands, security and stress.

About 35 WCU students are enrolled in the financial planning concentration of the university's finance major. Western Carolina is the only public university in the state that offers the degree, said Grace Allen, WCU associate professor of finance.

 Western's financial planning program became registered with the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards in 1998, which allows graduates of the WCU program to take the 10-hour, two-day Certified Financial Planner examination. After passing that examination and accumulating three years of financial planning experience, financial planners can become Certified Financial Planner licensees, Allen said.

 WCU financial planning students have taken jobs with banks, brokerage firms and financial planning firms, including such companies as Bank of America, First Union, Salomon Smith Barney, AG Edwards and Starks Financial Services, Allen said.

 Before they can step into the nation's "best job," students currently enrolled in the program are hoping for a chance to test their abilities against some of the best student financial planners in the country.

 The students are vying for a chance to compete at the American Express Planning Invitational 2001, an event that will bring together the best student financial planners from around the country for two days of contests in Minneapolis, Minn. Last year, a team of WCU students was among six college teams in the nation that earned a right to participate in the event, held in New York City. The Western students walked away with the overall third-place prize.

 First, a team consisting of three WCU financial planning students will be chosen through an on-campus competition, Allen said. Those three students will then join other college teams from around the country in submitting a financial plan for a fictitious family to American Express.

If the WCU students' entry is judged one of the six best in the country, the three students and Allen will receive a free trip to Minnesota to compete in the invitational April 26-29. Teams will have a chance to win up to $10,000 in scholarship money for their schools as they give an oral presentation based on a variation of the original fictitious case. The presentation will be given in front of a panel of industry experts, Allen said.

 During the invitational, the students also will compete in a game show-style event. WCU students captured first place in that contest last year.

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Last modified: Friday, Feb. 9, 2001
Copyright 2001 by Western Carolina University