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DBS student Michael Reardon wins 2018 AMP University Challenge

Deakin takes out top spot again in prestigious national financial planning competition.

Commerce student Michael Reardon has taken Deakin University to its third win in four years at the prestigious 2018 AMP University Challenge.

Michael, who has just completed a Master of Commerce (specialising in Financial Planning and Project Management), was among six students to qualify for the final from more than 600 entries.

Now in its eighth year, the AMP University Challenge is a national financial planning competition for tertiary students that aims to identify new talent and promote high standards of education and professionalism among the next generation of advisers.

This year’s finalists took part in a series of challenges that included a technical quiz, a mock interview presenting advice to two “clients,” and a speech that pitched a financial literacy program for young people to the judges.

Delighted with the win, Michael says Deakin’s financial planning academics played key supporting roles in the lead-up to the competition.

‘Assoc. Prof. Adrian Raftery had experience coaching students through this competition, so he really helped me get an idea about what to expect. I was also studying the Managing Client Relationships unit with Dr Campbell Heggen which really helped me prepare for the client interview. Even though you only have about 15 minutes with the “clients,” I was able to picture in my mind how I wanted the relationship to feel, and hopefully that came across in the competition. Campbell also spent some time discussing cognitive biases and touching upon behavioural economics concepts, which I ended up using as the backdrop for my speech,’ he explains.

Lecturer Marc Olynyk also provided Michael with support by attending the whole day’s competition.

‘This was extremely helpful as he also gave me some tips and let me know how he thought I was doing which really took some of the pressure off,’ he says.

Both honoured and ‘surprised’ to take out the winning prize, Michael says he was impressed by the group of finalists and says the competition provided him with a valuable experience.

‘I honestly tried not to worry about the competitive aspect too much. You simply get a lot out of the day – lots of networking opportunities, some career guidance, and AMP does a great job of making you feel like you’ve already achieved something just by being a finalist.’

Michael completed a Bachelor of Economics in the USA before moving to Australia in 2009 where he’s been working in the financial services sector.

A para-planner since 2015, he enrolled in a Master of Commerce at Deakin in 2015 (after becoming an Australian citizen) and studied via Deakin’s Cloud Campus.

‘I chose Deakin because of its excellent reputation for distance learning – with work and family responsibilities, I needed flexible study. After completing the Project Management component of my degree, I decided to add a second specialisation in Financial Planning. I’ve always considered becoming an adviser a potential career path, and as Deakin’s program is currently listed on the FASEA-approved programs and providers list, I thought rounding out my master’s with four units from this program would be a great way to add value to my degree.’

With his degree now completed, Michael says winning the 2018 AMP University Challenge is a welcome addition to his professional profile.

‘That is especially true given the heightened focus being placed on education standards in the [financial planning] industry right now. To win this challenge is a really great way to finish off my studies. I’m also very proud to bring yet another win to Deakin as it has been an excellent institution to study with and I hope that it helps drive more people looking to meet the new education standards to make the same choice I did.’

The AMP University Challenge provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate their technical knowledge combined with effective communications skills in a real-world scenario. Providing students with the unique and first-hand experience in being a financial adviser.

Our win in 2018 has marked a third year win at the AMP University Challenge, taking note of our previous winners:


Megan Cull, Daniel Petrov and Mitchell Bogdanov


Patrick Rowe 









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