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From soccer star to financial planning champion

Deakin University graduate Jacob Eliopoulos has been named Australia’s top financial planning student, taking home the 2023 Financial Advice Association Australia (FAAA) University Student of the Year Award.

Pictured: Jacob Eliopoulos, FAAA Student of the Year 2023, with Marc Olynyk, Director of FInancial Planning courses at Deakin.

The award recognises Jacob’s academic achievements as well as his contribution and commitment to promoting financial advice as a career pathway.

It’s the second year in a row a Deakin student has taken home the prestigious FAAA award, with alumnus Matthew Kanizay winning in 2022.

Jacob began his Bachelor of Commerce (with a major in financial planning and finance) online while overseas playing professional football in Cyprus, keen to keep his brain active in between training.

“Starting uni a little later, at 22, it meant I really knew what I wanted to do. I was a bit more mature and could give 100 per cent,” Jacob said.

“What I really enjoy about financial planning is working with clients and helping people achieve their financial security goals.”

When the Covid-19 pandemic forced him back to Australia in 2020, Jacob combined his study with work in the financial planning industry and is currently an associate financial adviser at The Hopkins Group.

“It hasn’t always been easy to balance my studies with work, but it has taught me some really good habits,” Jacob said.

“I’m still playing soccer semi-professionally with the Oakleigh Cannons, so I’ve had to be very disciplined about putting time aside to focus on my studies.”

Jacob said his soccer career helped him grow skills he can apply to study and work too.

“It’s taught me good discipline, making sure you show up every day and perform consistently to a high standard,” he said.

“As a high-performance athlete, you have to learn to get the most out of yourself, and that’s led to strict self-discipline, which has had a big impact on the rest of my life.”

Deakin is recognised in as an industry leader in financial planning education, with its courses taught by academics who have worked in the profession.

What has made the difference at Deakin, Jacob said, is the network and opportunities that university study provides.

“The best part, especially in my final year, has been connecting with students and teachers,” he said.

“For anyone thinking about a career in financial planning I really encourage them to network and get a better understanding of the industry, because it’s such a great industry to be in, especially if you’re a people person who enjoys variety.

“You’re constantly dealing with different clients, which keeps you on your toes. You’re not just sitting behind a desk, you’re getting out there, learning and meeting people.”

Having graduated from Deakin in October, Jacob is now working full-time and taking the final steps to become an authorised adviser.

“Slowly from there I would like to build up my client book and just be the best financial adviser I can be,” he said.

“I’m rapt to win this award from the FAAA and to be recognised with such a successful group of financial planners.”

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