In preparing for the final round of the university category, Joanne Man Yuen-ting left nothing to chance.
The leader of the winning Guardian team from Chinese University knew that success depended on taking a holistic view of the case study and presenting recommendations that showed a full understanding of the client's choices.
The topic centred on decisions facing a family, with a modest but steady income, who wanted to give their children the best possible education while also setting aside enough for retirement. Teams had just two weeks to complete their research and prepare a professional standard, financial plan that could stand up to the scrutiny of the judges.
"We first did a detailed analysis of the case and looked into the qualitative and quantitative aspects," says Man, a fourth-year student taking a BBA in professional accountancy. "Then we spoke to friends and parents to find out their needs and priorities before talking to banks and people working in the financial planning field. They were generally happy to offer advice. As a team, we enjoyed the process and certainly learned a lot."
What particularly impressed Ernest Chan, chief commercial officer at Convoy Financial Services and a judge, was how well the four team members handled the question-and-answer session. Each was able to expand on basic information included in the formal presentation, showing a thorough understanding of the material and of the need to explain financial concepts in clear terms.
"They used statistics to validate their conclusions - their overall approach was very professional," says Daniel Chow, general manager of consumer banking sales and distribution at Standard Chartered Bank. "If one person wasn't 100 per cent sure of an answer, they took a few seconds to discuss it."