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Examiner
  • Business knowledge advances students to national competition

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  • Two local financial planners recently advised an elderly couple on whether they have enough funds to retire.
    “Of all your investments, you have 65 percent of it in stocks and 35 percent in bonds,” they said to the couple. “You need to put more of a focus in bonds rather than stocks. Plus your Social Security should cover all of your fixed expenses.”
    What makes these particular financial advisers unique is that they are students at Fort Osage High School.
    The elderly couple was fictitious, as they were part of a case study in which sophomore Justin Earley and senior Mason Murphy had to present retirement advice to a panel of judges at the Future Business Leaders of America Leadership Conference in Columbia, Missouri, earlier this month. The two FBLA members participated in the Banking and Financial Systems event at the state competition and were selected to give a presentation on retirement in front of four business executives and leaders.
    “We only knew our topic 20 minutes before we presented,” said Murphy. “Luckily, retirement is kind of my specialty because I helped my grandparents with theirs.”
    Dressed to look the part in business suits, the Fort Osage duo gave a seven-minute presentation on retirement planning. They placed second in the event, which qualified them to participate at the National Leadership Competition in Nashville, Tennessee, in June.
    “The wealth of knowledge they have at this young age is impressive,” said Fort Osage business teacher and FBLA chapter adviser Terri Fletcher.
    Fletcher said this is the second time Fort Osage had students qualify for the nationals, but the first time the school will be having students actually participate in it. She said more than 350 teams competed in a variety of 50 to 60 events at the state competition. The events ranged from accounting to computer programming and even impromptu speaking.
    “Any business topic.”
    Future Business Leaders of America is a career and technical organization for all high school students in the country to participate in business programs, according to Fletcher.
    “It is a network opportunity,” she said. “A lot of business students do it for job resources and interview and speaking skills. There are business leaders (at these FBLA competitions) that give students pointers and critique their presentations on how to succeed in the business world.”
    Murphy said he joined his school’s FBLA chapter because he is good with numbers and that he wants to become an accountant. Earley said this is the first year he’s been with the group. The FBLA chapter at Fort Osage meets two Thursdays each month during the school year.
    Page 2 of 2 - “This is a first time members of a very small group get to compete at the national level,” said Fletcher. She said two out of 10 members will represent Fort Osage at the National Leadership Competition.
    Murphy and Earley’s journey to the Nationals began by getting a high score on an assessment that allowed them to participate at the state competition earlier this month. A student can either compete with a team or individually. Murphy also competed in the Business Calculations event, where he placed fifth.
    “I feel accomplished,” said Earley about placing at the state level and being allowed to compete nationally. Both students said they attributed their success to simply paying attention in business class.
    In preparation for the FBLA national competition, the two said they are busy studying other case studies since they plan to stick with the Banking and Financial Systems event.
    “Banking and Financial Systems are about how banks work and other similar financial practices,” said Murphy.
    Murphy said he plans to study accounting at University of Missouri-Columbia after graduation, while Earley said he wants to take a medical career path.
    “I want to become a plastic surgeon.”
    As for their own financial advice, both said that frugality is key.
    “Don’t get into stupid spending, like credit cards or loans,” advised Earley. “You want to avoid debt at all costs.”
    Sound advice indeed.
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