Griffith University student Azaria Bell has had a spectacular year in 2017, and her latest achievement – being named University Student of the Year at this month’s Financial Planning Association of Australia (FPA) Awards – is yet another proverbial feather in her bountifully plumed cap.
Announced at the annual FPA Professionals Congress in Hobart, Azaria’s award came as something of a surprise for the Financial Planning major, who says she had “no idea” that her name would be called out at the event.
“I originally got nominated by Griffith, and about two or three weeks ago I found out I was a finalist, in the top three, which was really exciting,” she said. “I didn’t know that I was the winner until they announced it on stage. It was a huge shock to me.”
“It’s something that I honestly would never have dreamed of,” she continued. “For me, it was confirmation that I was in the right field, doing financial planning.
“In the last couple of years at Griffith, I’ve just had so many opportunities so, especially this year, I’ve thrown myself into every opportunity that comes to me. The award is just confirmation that it’s all paid off for me.”
“If I hadn’t attended Griffith, I wouldn’t be where I am at the moment.”
Azaria has only just finished her second year of a Bachelor of Commerce, but she’s already making an impact in her field of choice. Earlier this year, she was named the 2017 recipient of the Stonehouse Group Scholarship, has been involved in the Griffith Business School (GBS) Student Leadership Program, engaged in volunteering and gained practical work experience. Most of that, she says, she credits to the university’s strong ties to the financial planning space.
“Financial Planning isn’t offered at many universities; I think it’s offered at probably five universities Australia-wide,” Azaria said. “If I hadn’t attended Griffith, I wouldn’t be where I am at the moment. Especially Mark Brimble and the whole Financial Planning academic team, they’ve given us so many opportunities.
“Griffith just has so many programs that help you increase your confidence and encourage you to learn how to network, and all of those things have just made this so much more possible for me, and have made me a more confident and resilient person and student.”
When she’s not blitzing her studies, Azaria spends a portion of her spare time creating YouTube videos in an effort to educate young people about responsible money management in a digestible, entertaining and informative way, a pursuit that has also reinforced her belief that she’s on the right track.
“Making those videos has been really fulfilling,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of people message and tell me they’ve saved their first thousand dollars, or they’ve decided to cut up their credit card because they’ve been spending too much money, and things like that.
“In the future, financial advice needs to change, and I feel like Griffith students and young people are in the perfect place to facilitate that change. I’d love to see myself in five or 10 years doing my own thing and taking financial advice in a different way, with more interactive approaches and a more personalised approach.
“In the meantime, I’m just loving getting work experience, meeting all these amazing advisers and just learning so much from them.”