Through providing training and business connections to students, Auburn University’s Financial Management Association is in its third year of giving students a head start in their career.
This year, 18 FMA members have graduated from Auburn, and their average starting salary is almost $94,000. The average starting salary for Auburn business graduates is around $55,000.
“If you think about the difference in the top students and where the average finance student is,” Carr said. “I believe that a large portion of that nearly $40,000 difference is from value that FMA added.”
Tracy Richards, a lecturer for the school of business and faculty adviser to FMA, talks highly of the program.
“We had a lot of talented students that were highly interested in careers in finance, but we didn’t have a solid vehicle for getting them there,” Richards said. “I get a call at least once a week from an Auburn alumni who wants to turn around and help finance students successfully navigate a career.”
FMA was established in 1970, and the organization is now comprised of over 3,300 members.
“When the group here at Auburn was started, the thought was make it a chapter of a national organization to give it brand recognition while it starts off,” said Jordan Carr, president and senior in mechanical engineering. “People in New York and in Charlotte and LA, they hear FMA, they’ve heard of it before. It’s not some new club at Auburn.”
Carr said that FMA focuses on recruiting freshman and sophomore students to have sufficient time to prepare them for graduation.
“The idea is that we’ll probably keep it between 50 and 60 [members] for the coming years just because once you get too big, you dilute the effect of the training and resources that you offer,” Carr said.
Members do not need to be a part of the school of finance to join FMA. Currently, 20 percent of FMA members are a part of the school of engineering.
“They’re interested in finance, and they’re willing to put in the work to get to next level – those are the two big things that we look for in applicants,” Carr said. “They’re clearly interested in the topic, they want to put in work to be successful and be competitive in these career paths, and also they have the academics to back that up”
FMA meets at least once every two weeks to listen to a financial sector professional speak and they host a variety of other events throughout the year.
“The resources that we offer includes training, we bring a company down from New York twice a year to do training for our students, we have a mentorship program, we do case competitions,” Carr said. “There’s a lot of stuff that we do. You wouldn’t get that through the college of business.”
Carr said that, with the organization being fairly new, they are always trying to find new learning opportunities for members.
“Every year there’s been a pretty substantial bit of new initiatives,” Carr said. “This past year alone, we hosted our first financial leadership summit.”
Speakers at the summit included Auburn alumni and Delta’s CFO Paul Jacobson, Raymond Harbert, Steven Aldridge and several other alumni.
“The idea is that with FMA you really receive support in two different ways, there’s the industry exposure where FMA as an organization tries to help you find out what area of finance you want to pursue,” Carr said. “Once you figure that out, using senior mentors and online training courses and resources that FMA provides, how can you be competitive so that you can get an internship and ultimately a full-time job.”
Richards said Auburn is not an investment banking school, and this put Auburn graduates at a disadvantage when going against schools like Harvard and Stanford who have specialized course for students interested in financial banking.
“What [Auburn students] really needed was just additional resources, everything from what’s important in an interview, what you need to cover, to additional skills like evaluation skills, modeling skills,” Richards said. We didn’t have a modeling class available.”
FMA also competes in case of competitions every year where students develop a business solution to solve a case study of a business model. Last year, Auburn’s FMA placed top three in a Duff and Phelps case study competition, and team members will be flying to NYC this spring to present their project to company executives.
“I joined FMA kind of as a freshman who is energetic and had some time to devout toward kind of something, but I didn’t know what,” said Jimmy Brewster, sophomore in finance.
Brewster is interning in NYC for the spring semester, and he has already secured another internship in NYC for this upcoming summer.
“One of the biggest things that FMA has given me is they’re genuinely excited and interested in my career and my success,” Brewster said. “I think that’s one thing that is kind of commonly overlooked is that Tracy and Jordan and the members of this organization care so much about each other’s success."