The Financial Planning Association of Australia The Financial Planning Association of Australia

Queenslanders take out top FPA academic achievement awards


The Financial Planning Association of Australia (FPA), today named Queenslanders Natalie Cross of Griffith University as the winner of the FPA University Student of the Year Award and Sunitha Chamala from BDO as the latest winner of the Gwen Fletcher Memorial Award.

The FPA University Student of the Year Award is a new category in the FPA Awards program. The accolade recognises finance students who demonstrate strong potential in the areas of accounting, banking and finance. The hotly contested Gwen Fletcher Memorial Award honours the highest achieving student in the CFP® Certification Program.

Mark Rantall, CEO of the FPA, said the awards were in line with the ‘Shaping Futures’ theme for this year’s FPA Professionals Congress in Brisbane. “Ms Cross and Ms Chamala represent the future of our industry, with their proven commitment to high education standards, their professional attitudes and their focus on quality and excellence.

“Both are outstanding award recipients who will help lead their generation of professional financial planners to new heights of community recognition and respect,” he said.

Having recently graduated from Griffith University with a Bachelor of Commerce (Professional) and a double major of Financial Planning and Accounting, Natalie Cross now works with an independent financial planning company in Brisbane.

While studying, she interned with a financial planning company where she gained insights into the positive impact that high quality financial advice can have on clients and the work that went into implementing advice behind the scenes to achieve this.

Natalie achieved the highest overall result in the ‘Financial Planning, Construction and Review’ course at Griffith University.

Speaking about her win, Natalie remarked: “Thank you to the FPA for this award. This accolade has made me more excited and motivated about my journey to becoming a financial planner.”

Gwen Fletcher Memorial Award winner, Sunitha Chamala, was the highest performing student in the CFP® Certification Program this semester.

The CFP® Certification Assessment unit requires students to develop a comprehensive financial plan based on a real life scenario and a three-hour technical exam. Sunitha achieved excellent results in all aspects of the assessment. She currently works as an Associate Wealth Adviser in Brisbane and is part of BDO’s Private Wealth Advisers team.
Mark Rantall concluded “The final unit of the CFP® Certification Program is highly competitive, therefore to receive the Gwen Fletcher Memorial Award is a major achievement.

Sunitha was excited to learn of her win: “What an unexpected surprise! I am greatly honoured to receive this award and I am proud to hold the CFP® designation. I look forward to continuing my professional development and will endeavour to uphold the high ethical and practice standards of the program throughout my career.”

The awards were presented during the FPA Professionals Congress in Brisbane.