IU Southeast finance team scores second place at CFA Challenge

28th February 2020
Ryan Pyle, Mary Paul, Anne Cole, Andrew Utley with Elizabeth Reisz, faculty advisor, at the Pendennis Club in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Reisz.

By Steven Krolak

(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)—In a nail-biting double-overtime thriller, IU Southeast MBA students Ryan Pyle, Mary Paul, Anne Cole and Andrew Utley finished a strong second at the 2020 CFA Research Challenge regionals at the historic Pendennis Club in Louisville, Ky.

“I am so proud of how these students represented IU Southeast,” said Elizabeth Reisz, lecturer in finance and faculty advisor for the team. “They worked incredibly hard and did everything in their means to write and present their best work.”

This year’s edition of the annual event brought together seven teams from IU Southeast, the University of Louisville, Berea College, Centre College, and the University of Kentucky.

The CFA Research Challenge is an annual event organized by the CFA Institute, a global association of investment professionals that sets the standard for excellence in the industry for chartered financial analysts (CFAs).

The Challenge gathers students, investment industry professionals, publicly traded companies, and corporate sponsors together locally, regionally, and globally for a real-world competition, according to the Institute website.

Over the course of four months, student teams dissect a corporation and deliver an investment recommendation based on exhaustive research into corporate structure and performance, a site visit and face-to-face interview with corporate representatives, and best valuation practices.

In the real world, these recommendations help investors decide whether or not to purchase stock in a company, a decision that can make or lose fortunes for both parties.

This year’s focus was global automobile manufacturer and finance juggernaut Ford Motor Company.

Despite its iconic brand, this company’s actual performance has been less than stellar in recent years, the team noted. In particular, the team faulted the company for its slow response to the industry-wide paradigm shift to electric vehicles. In fact, Ford plans to remain committed to internal combustion, both alone an in hybrid versions, in its flagship truck division, which bodes ill for the competitiveness of the company, according to the IU Southeast team.

After its comprehensive examination, the IU Southeast team recommended that investors sell Ford stock.

Having submitted their recommendation in writing two weeks ago, they made their presentation at the competition on Thursday.

In a wild neck-and-neck contest, the Grenadiers tied for first place in the paper round with the graduate team from the University of Louisville, and held that position through the presentation. In the first tie-break, based on the presentation score, they deadlocked again, then came up just short in the second tie-break, based on the the ​financial analysis score.

The IU Southeast team was advised by Reisz and mentored by industry veteran Jeffrey B. Hoskins, CFA, senior equity research analyst at River Road Asset Management in Louisville, Ky.

While Reisz helped the students sharpen their focus and pointed them to supporting research for their recommendation, Hoskins provided expert feedback on their arguments.

Hoskins feels the team should be extremely proud of its accomplishment.

“I was lucky to have a front row seat to witness a remarkable progression, from rough draft to a polished  paper and presentation,” Hoskins said. “It’s amazing what they accomplished in such a short time, all driven by hard work and passion!”

Homepage photo (l-r): Ryan Pyle, Mary Paul, Anne Cole and Andrew Utley. Photo by Elizabeth Reisz.

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