Whitman Team Earns Highest Placement in 10 Years for CFA Institute Research Challenge

A team of five students from the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University placed second in their bracket in the CFA Institute Research Challenge in February. This is the highest placement that the Whitman School has had in the competition in the past 10 years. 

The annual competition is a “global equity research competition [which] provides university students with hands-on mentoring and intensive training in financial analysis. Working in teams, students gain real-world experience as they assume the role of research analysts and are judged on their ability to value a stock, write a research report, and present their recommendations.”

Though the teams can be made up of both undergraduate and graduate students, undergraduates represented Whitman this year. In fact, the group was the only one in its division that did not include graduate students. The team consisted of Andrew Hollander ’22, Aidan Karaba ’24, Michael Kelleher ’21, Kurtis Roethlisberger ’24 and team captain Alex Rickard ’23. 

“Things were more challenging with an all online format,” Rickard says. “When it comes to big writing and presentation challenges like this, it is usually easier and more collaborative when you can come to the Whitman School, sit down as a team and figure things out rather than having to find a time on Zoom for everyone to sit down at once.”

Tom Barkley, director of the M.S. in Finance Program and professor of finance practice, advised the team throughout the competition and says that the online format was not a detriment to the students’ performance. “I think the students adapted very well to the online format. They were able to attend virtual meetings with the Research Challenge organizers and with the executives of the company that was analyzed. They also made their final presentation via Zoom, and that went well,” he explains.

The competition allowed the students to gain practical experience in finance in a variety of ways. “The interesting thing about equity research is how multifaceted and expansive the reports are,” Rickard explains. “We had to build financial models, conduct industry analysis, analyze commodity prices, run regression models, make tons of visual graphics and, in general come, up with a thesis as to why we think this company will do well or do poorly in the future.”

In the end, hard work, collaboration and the use of the skills learned at the Whitman School paid off, as the team placed second in the competition. 

Learn more about the finance program at Whitman. 

Mallory Carlson
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