Students make regional finals in CFA Research Challenge

Submitted by Carolyn Arnold on May 15, 2012

(L-R): Chris Kittredge, Aaron Cha, Dr. Bardos, Spenser Allaway, Glen Proto, and Max Macauda

Five dedicated students from the Charles F. Dolan School of Business spent countless hours outside of class to research, analyze, and present a financial report on a publically traded company to a panel of expert financial professionals for the Certified Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute Research Challenge in New York City. Their commitment paid off – this year was Fairfield’s first time making it to the competitive regional finals, placing in the top 4 among 23 university teams.

The CFA, which is a global association of investment professionals, hosts the international competition every year. The equity research competition tests students’ skills on analysis, valuation, report writing, and presentation skills. Nearly 2,500 students from over 800 universities in 45 countries have participated.

The Dolan School team consisted of M.S. Finance student Max Macauda, and undergraduates Spenser Allaway ’12, Aaron Chan ’12, Chris Kittredge ’12, and Glen Proto ’12. Dr. Katsiaryna Bardos, assistant professor of finance, served as the team’s faculty mentor.

Proto, a finance major and double minor in mathematics and economics, described the challenge as a wonderful opportunity that tied his entire classroom learning together in a practical way. “Being able to work on a professional financial analyst report with four other extremely talented people was very rewarding. I highly recommend this competition to anyone interested in business as the fundamental skills you will pick up are invaluable in today’s tough job market.”

The students researched, analyzed, and prepared a 10-page report on the company, Micros, Inc., a publicly traded business. As part of the challenge, teams met with the company’s management and with a CFA charterholder who reviewed and critiqued their report. Following the written report, teams presented their work to a panel of experts from top financial institutions.

Fairfield first became involved in the CFA challenge in 2008. Dr. Salavei said, “Brian Stype ’99, introduced Fairfield to this exciting competition when he was running the competition at New York Society of Security Analysts, which is New York’s chapter of CFA institute.”  Dr. Bardos’ personal research interests include firm valuation, so she was the natural choice for faculty advisor.

Dr. Bardos spoke highly of the program. “Fairfield’s participation in the competition allows students to apply skills they learn in the classroom to a challenging real world problem and to benchmark themselves against students from other excellent universities. The judges remarked that the level of analysis by the teams was comparable to what analysts on Wall Street do. I think reaching the final four is a great accomplishment for our team.”

Macauda, a graduate student, noted that he saw the CFA Challenge as the culmination of his master’s degree. “I felt honored to compete alongside some of the best business schools in the nation. Both the Fairfield mentors and NYSSA personnel were very helpful throughout the whole process and made sure we had enough direction to complete the competition. I would recommend it to anyone looking to gain more experience in investment research and really enjoyed it from start to finish.”

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