A team of Orfalea College of Business students won the Northern California Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Investment Research Challenge sponsored by the CFA Society of San Francisco.
The students competed against teams from 12 Bay Area universities, including graduate and undergraduate programs from Santa Clara, St. Mary’s, San Jose State, Hult International Business School and UC Santa Cruz. The competitors were charged with analyzing and making buy/sell/hold recommendations for Salesforce.com, a cloud computing company headquartered in San Francisco. A panel of industry professionals and CFA charter holders judged the presentations.
Finance students Benjamin Consoli of Redwood City, Adam Pasco of Burbank, Kian Ramezani of San Luis Obispo, Coby Snyder and economics major Mason McCloskey of San Luis Obispo represented Cal Poly. Finance Professor Cyrus Ramezani and finance alumnus Scott B. Kirk served as team advisors.
Cal Poly alumni David Dudek, Aaron Hay, Dario Buechi, Joey Guerra, Stephen Marotto, Alyssa Gustafson and Paul Boortz supported the team by critiquing its presentation prior to the final competition and made time to cheer on Cal Poly.
The Cal Poly team will advance to the Americas Regional competition in Boston on March 19 and 20, where they will compete against 55 universities from the U.S., Canada and Latin America.
More than 5,000 students representing over 1,000 teams from universities in more than 80 countries have been a part of the 2018 competition. It provides university students with hands-on mentoring and intensive training in financial analysis. Students work in teams to research and analyze a publicly traded company. Each team writes a research report on their assigned company with a buy, sell or hold recommendation and then presents and defends their analysis to a panel of industry professionals.
For more information about the competition, visit http://cfa-sf.org/page/EventsIRC.
Investing is no easy feat. Whether you’re a veteran or new to the game, the financial market is often unpredictable and presents a precarious landscape. However, with risks come rewards, as a group of Cal Poly students have discovered. Over the course of this last year, a group of Cal Poly finance students have been responsible for investing hundreds of thousands of dollars of real money into the financial market. Through the hands-on Student Managed Portfolio Project (SMPP), this group has put Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing philosophy to the test.
For a select group of senior finance students, the SMPP provides the ability to experience the ups and downs of an ever-changing stock market and the responsibility of managing nearly half a million dollars of Corporation funds with the goal of beating the returns on the VIG Dividend Appreciation Index by 1 percent per year. This year also presented an interesting challenge, as geopolitical changes like the U.S. presidential election provided many uncertainties for the team to face.
To begin the year, the group assessed the portfolio from the previous year to determine their starting point. Tasked with making real-time market decisions, each student was then assigned a company’s stock and had to closely monitor its earning reports, market conditions and analyst reports. Students also had to stay up-to-date on changes in the election and legislation, as its unpredictability presented potential risk to the market. After Trump’s election, the team had to consider the effects of his plans for corporate tax cuts and border-adjustment tax on their assigned companies.
With the responsibility of handling over a half a million dollars, every decision made was important. In spring quarter, Orfalea College of Business students Brandon Becker, Greg Benedikt, Jordan Smith, Koll Roberts, and Dario Buechi (featured above) presented the class’s outcomes to the Cal Poly Corporation’s Board of Directors on this year’s investments. As a class, the students decided to liquidate a third of their assets to cash as a precautionary move in case there would be any serious pullback in the market from the election. Over time, however, they came to realize they had missed some opportunity as the market instead remained stable or even benefited after the election. While their hesitancy in the market may have caused for some missed opportunity, the team still managed to gain a 7.01 percent return on this year’s portfolio, which beat the VIG Appreciation ETF by .38 percent. Orfalea College of Business students Brandon Becker, Greg Benedikt, Jordan Smith, Koll Roberts, and Dario Buechi (featured above) presented the class’s outcomes to the Cal Poly Corporation’s Board of Directors on this year’s investments.
“This was truly Learn by Doing,” said Greg Benedikt, one of this year’s SMPP students. “When thousands of dollars are on the line, due diligence is extremely important and the real money aspect added excitement to each decision we made as a class.”
The Orfalea College of Business has conducted the SMPP as the capstone experience in the finance concentration since 1992. Led by Professor Cyrus Ramezani, the class follows a real-world relationship between a client (the Corporation) and its adviser (the SMPP students).
Looking towards the future, the team’s goal is to invest the leftover cash from their liquidated assets. This will provide students who inherit the portfolio next year with an excellent starting place.
A team of Cal Poly business and economics students took second place in the local Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute Research Challenge in Los Angeles.
Cal Poly students competed against teams from USC, Loyola Marymount University, Pepperdine University and Claremont McKenna College on March 3. The teams had to create a valuation report and make investment recommendations on retailer Bed Bath & Beyond. A panel of industry professionals and CFA charter holders judged the presentations.
Cal Poly’s team lost to USC by half a point in the final round. Cal Poly teams have won the past three local CFA Institute Research Challenge competitions.
This year’s team included economics student Brandon Becker (Las Vegas, Nev.); and finance students: Dario Buechi (Berkley, Calif.); Jessica Kramer (Westlake Village, Calif.); Jordan Smith (Palo Alto, Calif.); and Greg Benedikt (Bend. Ore.). Finance Professor Cyrus Ramezani, who also serves as interim Agribusiness Department chair, advised the students. Scott B. Kirk, a 2005 business administration alumnus and partner at City Capital Management, acted as an industry mentor to the students.
The CFA Institute Research Challenge provides an opportunity for students to learn from industry experts and compete with other top finance programs. The event promotes best practices in equity research among the next generation of analysts through hands-on mentoring and intensive training in company analysis and presentation skills. Participants are introduced to and held to the standard of the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct.
For more information about the CFA Institute Research Challenge, visit: https://www.cfainstitute.org/community/challenge/Pages/index.aspx.
In August, six Orfalea College of Business students, faculty members SiSi Pouraghabagher and Sharon Dobson, and Assistant Dean Mary Kelting, and Dean’s Advisory Council Member Ann Ozzimo attended a conference hosted by Oracle. Finance junior Catherine Ryan talks about her experience hearing from high-powered speakers and looking forward to her own transition to the working world.
In early August I was invited, along with fellow finance students Hannah Egan, Annie Wilson, Morgan Kavanagh, Hannah Poplack, and Nicole Fetsch, to the Oracle Conference Center in Redwood Shores to attend Diversity, Education, and Analytical Innovation in Finance. The TED-talk style event, put on by Oracle’s Financial Executives International Silicon Valley Chapter, featured a networking session with Oracle employees and invited guests, followed by three powerful speeches on the aforementioned topics.
The event sought to bridge business intelligence with emotional intelligence, how external success compounded with internal cohesion makes for a better company. I found this best personified in the talk by Barbara Williams Hardy, the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Oracle, on Leveraging Inclusive Leadership to Unlock Innovation, where she highlighted the dangers of unconscious bias in the workplace, and how better leadership in cultivated within a team.
When she posed the question “what is inclusion?” to the group, a man in the middle of the audience yells back, “quotas!” While many shifted uneasily at this answer, Barbara laughed and explained how this is exactly why we need events like this; to bring to light preconceived notions that prevent companies from operating at their highest efficiency. As a woman in finance, I fully understand what a hindrance biases can create in a work environment; we have all aired our grievances over the lack of women in tech and leadership roles, but luckily companies like Oracle are actively working to change that. Through their new experimental public high school Design Tech High School (or d.tech), located on their headquarters campus, Oracle is directly combating the drop off in interest in more technical fields through coding and engineering classes. By cultivating confidence in young students while promoting company-wide inclusion, Oracle creates a winning situation for employees, students, and those of us ready for a change in the status quo.
An incredible experience for any student, this event not only educated its attendees on current events in finance, but allowed for an expanded conversation; as a soon-to-be college grad, I am interested not only in the opportunities at a company, but also my place in it. This event provided insight into the other side, how internal changes make massive waves in a company’s external influence, and how to stay competitive in an ever-changing financial climate.
From left to right: Scott Kirk (mentor), David Larsen (mentor), Phil Cohl (mentor), Erin Averill, Robert Ricci, Finance area Chair Cyrus Ramezani, Divyan Waland, Aaron Hay, and Nate Fisher.
A team of Cal Poly Orfalea College of Business students has won the local CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) Institute Research Challenge for the second consecutive year.
Finance seniors Erin Averill, Robert Ricci, Divyan Waland, Aaron Hay and Nate Fisher represented Cal Poly at the event in Los Angeles. The students were advised by Finance Area Chair Cyrus Ramezani, San Luis Obispo financial advisor Phillip Cohl, and 2005 Cal Poly finance alumnus and CFA charter holder Scott B. Kirk. David Larsen, 2014 information systems alumnus and captain of last year’s winning team, also advised the group.
The Cal Poly students competed against teams from the College of the Canyons, Claremont Graduate University, UC Santa Barbara, and USC. The competing teams were charged with analyzing and making buy/sell/hold recommendations for The Walt Disney Company.
Cal Poly’s team now advances to the Americas Regional competition in April in Atlanta, where it will compete against universities from the U.S., Canada and Latin America. The winners of the three regional competitions (Americas; Europe, the Middle East, and Africa; and Asia Pacific) will compete in the Global Final.
“This was a true team effort – our success is the result of more than 300 hours of focused research and analysis from our students,” said Ramezani. “I feel our second consecutive win is a tribute to our finance faculty who provide the educational challenges that enable our students to shine in this competition. We’re proud to represent Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing philosophy in Atlanta.”
The CFA Institute Research Challenge provides an opportunity for students to learn from industry experts and compete with other top finance programs. The event promotes best practices in equity research among the next generation of analysts through hands-on mentoring and intensive training in company analysis and presentation skills. All participants are introduced to and held to the standard of the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct.
Watch a video of team members Ricci and Hay discuss the competition here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFP53KuL0vg.
For more information about the CFA Institute Research Challenge, go to cfainstitute.org/community/challenge/Pages/index.aspx.