The CFA IRC is a marathon, not a sprint

Tuesday, April 13, 2021
by Noah Y., AFM student

How our team reached the finish line and advanced to the CFA Americas Regional Semi-Finals

Photo of Noah
For most of us, when we ask ourselves why we went to university the overarching answer is to better prepare us for the real world. To do so, we must experience personal and professional development. During my time at the University of Waterloo, I have found that while school, extra-curricular activities, and co-op experience are all critical components to one’s learning, competitions cannot be overlooked. Participating in the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute Research Challenge (CFA IRC) has been an incredible experience and allowed me to combine the knowledge and skills I have gained over the past few years.

Reflecting on my experience thus far, my takeaways from the CFA IRC can best be summarized as the following:

Consistency: this experience can best be described as a marathon, not a sprint. Although we were all excited for the opportunity to participate and eager to start working, it was important for us to remember that this would last for months. To succeed, we were forced to throttle our excitement, learn to pace ourselves and prioritize consistent efforts to avoid burning out in only a few weeks.

Fine-tooth comb: we scrutinized every aspect of our report, slide deck, and presentation and debated each word, graph, table, and picture. One thing I noticed through this process was just how many spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkwardly worded sentences we had through our initial drafts. It highlighted the importance of reviewing your work with a fine-tooth comb to ensure everything is perfect.

Adversity: as a result of both internal and external factors, our team faced a plethora of challenges that we had to overcome. For instance, four days before one of the deadlines, the company we were covering, Empire Company Limited (TSX:EMP.A), acquired Longos, a grocery store chain, and Grocery Gateway, a grocery e-commerce platform. This sparked over 10 hours of calls over the next two days learning about the acquisition, understanding the implications to the company and its strategy, and determining if and how it would fit into our pitch. Without fail, each time a new challenge arose, the incredible teammates I was fortunate enough to work with embraced the problem and dedicated their time to solving it. The ability to persevere as the company and the industry landscape changed over the six months we covered it was imperative to an end product we were all proud of.

Ultimately, none of this was possible without the incredible support from our industry and faculty mentors, Jeannine LiChong and Steve Balaban. We cannot thank you enough.

To other students reading this, I cannot stress enough how fun, informative, and rewarding competitions are, and highly recommend participating when possible.