A Competition Like No Other

Thursday, March 11, 2021
by Anna S., AFM student

Competing on a virtual provincial stage at the CFA Institute Research Challenge

Five months and hundreds of hours

Photo of Anna
 on video calls later, I can confidently say that the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute Research Challenge (CFA IRC) has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of thus far. Participating in this competition was an opportunity to represent the School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) and the University of Waterloo on a global stage, learn from the best, and become an expert on one special company: Empire Company Limited. While we faced our fair share of ups and downs, there were a few aspects that were key to our success:

1. Mastering work-from-home

Even though our team had previously worked together in-person on the Student Investment Fund more than a year prior, we had little experience completing case competitions from our own homes, let alone a five-month case competition as rigorous as the CFA IRC. We grew accustomed to online collaborating and spent hours over Zoom brainstorming, strategizing, and running through our report and presentation with a fine-tooth comb. While we would have much preferred an in-person experience, our transition to a virtual workspace was luckily seamless – each team member was just a click-of-a-button away.

2. Great team chemistry

There is no doubt that participating in the CFA IRC requires a huge level of commitment, which makes teamwork crucial. With some of us in school and on co-op terms, we managed to work around our different schedules with transparent communication and immense dedication to the competition. We complemented one another, challenged one another, and looked to each other for strength and support. Although we ultimately spent more of our free time on this competition than we’d like to admit, we had a really fun time and wouldn’t have done it any other way.

3. Unconditional support

We’d like to thank our Faculty Mentor, Steve Balaban, and Industry Mentor, Jeannine LiChong, for pointing us in the right direction, being our biggest supporters, and lifting us up every step of the way. And not to mention, the countless University of Waterloo Alumni and industry experts who have kindly offered their time and expertise to help prepare us for this competition. Whether it be through touch points or mock presentations leading up to the day of the presentation, we were prepared to answer any questions that came our way because of the help from SAF faculty and alumni! We could not have made it this far without the unwavering support from all those who have had a hand in our CFA IRC journey.