How We Made it to the Global Finals

Tuesday, May 11, 2021
by Noah Y., Brendan M., Anna S.

Preparation, presentation, and a little help along the way

After five rounds of elimination, our CFA Institute Research Challenge (IRC) team moved on to the Global Finals, making us the only 3-person team and the third Canadian team in history to make it to the top 5 worldwide. It was a long journey, but the three of us agree that there is nothing we would change if we had to do it all over again.

School & Extracurricular Involvement

cfa irc team
Courses are great for teaching the concepts, but the real learning happens beyond the classroom. The three of us were part of the Student Investment Fund (SIF) for multiple terms and competed in a handful of stock pitch competitions, which all proved to be invaluable experience for this challenge.

“SIF is an incredible stepping-stone to prepare you for more opportunities.”

- Noah Yabrov

Research Report

The 30-page written component of the competition made up 50% of our score for the first three rounds of the competition, so we wanted it to knock the judges’ socks off. For an entire month, we were putting in upwards of 100 hours per week to make sure the written report was perfect. Some of us even volunteered to work on Christmas Day. 

“When you truly enjoy your work, it doesn’t feel like work.”

- Brendan Mick

Presentation Preparation

With the research report complete and submitted, we immediately started working on our 10‑minute presentation. Although a portion of it was recycled from our written submission, there were still dozens of presentation slides that needed designing, hundreds of appendix slides that needed creating, and an entire presentation script that needed editing. Even once those boxes were checked off, we continued to fine-tune our presentation and Q&A through roughly 30 mock presentations with faculty, alumni and industry professionals.

“Near the end, we had an answer prepared for just about every possible question a judge could ask.”

- Anna Shen


Eight months of hard work later, we found ourselves representing Canada and the Americas on the global stage against the best of the best. It looks like the crossed fingers and wood-knocking really paid off. We are extremely proud of our achievement and thankful for everyone who supported us along the way, especially Steve Balaban (Faculty Advisor) and Jeannine LiChong (Industry Mentor).

“I don’t know if you realize this, but the world is a big place. There are thousands of schools that compete around the globe, and you are among the top five. That’s crazy!”

Steve Balaban, Faculty Advisor