More Than Just a Stock Pitch

Lessons learned through the CFA Institute Research Challenge

Throughout my time at the University of Waterloo, I have had a variety of learning opportunities, both in the classroom and through extracurricular involvement. However, no lessons come close to those learned competing in the CFA Institute Research Challenge (IRC). Our SAF team (consisting of myself, Anna S. and Noah Y.) recently won the local CFA IRC Challenge in February and are moving on to the next stage of the competition!

Brendan M. MAcc studentMy key takeaways so far:

  1. The Big Picture

At its core, the CFA IRC is a stock pitch competition, which means you have to know how to build, present and defend your valuation. That being said, it’s so much more than that. Above and beyond your valuation, you have to fully understand the business and its strategy. Put yourself in the shoes of the CEO and ask yourself how the company is going to unlock value for investors. What truly makes a team stand out is their ability to tie it all together, linking every qualitative factor of the business to the quantitative projections and backing up every argument with in-depth analyses.

  1. Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day

Although most of the work takes place during the compilation stage, there is still lots of work performed beforehand. Thankfully, we front-loaded as much research as possible which ultimately led us to have more in-depth analyses ready for the compilation stage. Had we waited until December to start working on this, there’s no way we could’ve pulled it off.

  1. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

I cannot emphasize how vital our strong team chemistry was to our success. We each had complementary skill sets and pushed one another to keep moving forward, which ultimately led to a final product that was so often discussed internally that we were ready for any questions the judges might’ve had. While there’s always room for improvement, this competition has taught me team management skills that will stick with me for life (along with my new friendships).

  1. Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Even if we were just three students, there were countless individuals cheering us on behind the scenes. We’re so grateful for the support we received from UW alumni and faculty, not to mention how understanding our friends and family members were (we all sacrificed a large portion of our social life, if not all of it). Of all the supporters, our deepest gratitude goes out to lecturer Steve Balaban (our faculty advisor) and Jeannine LiChong (our industry mentor). Whether it was spontaneous late-night phone calls to go over heated debates or to hype us up before the stressful presentations, they were always there for us. We couldn’t have done it without them. Thank you both so much!

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