The road to regionals

Mitchell’s experience competing at the CFA Institute Research Challenge

The CFA Institute Research Challenge (IRC) is a global competition that offers university students one-on-one mentoring and training in financial analysis and professional ethics. Each student is tested on their analytical, valuation, report writing, and presentation skills. The competitors gain real-world experience as they assume the role of research analysts.

Mitchell, a 4th year AFM student met with SAF to talk about his experience with this program and how it prepared him for the recent CFA IRC.

mitchellWhy did you get involved with this competition, and why this competition specifically?

In 2016, when I was in first year, the Waterloo CFA IRC team won the global championship. They beat out over 1,000 universities around the world and became the first Canadian team to ever win the competition – putting Waterloo on the map. As a first year, it was truly inspiring to me to know how much commitment and dedication was required to make it that far.

Luckily for me, through the Fellowship Program, I was actually connected with one of the members of the 2016 winning team, and he served as a huge mentor for me throughout first year. Fast forward a few years later, I was offered the opportunity to lead the 2020 CFA IRC team as captain and I knew right away it was a once in a lifetime experience that I just couldn’t pass up.

How have your academic, and experiential opportunities prepared you for this competition?

I would say it ultimately boiled down to three things. The first being academic courses such as AFM 273, 274, and 373, which all provided the technical knowledge and insights. The second was the Student Investment Fund that I participated in for over four terms, most recently serving as Chief Investment Officer which forced me to think from a total portfolio perspective. Through the Fund, I was able to hone my skills in presentation, pitching, as well as fundamental analysis. Lastly, doing similar case competitions such as the Investment Research Challenge (a competition SAF hosts annually) helped prepare our team for this global competition.

What do you think your team did differently that made the difference between winning the Regionals and not winning?

It was the hard work and commitment that our team put in which ultimately made the difference. This project was eight-months long beginning in September during the fall. Our team members during that time were either on co-op or exchange and so it took a lot of planning and dedication for us all to stay connected. Whether it was through phone meetings, messaging platforms, or discussions on the weekend – we always found a way to get the job done.

I think this really speaks to the strength of our chemistry and the trust that we have in each other. We never actually sat in a room together in person until the final weeks leading up to the competition! Crazy right?

How do you balance your academics with extracurriculars like this competition?

Balancing everything including school, work, and this competition, was not an easy task. However, the biggest thing that helped us was prioritization and time management. I remember during my work term, I would actually fit in industry calls over my lunch break to conduct primary research. So ultimately, it was being able to dedicate time in our schedule to work on the competition. It didn't feel like a chore or homework to us because it was something we were happy to do and passionate about. That's why it was a challenge we were able to naturally overcome.

Read about Mitchell's journey to the CFA big stage.