The School of Accounting and Finance's (SAF) sixth Annual Investment Research Challenge proved to be another memorable experiential opportunity for SAF students. Serving as a training ground for students who have gone on to win external competitions, including the global championship for the 2016 CFA Research Challenge, 18 student teams competed in July for a top prize of $2,000.
Opened to upper-year undergraduate SAF students and to Master of Accounting (MAcc) students, teams were assigned one of four publicly-traded common stock to analyze and defend its buy/hold/sell recommendation. Four finalist teams were selected based on their research, analysis, presentation, and how well they responded in a Q&A session.
These top four teams advanced to the final round which required each team to present and answer questions from an industry panel of judges. The teams were ranked based only on their performance in the final round.
The winning team of Jason Fu (3B Math/CPA), Jonathan Hui (3B AFM), Peter Huang (3B, CFM), and Christina Liu (3B, CFM), was assigned Enerplus Corporation, which proved to be challenging at first.
Oil and gas is a bit of a specialized industry and none of us had any prior background in that sector,” admitted Jonathan. "The team tackled the challenge by leveraging skills they developed through their various experiences in the Student Investment Fund, Student Venture Fund and past case competitions to enable them to research and gain a fundamental understanding of the industry.
Jason outlined his team’s winning strategy as “...learning the nuances of the business and industry, to be able to identify the appropriate valuation metrics and methods to focus on. It was important that we kept an open mind throughout the valuation exercise without any preconceived notion of a buy, hold or sell recommendation. This helped us craft defensible and unbiased assumptions. In the end, we were able to achieve a beautiful harmony between the numbers and the story we wanted to tell.”
As expected, the learning outcomes for the student teams were valuable and directly applicable to their programs and beyond. “Overall, I was really surprised at how much I was able to learn about a completely new industry in the span of a few days. Being able to digest and analyze large amounts of information in a short amount of time is a skill I picked up that I will definitely carry with me to my next co-op term,” summarized Jonathan.
For Jason, he felt that “in addition to broadening our understanding of finance, the Investment Research Challenge was invaluable in terms of developing our team work skills. Just like in Mergers & Acquisitions, the goal was to make 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 greater than 4 by taking advantage of synergies. We were fortunate to have a team comprised of members from different academic programs and co-op backgrounds. By playing to each other’s strengths and efficiently deploying a divide and conquer strategy, we were able to put together a solid work product despite being under time pressure. I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in the Investment Research Challenge and for the network of alumni that continues to invest time in our success.”
For Peter, the challenge of tight deadlines that mirrored real-world financial cultures was rewarding. “Our team learned how to handle learning on a steep curve while being on a tight deadline. The oil and gas industry was completely new to all of us, and tackling this project taught us many soft and hard skills to take on for future competitions and projects. At the end of day, many projects you take on in school, work, and like won’t be a walk in the park. This experience taught me to not let a steep learning curve hold you back.”
The SAF is grateful for the continued support by Anish Chopra for this annual event.
2018 Investment Research Challenge Finalist Teams:
Winning Team: Prize $2,000
Jason Fu (Math CPA - 3B),
Assigned Stock: Enerplus
Second Place: Prize $1,000
Jasper Lam (AFM - 4A),
Assigned stock: Linamar Corporation
Third Place: Prize $750
Brendan Mick (Math-CPA - 2B), Angela Yan (AFM - 2B),
Assigned stock: Cineplex Inc.
Fourth Place: Prize $250
Raghav Gupta (AFM - 3B),
Assigned stock: ATS Automation Tooling Systems Inc.
2018 Investment Research Challenge Industry Panel Judges:
From left to right:
- Steve Balaban, Chief Investment Officer, Mink Capital and Lecturer, School of Accounting and Finance, University of Waterloo
- Michael Wang, Investment Associate, Relationship Investing, Ontario Techers’ Pension Plan
- Daniel Lee, Entrepreneur, Equity Analyst, Mawer Investment Management
- Nitish Sharma, Analyst, InstarAGF Asset Management Inc.
- Andy Wang, Vice President Finance, Forma AI