CFA Institute Research Challenge 2018
Students of BSc Economic and Financial Mathematics come in 3rd in the prestigious Research Challenge contest organized by the International CFA Institute
By: Igor Melicherčík
On February 6, 2018, the International CFA Institute at the University of Economics in Prague hosted the 8th edition of the local finals of the Research Challenge contest. Our faculty was represented by a team of five students of the third year of Economic and Financial Mathematics program: Matúš Bagin, Adam Fajkus, Juraj Hanuš, Jakub Hrbáň and Mário Igaz. Out of all the competing teams from Czech and Slovak universities, they managed to place third overall.
The organizer of the contest is the world-renowned CFA institute which, apart from offering a number of programs for students, also gives the opportunity to earn the Chartered Financial Analyst credential - one of the most globally recognised designations in the world‘s investment community and a gold standard for anyone planning a career in this industry. Obtaining the certificate requires passing a total of three exams in investment management, financial analysis, stocks, bonds, financial derivatives, and financial ethics. In order to promote the Institute, CFA Research Challenge is also organised among students. The first prize in the local round, in addition to qualifying the winner to compete in one of the global rounds, gives them the chance to take the first exam free of charge.
This year, the competition was attended by 11 universities from the Czech Republic and Slovakia, each of which could only be represented by one team of 3-5 members. Students were asked to prepare a comprehensive financial analysis of a company publicly traded on the stock exchange, which was selected in advance.
The company selected for analysis this year was Strabag SE. Students first developed a report in English to be submitted by 21 December 2017. This comprised, in addition to the company analysis and financial analysis, valuation, risk assessment, sector analysis and overall macroeconomic analysis. Students were then expected to write a recommendation for potential purchasers (Buy / Hold / Sell). The report was successfully completed by seven teams, which were subsequently invited to Prague, where they were required to give a presentation followed up by questions from the jury composed of real experts with experience in the field.
After the presentations, our team ranked second, when they also coped with the aforementioned questions. This year, however, for the first time in the competition’s history, apart from the presentation, the overall ranking was also determined by the points for the report in a 1: 1 ratio. Our students eventually placed third, which was, in their words, slightly better than they had expected.
"We are certainly happy we have placed third, even though immediately after the presentation, we secretly hoped for a better result. Despite literally hundreds of hours spent in preparation, we are glad we have taken part in the contest and see it as a valuable experience, as it is, at least in part, a real application of what we learn in college. Our thanks mainly go to doc. Mgr. Igor Melicherčík, PhD; Dr. Zuzana Chladná and, in particular, to Marcel Imrišek, who, in the role of our Industry Mentor, gave us valuable advice in preparing the analysis. Our gratitude also extends to Tomáš Hrbáč and the entire CFA Society, Czech Republic, for organizing this great competition," concluded the students.