CFA Global Investment Research Challenge
On 9th December four students, enrolled in the Master of Financial Analysis programme, Ms Susmita Dhyani, Ms Nga Nguyen, Mr Vikrant Gupta and Mt Waqas Iqbal, represented La Trobe University in the CFA Global Investment Challenge. The La Trobe team competed against six other universities - Deakin, Swinburne, Monash, RMIT, the University of Melbourne and the University of Adelaide. They performed extremely well, finishing in second place - narrowly beaten by Monash University.
This is the first year that Melbourne universities have had the opportunity to compete in the CFA Society Global Investment Challenge. A number of teams competed within La Trobe University earlier in 2009, and the four best performing students went on to represent the University at the next level of the global competition.
Prior to the final in December, the teams from each University submitted a written report in which they conducted a financial analysis of Pacific Brands Limited, a listed company on the ASX that markets leading clothing and footwear brands. Each team then delivered a 20-minute presentation on their analysis, including fielding questions from the audience.
The La Trobe presentation was an extremely professional and polished performance. The judging panel made it very clear that they found it very difficult to separate the two best teams - La Trobe and Monash - and congratulated the La Trobe team on their performance.
The team from Monash will go on to represent Australia at the regional final in Manila in March. Meanwhile La Trobe University will start planning for this year's investment challenge, in the hope of doing even better than last year.
“For me, participating in the CFA Global Investment Research Challenge was like entering into a group rowing race with “begin” and “finish” points and so many unexpected incidences on the track. Behind each success were stories both funny and serious about how each member puts their time and effort into the competition, and most importantly how the group comes together for a mutual purpose.
My first lesson from consecutive sleepless nights staying back in the university for group meetings was time management. Apart from the Challenge, all members had full time commitments teaching, tutoring, studying and working. Thus, in order to fulfil all these equally-important obligations, we skipped sleep. There were times we rotated to sleep on sofa for every hour and went home to shower early in the mornings before heading back to university for classes. Tiredness, however, could not weigh us down, as each time we discovered something new and valuable for the report, we felt freshly energised. The process of learning, thus, simply kept us moving.
These experiences, therefore, made us realize the importance of good planning. Though a lack of sleep was perhaps inevitable, better planning and more sleep would have reduced the pressure of meeting deadlines and left us more able to check our work carefully and critically before submission.
The most valuable lesson for me was found in the group work experience. I realised that capable individuals do not automatically create a capable team. As a team, we had both unforgettably happy and sad arguments through which we learnt about team work. The Challenge provides for us a real-life experience where we had to work with people from different cultures, with different personalities and different work habits.
This competition is truly a real-life “Challenge” from which I learned important skills: both technical and social. Goldman Sachs analysts gave us very useful sessions on securities valuation and presentation, but the group work skills we had to learn by ourselves. This is like an infinite process of discovery: discovering knowledge, discovering people around you, and discovering your own self. Thus, for me, the competition is an open-ended Challenge; once it “closes”, new doors open: new opportunities and new discoveries.”
“Participation in Melbourne CFA Global Investment Research Challenge exposed us to practical hands-on experience which demonstrated how knowledge gained from the Master of Financial Analysis is practically applied. The track of climbing from the lecture theatre up to 35th floor at 120 Collins Street where the final presentations were made was challenging.
A lot of sleepless nights were spent in the David Whitehead Building. Everyday new ideas were generated, then as quickly scraped. The team split at times over the structure of the report and at other times reconciled to produce a report of which we could be proud. Additionally, members had study, work and personal life commitments; balancing all of which was not an easy task.
Prioritizing is always my first concern. Imagine, on one hand you do not want to degrade your marks or drop your shifts at work which helps you afford every day living expenses; on other hand you want to win the challenge; both of which requires equally full-time commitment. At times, I thought that I am too greedy; I have to lose something to win this challenge. All these stresses just add to the constant frustration as things were not moving the way we planned it.
The opportunities to meet industry professionals and attend training sessions provided by the university and the CFA as a part of the Challenge, motivated me to put more efforts in the Challenge. A main source of motivation came from our mentors, one an academic and the other a practicing analyst. From them, we got valuable guidance on how to approach to company, how to best structure our selling ideas, but more importantly how to work as a team.
Personally, this life-time experience is my greatest asset at this very moment which I believe shapes myself a better candidate to any potential employers. I feel fulfilled that I did something in my degree that will differentiate me from the rest of the graduates.”