CANYON, Texas—The West Texas A&M University CFA Research Challenge team finished as top five in the nation and top 10 among universities in North and South America at the 2017 CFA Research Challenge Americas April 7 in Seattle, Wash.

CFA Research Challenge Team
CFA Research Challenge Team 2017

The WTAMU team gained the right to participate in the Americas by winning the 2017 Southwest U.S. Championship at University of Houston in February. For the 2016-2017 competition year, 1,031 business school teams representing more than 4,000 students in 81 countries competed in the CFA Research Challenge.

The CFA Institute Research Challenge is an annual global stock research competition hosted by the CFA Institute. The principles applied in the CFA Research Challenge are core knowledge of equity investments; leadership, management and communication skills; and standards, ethics and regulations. Teams create a written analysis, and, if selected, compete in oral competition rounds.

At the Americas competition, the WTAMU team presented its stock research on U.S. Physical Therapy (NYSE: USPH) and answered questions from a panel of three distinguished industry experts. A total of 53 regional championship teams from CFA Societies across the Americas competed at the event. During the semifinal round, the WTAMU team defeated teams from the University of Texas at Dallas, Champlain College, Illinois Institute of Technology and the Univeristy of Connecticut to advance to the final round.

In the final round, the WTAMU team competed again the nine other finalists teams of Barna Business School, Canisius College, Chapman University, Insper Instiuto de Ensinoe Pesquisa, John Hopkins University, Seton Hall University, Universidad Externado de Colombia, University of Denver, University of Waterloo. Seton Hall University and Barna Business School emerged as the winners to advance to the global competition against the winners from Asia and Europe.

“In a highly competitive environment, our students rose to the challenge,” Dr. Amjad Abdullat, associate dean of College of Business Undergraduate Programs, said.

“After winning U.S. Southwest, the students continued to work hard to improve their presentation and update their research.” Dr. Barbara Wang, Gene Edwards Professor of Banking and faculty sponsor, said. “They represented WTAMU and U.S. Southwest really well, and we are so proud of our students.”

From November through April, the four students worked diligently on valuing the company.   The students had to consider how marcoeconomic and industry factors influence the firm’s cash flows and the stock’s price.

“You have to consider hundreds of variables to find the one that actually matters,” Kelsey Pruitt, a finance and management major from Amarillo, said.

“Not only did the CFA Challenge help me decide on my career path, it helped me understand the balance between theory and practice in the finance industry,” Stefan Schlabs, a finance and economics major from Hereford, said.

“The CFA Challenge tied everything I have learned in class into a real world application.  It was the most challenging but rewarding thing I have done in college,” said Niall Pratt, a graduate student in economics and finance from Dublin, Ireland. “Exactly, the CFA Challenge tested our ability to apply finance principles to a messy real world problem,” Joel Klein, an accounting major from Amarillo, added.

“The students truly have to work as a team.  Months of analysis, writing, and preparation come down to a 30-page report and a 20-minute presentation.  During the Q&A, the industry professionals who judge the competition can question them on anything. The students have to know the company inside and out, including being able to quote the 10-K. The amount of preparation and the trust in fellow teammates is amazing, especially because students did not know each other before being selected to be on the team in November,” Dr. Anne Macy, Gene Edwards Professor of Finance and faculty adviser, said.

The CFA Research team is sponsored by the Amarillo Merrill Lynch – Bank of America leadership.

Team members are listed by hometown or country, classification and major.

Amarillo
Joel Klein, undergraduate student pursuing THE B.B.A. in accounting
Kelsey Pruett, undergraduate student pursing the B.B.A. in finance and management

Hereford
Stefan Schlabs, undergraduate student pursing the B.B.A. in finance and economics

Dublin, Ireland
Niall Pratt, graduate student pursuing the M.S. in finance and economics