Mason Team Is Runner Up in Inaugural CFA Investment Research Challenge

The Mason School of Business was first runner up in the CFA Virginia Investment Research Challenge, whose finals were held in held in Richmond on April 10. Juniors Kate Olsen and Caleb Piatt, and seniors Tyler Ewell, Javier Oreamuno, and James Garber comprised the Mason team.

Professors Gjergji Cici and James Haltiner served as faculty advisors to the team. CFA Virginia appointed Matt Clayton as professional mentor to the Mason team. He is currently with the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) and is an alumnus of the Executive MBA program at the Mason School.

The Challenge was aimed at providing a solid learning experience for students and exposes them to the world of investments through an investment research "competition" managed by investment professionals (Richmond Society of CFAs). Teams from The College of William and Mary, Hampden-Sydney College, University of Richmond, University of Virginia, and Virginia Commonwealth University were invited to participate in this inaugural competition.

"I commend the students, in particular, for adding this commitment to their course and other activities and for doing so very well. This challenge presented them with a wonderful opportunity to have a valuable experience, interact with professionals in the field, and perform at a very high level," said Dean Lawrence B. Pulley.

The structure of the competition was similar to that used by the New York Society of Financial Analysts in their competitions held the last couple of years. Teams evaluated a selected company, met with management of that company for questions and discussion, and then prepared a written analysis of 8-10 pages. The papers were evaluated by a group of investment professionals as judges.  On April, the teams presented their papers to the panel of judges then selected the winning team. The Challenge started in November of 2007 for team selection, with final analysis submitted in March 2008.

Owens & Minor, Inc., was the company selected for the challenge. The Mason team presented a research report on the company, prepared an investment opinion on the company's stock and fielded questions from panels of judges. Seven investment professionals from Richmond were judges for the written report, and four other investment professionals were judges for the investment presentation.

"Our team did a fine job in all three areas. This was clearly worth the effort and we look forward to being invited to next year's competition," said Professor Haltiner.

Professor Cici added, "Throughout their preparation for this challenge, our students were exposed to valuation practices that are widely used by financial analysts and professionals. I am pleased that this corporate valuation culminated in an investment recommendation on the part of the students, which I know led to an integrated learning experience."

Students received 1.5 credit hours for their participation, plus invaluable experience for their resumes.