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Five undergraduate students from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s College of Business will advance to the next round of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute Research Challenge.

The five students advance after defeating teams from Carthage College, UW-Madison and UW-Whitewater. The UWO team will travel to Seattle, Washington, to compete in the Americas Regional challenge April 6-7.

The CFA Institute Research Challenge is an annual global competition that provides university students with hands-on mentoring and intensive training in financial analysis. Working in teams, students analyze a publicly traded company and produce a research report with a buy, sell or hold recommendation. In November, competing teams visited AO Smith, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of residential and commercial water heaters and boilers, to receive the financial report that would serve as the foundation of their research and analysis.

UWO CFA Challenge Team

UW Oshkosh finance majors Tony Francois, of Sun Prairie; Jordan Mitchell, of Wrightstown; Josh Wheeler, of Sheboygan; and Michael Vanevenhoven ’16; and Brad Wiegman, of Appleton, formed a team after hearing about the challenge through the Student-Managed Endowment Fund (SMEF) program.

Recruited by the students, William Morrison, UWO accounting lecturer, joined the team as the adviser. Throughout the competition, he is only able to provide up to 10 hours of guidance and direction to the team.

“The CFA challenge is one of those opportunities outside the classroom that allows students to learn skills and perform them at a high level. When these guys reflect about their college experience, I guarantee this experience will be prominent in their highlight reel,” Morrison said.

Taking advantage of the long winter break, the team dove into the material and began framing the data through a quantitative and a qualitative lens. Logging more than 400 hours, the team refined their time management, goal setting and delegation of duties throughout the project.

“The number of hours spent with this team has shown me that with a little hard work and elbow grease–anything is possible,” Mitchell said

DonaldSwainCFA charter-holder and alumnus Donald Swain ’04, served as the team’s industry professional. As a chief investment officer, Swain performs similar analyses on a daily basis. He reviewed the team’s report and offered critiques of their presentation.

“Donald Swain was a great asset when we were working on our valuation sections. He showed us different valuation methods we could use and linked us to information from Bloomberg that strengthened our report,” Wiegman said.

Tough competition

The toughest part of the competition comes after their presentation when the students need to support and defend their analysis to a panel of industry professionals.

“Those 10 minutes of Q-and-A can be the longest 10 minutes of a student’s life. I was very proud that our team answered each and every question with acumen and insight,” Morrison said.

Since 2002, the CFA challenge has grown to involve tens of thousands of students from more than 900 universities in more than 75 countries. The UWO team will compete against 53 other teams with the top two advancing to the global finale.

“Our team has begun to revitalize and improve our presentation for the regional competition. We are eager to represent UW Oshkosh’s top-notch business program as we compete against larger schools,” Mitchell said.

Winners from the Americas, Asia Pacific and Europe/Middle East/Africa regions will compete in this year’s global finale on April 28, in Prague, Czech Republic.

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