What is the Challenge?
As per the official website, "[t]he CFA Institute Research Challenge is a global competition which tests the analytic, valuation, report writing, and presentation skills of university students".
You will work on a team of 5 researching an assigned publicly traded company. This research includes a business overview, valuation of the company, industry analysis, competitive positioning, investment risks, and ultimately developing an investment thesis based on this research. All of this information will then be compiled into a 10-page report and 10 minute presentation that will be presented to a panel of judges (all holding the CFA designation).
During this time, you will have the opportunity to meet with executives from the company, hear a presentation from them, tour their facilities, and finally have a Q&A session. You will also receive unparalleled guidance and feedback from a professional mentor that currently holds the CFA charter designation. We have been lucky enough to work with Kathleen Vogelsang, CFA, Chief Investment Officer of the Van Andel Institute, for the last two years.
This challenge will keep you up-to-date on the most recent market events and forces you to consider their potential impact on the company. It will require that you understand the company through-and-through which often means reading multiple year's worth of 10-K reports and all of the most recent 10-Q reports. More importantly, the challenge exposes you to the due diligence, fact checking, and thought processes that today's equity analysts utilize in their practice every single day.
So, in a sentence: It's the hardest, longest, most demanding, and most rewarding project you'll be apart of during your undergraduate college tenure.
Who can participate?
The Challenge is open to any student that has not previously participated in the Challenge, is not currently a CFA charterholder, and is not currently in a job whose primary function is fundamental company analysis unless it was an internship that did not exceed 6 months.
If you are interested in stock analysis and you are willing to put in a significant amount of time, then you should consider participating in the Challenge. While it is recommended that you have taken FIN 321 and 322 at a minimum, they are not a requirement. If you have some understanding of equity markets, feel comfortable with your ability to learn outside of the classroom (which you will do a lot of regardless of how many finance classes you have already taken at GVSU), and have an instinctual curiosity and passion for continual learning, then this Challenge is perfect for you!