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GBA Team Goes to London as Global Finalist for CFA Research Challenge

Mike Kiernan, Jonathan LaSala, Elaine Lou , Paul Kearney, Ken Boswell, and Robert Fuest accept their awards.

After beating out 18 other university teams to get  to the “final four,” students from the Graduate School of Business Administration (GBA) won the New York Regional Final of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute Research Challenge. Ken Boswell, Paul Kearney, Jonathan LaSala, and Elaine Lou will head to London next month for the Global Final where they’ll face teams from Asia-Pacific, Europe, and North America.

The New York Society of Security Analysts hosted the regional competition at Bloomberg Headquarters on March 4. Competing against Montclair State, Pace, and Seton Hall universities, the team boiled down complex data on Microsoft Corporation into a ten page research brief and a buy/sell/hold recommendation.

As the team has little prior experience conducting equity research, it took members hundreds of hours to develop basic knowledge of one of the world’s largest companies into an intimate understanding.

Students put their GBA skills to the test in a forum where industry experts could evaluate their report, their ten-minute slide presentation, and could ask follow up questions.

“It was a daunting process for our dedicated students; their social life has been pretty much nil,” said Robert J. Fuest, adjunct professor of finance in the Schools of Business and the team’s faculty advisor.

Team mentor Mike Kiernan, GBA ’93, joined Fuest in coaching the students, as did several other faculty and professionals. The training began in earnest last August and will continue through April as students prepare for their London competition. The constant drilling was not unlike an athletic competition.

“They watch hours of past competitions. We practice poise and inflection until they put on a pristine presentation,” said Fuest.

Students also read dozens of existing reports on Microsoft, banked 40 hours of interviews, and recieved over 200 survey responses.

“A lot their understanding came from the surveys,” said Fuest.  “I think their findings were valid, I would love for them to debate with someone who has a different recommendation on the stock.”


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