Teams of St. Mike’s finance students compete and learn

March 6, 2017

Two student teams from Saint Michael’s College applied their financial-analyst skills to a case study in competition against teams from three other Vermont colleges on February 8, 2017, with judges scoring the results in the state’s first annual CFA Institute Research Challenge.

Despite not winning, the Saint Michael’s teams gained valuable experience and demonstrated good ability to analyze a publicly traded company and present their findings to industry experts, according to team mentors Joanne Scott and Karen Popovich of the Saint Michael’s business & accounting faculty.

CFA stands for Chartered Financial Analyst – a finance professional specializing in advanced investment and financial strategies who has an in-depth understanding of financial markets. These professionals typically work in hedge funds, brokerage houses, or investment banks analyzing market trends and managing portfolios for investors. This certification, called a charter, is issued by the CFA Institute, a private organization dedicated to acknowledging excellence in education and experience. Someone with this designation is called a charter holder or chartered financial analyst.

The competition, held at the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies in downtown Burlington’s FairPoint Technology Hub on Main Street, was sponsored by the CFA Institute of Vermont, and is part of a worldwide competition.  A total of five student teams from several Vermont colleges (Saint Michael’s, Champlain, Norwich and Lyndon) analyzed Casella Waste Systems, Inc. and wrote an equity research report on the company, including a valuation of the company and a recommendation whether investors should buy, sell or hold Casella Stock.

Each student team had access to both a faculty and a finance industry mentor.  The research report was submitted in December 2016, and the student teams presented their analysis and recommendations to a panel of industry experts on February 8, 2017.

The following teams represented Saint Michael’s:

Led by faculty mentor Joanne Scott and industry mentor Joe Caligiuri CFA (Saint Michael’s 2008 philosophy major and analyst at Champlain Investment Partners) was the student team of: Alex Winkelmann ’17 (business and psychology majors); David Shektman ’17 (business major); Danielle Barbato ’17 (business); and Tom Fitzgerald ’17 (accounting).

Led by faculty mentor Karen Popovich and industry mentor Fred Brubaker, CFA (research analyst at Prentiss Smith & Co.) (photo at left) was the student team of: Ryan Boquist ’17(accounting major); Matthew Arnold ’18 (economics); and Timothy Connor ’17 (economics).

The written report and the Vermont presentation each represented 50 percent of the final team score. Since there was a tie for first place, the Champlain College team won the Vermont CFA Research Challenge based on the strength of their presentation and will compete in the national portion of the worldwide event in April.

Scott praised the student effort: “Writing a professional report and then presenting the results in front of a panel of industry experts, as well as the finance director at Casella, took a lot of time, research, data analysis and practice,” she said. “It was a great experience for everyone and we are very proud of what they accomplished.”

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