Alumni judges help St. Mike’s finance students prep for competition

Successful professionals provide feedback and networking as February's annual global CFA Challenge draws closer

January 27, 2021
Faculty/staff report

cfa logoThree highly successful alumni finance professionals in December gave a virtual boost to Saint Michael’s business students preparing for the Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA) Challenge, an annual global competition to be held in February.

In a Zoom program organized by Brandon Majmudar of the College’s Institutional Advancement office and Xinting Zhen of the business faculty, the five students made a virtual presentation and received helpful feedback from the alumni judges, much as will happen in the actual competition.

The alumni volunteer judges were: Grace Hoefig ’81, Senior Vice president/director of research and portfolio manager for Franklin Templeton Investments; Robert Hopper ’94, director of high yield and emerging market corporate credit research for AllianceBernstein; and Dan Lagan ’87, CFA, CEO/portfolio manager for Congress Asset Management Company.

Student presenters were Thomas Flack ’21 (business administration & accounting major), Katlyn Smith’21 (accounting major with minor in business); Antonio Finsterer ’22 (business & international relations majors with minor in accounting); Nicole Anderson ’21 (business & sociology major with economics minor); and Brandon Mitchell ’21 (business administration & accounting major with economics minor). Business faculty joining the zoom meeting were Karen Popovich, Steven Doyon, Paul Olsen and Zhen, who is also the group’s faculty adviser.


Grace Hoefig ’81

After Majmudar and Zhen got things rolling technically for the Zoom on the Friday afternoon of December 18, 2020, judges and students made introductions before the team made a presentation, with a Q&A time with judges, who then provided their feedback before a chance for general networking and student questions for the alumni panelists.

The CFA Challenge is designed to provide university students with hands-on mentoring and intensive training in financial analysis and professional ethics. Each student is tested on their analytical, valuation, report writing, and presentation skills. They gain real-world experience as they assume the role of a research analyst. Each CFA team will apply spreadsheet valuation modeling to value for a public traded company, which is assigned by the CFA Institute.

This year, the assigned project company is SEI Investments Company (NASDAQ: SEIC). The CFA team will use an SEC website and other financial professional sources to gather information and financial data about this company and then apply appropriate financial models to value for the company. Students then will create a report based on their valuation results, as well as create a presentation in which they will make hold/buy/sell investment recommendations.


Robert Hopper ’94

Local level competitions are organized and judged by CFA Institute Society members and volunteers who function as local hosts. The winning university team from each local competition advances to the sub-regional competition. The sub-regional, regional, and global competitions are hosted by CFA Institute in the Americas; the Asia Pacific; and the Europe, Middle East, and Africa regions. The winning teams from each sub-regional competition advance to the regional competition. Regional winners advance to the Global Final, where one team emerges as the global champion.



Dan Lagan ’87

The three alumni finance panelists volunteered an hour of their time to help the students prepare by judging their presentation. Students presented as if they were doing the real presentation with 10 minutes to present and 10-15 minutes for a Q&A. The judges then gave feedback on the presentation and the accompanying student report.

Panelist Hoefig was an environmental science major at Saint Michael’s, while Hopper and Lagan both earned St. Mike’s accounting degrees before completing their MBAs at Boston College.

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