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Bethel Team Makes Finals at CFA Research Challenge

Bethel’s team in the CFA Research Challenge also gave their final-round presentation on campus.

A team of students from the Department of Business and Economics in the College of Arts & Sciences reached the final round of the Upper Midwest Chartered Financial Analyst Global Research competition, sponsored by the Certified Financial Analysts (CFA) Society of Minnesota. Bethel students competed against teams from Minnesota State University Mankato, North Dakota State University, University of Minnesota-Duluth, and University of St. Thomas in the final round. Three additional schools were part of the first round: University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, University of North Dakota, and St. John’s University. This was the fifth year that a team from Bethel has participated in the challenge. 

The Bethel team members included Seth Assam ’15, Donovan Carson ’15, Roman DeWitt ’15, Harrison Hitt ’15, and Grady Rolando ’15. Associate Professor of Business and Department Chair Chuck Hannema was the team’s faculty advisor. 

The annual challenge is hosted by the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute, which is a global network in the finance industry, upholding ethics, education, and excellence in the field. CFA credentials are considered the highest recognition in the area of investment around the world, above an MBA.

Each fall, the CFA Institute’s local chapter chooses a subject company that all teams will research for the challenge. Graco Inc. (GGG), a publicly traded Minneapolis company, was this year’s choice. Each team is assigned a CFA Institute member as a mentor through the process. Teams receive public financial documents and participate in an Analyst Day, where executive members of the company, including the Chief Financial Officer, are present for questions and clarification of the data. The students then perform their own further research and analysis of the company and its financial data in the marketplace. According to the CFA Institute website, most teams spend 100-150 hours researching the subject company. 

Teams compile an extensive written report that is graded in the first round. The top five teams are invited to the final round and must give a 10-minute oral and visual presentation, followed by another 10 minutes of questions and answers with the panel of judges.

“The team did a great job, represented Bethel well, and worked incredibly hard,” commented Hannema. “One of the judges, a well-known local portfolio manager who also teaches in the MBA program at Columbia, commented that the quality of the research from all teams exceeded anything she routinely sees in her MBA students!”

While Bethel’s team didn’t move on to further rounds of the challenge, it was a worthwhile project for each of them. DeWitt, a business finance major, says of the experience, “For me personally, the project, like my time at Bethel, was exactly what I needed, when I needed it. The project really helped me to grasp what it is I want to do for a career, similar to how Bethel has helped me to realize how I want to live my life.”

Before the CFA challenge, Assam, an accounting and finance major, secured a full-time auditor position with Deloitte, which will begin after his May graduation. While the competition didn’t influence his short-term career path, it has offered more ideas for the long-term. “This project has opened my eyes to a plethora of options I might have during or after Deloitte. Due to the depth of analysis that we did for this project and how much I enjoyed it, I am hoping to eventually transfer over to the consulting side of Deloitte where I would be able to perform similar analyses of large companies.”

“This was one of the greatest activities I have been a part of at Bethel, for two reasons,” explains Carson, a business major with emphases in finance and entrepreneurship. “The first being the educational process, which was very challenging and rewarding. Second is the caliber of people I got to work alongside. I can’t say enough about the team I was on and our mentors. I know that each one of the fellow students I worked with is going to be a future business leader.”

Following the challenge events, the team presented their research on campus at the PrimeTime in the Library event on March 10 and answered questions about the process, their research, and what this experience has meant to them.

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