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CFA Institute Research Projects Gives Students Access to Industry Mentors

Recently, Saint Peter’s University students competed in the CFA Institute Research Challenge, which is a competition between university-sponsored teams that produce a written and an oral report based on a business case study. Alexander Slawinski ’20, Samantha Irizarry ’21 and Leandis Cedeno ’21 formed the Saint Peter’s University team that competed at the local level. The competition promotes ethics and best practices in equity research through mentoring and training and applies what is learned in the class room to real life situations.

This year, 39 teams that represented 34 schools competed. The Saint Peter’s students were mentored by Enzo DiCostanzo, M.B.A., assistant clinical professor of economics and finance at Saint Peter’s University, chief economist at Pramana Capital and CFA Institute Research Challenge faculty advisor, and Ryan Sterling, CFA, industry mentor. The teams can be up to five students and all teams have a faculty advisor and an industry mentor. The teams conducted a deep dive research project on Cognizant, which is a technology company that helps companies innovate and update the way that they use technology. Ultimately, each team was responsible for analyzing management and legal risks of the company and they made suggestions on the value of stock. The teams presented their research in front of a panel of judges.

“We are teaching what the students need to learn and also listening to the student’s interests,” said DiCostanzo.

The competition allows students to become familiar with the CFA program. It gives them the opportunity to practice thinking on their feet; it teaches teamwork and gives the students practical experience.

“The Challenge is really good hands-on and practical training,” said Mario Caria, CFA, managing director of content and member services, CFA Society New York. “It is admirable to see the amount of work the students put into the project,” he added.

Irizarry, a member of the Saint Peter’s team, is a double major in finance and marketing with a minor in economics and management. She discussed the amount of work that went into this project. The written and verbal reports were in addition to her coursework and they developed the presentation for five months before presenting it at the Challenge.

“The CFA Institute Research Challenge taught me a lot about time management skills and how to meet deadlines,” Irizarry said. “In addition, it taught me leadership, networking, presentation skills and analytics.”

She explained that they used Excel a lot and as a team they looked for facts to back up their arguments. The 10 minute presentation was followed by 10 minutes of questioning from the judges and the teams had to be prepared because they did not know what would be asked.

“I recommend this project to other students because it is a hands-on experience and improved my real-world skills,” said Irizarray. “The project used the content I was learning in the classroom.”