Winning is getting to be a habit at the Argyros School of Business and Economics. Last week the business school’s competition fund management team won first place in the CFA Society Orange County Institute Investment Competition for the second consecutive year.
The students, all members of the Janes Financial Center Residency Program, won the top honor by researching, planning and presenting an investment strategy for the CFA’s $55,000 scholarship fund. This is only the third year of competition for the Janes residents, who placed third in their first go at the contest.
The winning trend is thanks to the brainpower of the students, says their faculty advisor, Fadel N. Lawandy, assistant professor and director of the C. Larry Hoag Center for Real Estate and Finance.
“This is one extremely bright group of people. I really enjoy the fact that I get to work with them,” Lawandy says.
The students credit the Janes program.
“Winning this competition for two consecutive years shows the quality of this financial residency program,” says Jonathan Stachel ’15 (a December graduate) from Phoenix, Ariz., and the senior portfolio manager of this year’s team.
The win earns the students the privilege of managing the fund for the CFA, which stands for chartered financial analyst, through 2016, which as reigning champs they’ve been doing for the past year. Like professional fund managers, the students say they are well aware that such funds are the stuff of people’s retirements, college plans and life-long investments.
“Obviously, managing this money on behalf of the CFA, we value that this can have a real impact on people,” Stachel says.
How do they do that?
One of the keys to the students’ up-to-the-minute research and analyses is the ever-ready access they have to the 12 Bloomberg Terminals located in the Janes Financial Center in the Argyros School of Business and Economics. Bloomberg Terminals are part computer service and part software, providing a vast amount of data and news investors need to track and analyze nearly any imaginable market trend.
But like surgeons in the operating room, the students say the lion’s share of their focus is on the task of making the best decisions for the fund’s health and performance. And they relish the game-like element of the competition.
“It’s like a puzzle. It’s a lot of missing pieces and you have to figure it out,” says Corey Lachance ’16 from Mission Viejo, Calif.
But don’t go looking for too much investment advice from the students just yet. Several members of the residency program are turning their attention to the next major competition they face in February. That contest, the CFA Institute’s Research Challenge, invites students to prepare an equity research report on a publicly traded company. This year the subject company for all competitors is Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.
Some of the same strategies that led to their success in the CFA scholarship challenge will guide the residents’ research challenge recommendations, too. So, they’re staying mum for the moment.
Asked to share just a tidbit of free investment advice, the students smiled and chuckled. But collectively, they agreed to lend a bit of what they say shapes their style – Don’t do what everyone else is doing.
Sounds like a winning formula so far.