CFA Research Challenge 2016

Third year student Dina Ghanma talks about her experience competing alongside other ICMA Centre students in the annual CFA Research Challenge.

This year, and for the first time, the ICMA Centre proudly participated in the CFA Institute Research Challenge, a global equity valuation competition involving 70 countries and over 4,000 students worldwide. [1]

In 2013, our BSc Finance and Investment Banking degree became an official CFA Partner Program which brought with it many perks including five annual scholarships for the CFA Level 1 exam awarded to students who perform exceptionally well in Part 2. Gerald Lim, Sean Harper and Thomas Bowrey are amongst this year’s recipients, and I’m on the CFA IMC scholarship (another advantage extended to us by the Centre). So, Dr. Ioannis Oikonomou offered the four of us the opportunity to collectively represent the University in this prestigious competition. We were humbled by the request and happily agreed.

The challenge…

Hard work shortly followed. At the local level, the CFA assigned participating UK universities the FMCG company, Reckitt Benckiser (RB.LN), which is a FTSE100 constituent specialised in “health, hygiene and home” products including well-known brands like Nurofen, Strepsils, Dettol, Harpic, Durex and many more. As a multinational corporation present in over 200 countries, RB is a giant with many opportunities and obstacles in its path. Our task was not only to identify as many of these as possible, but also quantify them into monetary figures to eventually decide if RB’s shares are a good investment. After over a month of dedicated effort and research, we issued a ‘Hold’ recommendation upon considering all the associated valuation and operational risks.

CFA research challenge report

Extracts from our final report

On the whole, the experience lived up to its title of “challenge” since we encountered many complications and difficulties, but using all the resources and knowledge available to us, as well as the much appreciated help of our trusted mentor, Dr. Ioannis, we proceeded to overcome them as best we could. Although we unfortunately didn’t make it to the next round, my teammates and I are all happy we were able to participate in this excellent extracurricular activity. We learnt many important lessons, and added a notable item to our CVs! We truly hope the ICMA Centre remains involved in years to come. We can only go up!

Gerald Lim – “It was a great learning experience and I thank the ICMA Centre for providing us with the opportunity to apply what we’ve learnt into practice. I strongly encourage the ICMA Centre to continue its participation in the competition for the coming years.”

Sean Harper – “The Research Challenge provided fantastic experience in valuing a multinational for investment consideration. Ultimately, the ability to identify value and growth potential is a skill that will pay great dividends in a career in the field.”

Thomas Bowrey – “The CFA Research Challenge gave me an exciting opportunity to analyse a FTSE100 company by using the high standard skills and financial analysis techniques that I have learnt through studying this great finance degree at the ICMA Centre.”

Speaking personally, I felt the experience was very hands-on and engaging! I’m strongly considering a career in this field, so the Challenge was valuable practice, and I now feel even more prepared to face not only my upcoming IMC exams, but also the actual investment appraisal industry in the ‘real world’.

[1] In the CFA’s words, “The Research Challenge offers university students a unique opportunity to learn from leading industry experts and to compete with their peers from the world’s top finance programs. This annual initiative promotes best practices in equity research among the next generation of analysts through hands-on mentoring and intensive training in company analysis and presentation skills.” For more information about the competition, please visit: https://www.cfainstitute.org/community/challenge/Pages/index.aspx.

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