The CFA Research Challenge

By Cher Guo

A team of five Bachelor of Commerce students from the University of Melbourne took the crown in the Melbourne Round of the 2020 CFA Research Challenge. They will also represent the CFA Society Melbourne to compete in the Oceania Round later in the year.

The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Research Challenge is a global competition that tests the financial analysis, investment report writing and presentation skills of university students. This year a team of five Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) students comprising Lawrence Lloyd-Jones (Captain), Jessica Elvina, Vivian Gao, Kenneth Guevarra and Jessica Tang took out an incredible win in the Melbourne round of the CFA Research Challenge. We spoke with the team to find out more.

‘The dynamics of teamwork are obviously critical to the project, but we really came to appreciate the value of playing devil’s advocate,’ says Lawrence. ‘Constructive debate rigorously tested our work, and not only sculpted our ideas, but also allowed us to pre-empt any weaknesses or criticisms that could be preyed upon by the judges. The importance of having a diverse team cannot be understated here, with a wide array of backgrounds being a real asset. The number of unique perspectives can only increase the value of group discussion, disagreement, and listening to these different perspectives allowed us to hone our own analytics and interpretation.’

A screenshot of the participants
A group photo of the team.

Vivian also suggested that constructive planning and teamwork played an essential role being successful in a virtual setting.

‘In many ways, working together online made coordination and communication easier. This seemed like a daunting task at the beginning, a large challenge was not knowing where to begin researching to make our report stand out against the others. We began by researching what the market was saying and picking up on small pieces of information we found interesting, then expanded those into a fully fleshed research track. This helped us focus our report into well thought out arguments.’

The team identified potential hurdles throughout their way and explored the importance of communication to work productively.

‘As a team, we were all eager to participate, and fostering a sense of team spirit was fundamental to our success. One significant hurdle was deciding how to allocate our limited time and effort. There was ample opportunity to lose sight of objectives and get lost in the sheer scale of the report, but, by setting clear goals and keeping each other accountable via regular meetings and continuous communication, we stayed away from any dangerous rabbit holes,’ says Jessica.

The Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) equips students with the skills and knowledge to understand and solve key business challenges. Make a difference to society, policy, and organisations while forging a pathway to a global career. Choose from majors including Accounting, Actuarial Studies, Economics, Finance, Management and Marketing.

Find out more about the Bachelor of Commerce now.

The team also has some advices for students who want to participate in future CFA Research Challenges.

‘Our biggest advice for future CFA competitors is to give the competition a go. The CFA Research Challenge itself is an immense learning experience. Within this competition, you're able to refine your teamwork, research, analytical, communication and modelling skills. It's important to recognise your teammates' strengths and to support each other in the process. It is a marathon, not a sprint, and requires careful planning and preparation. Additionally, you are provided with an industry mentor and university faculty members to support your research. Our mentor, Tim Young, was crucial in guiding our research and helping us discern the most compelling and impactful insights from an ocean of information. Faculty supervisors Andre Gygax and Asjeet Lamba prepared us for the grilling from the judges and made sure that we were confident enough to deliver an excellent presentation.’

Congratulations to the team on their win, and all they learned from their remarkable experience.