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BYU students win North, South America investment competition

Team advances to global competition in Hong Kong

A team of three MBAs and two undergraduates from Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management recently won the Americas Investment Research Challenge sponsored by the CFA Institute. The team will now represent the Americas region at the Global Investment Research Challenge in Hong Kong.

“[The CFA competition] is the college ball of academic finance, and they’re on their way to Hong Kong,” said Tom Keene, radio host and a past judge for the CFA competition, in an interview with the winning BYU team on Bloomberg Radio. CFA Institute is a global association of investment professionals.

The BYU team prevailed against colleges and universities from throughout North and South America, including MIT, the University of Pennsylvania and last year’s winning school, Fundação Getulio Vargas of São Paulo. BYU’s accomplishment is unique in that it is the only team to win in its first year participating.

The BYU team consisted of Michael Esselman, a second-year MBA from Mooresville, N.C.; Jeremy Kearley, a second-year MBA from Oak Park, Ill.; Cromwell Wong, a second-year MBA from the Philippines; Kurt Barton, a senior finance major from Salt Lake City; and Scott Crockett, a senior finance major from Los Angeles.

BYU’s team was assigned to analyze Merit Medical Systems, Inc., a medical device manufacturer based in South Jordan, Utah. Kearley says what really gave the team an edge was their original research; in preparation for the competition, they interviewed cardiologists, surgeons and others who use Merit’s products.

“We wanted to understand what clients were thinking,” he said. “Thanks to our primary research, we were able to be more engaged with the company and to answer tough questions from the judges in direct and impactful ways — we could cite the people who were actually using the product.”

The Global Investment Research Challenge will be the final event in the CFA competition. Throughout the process, students from business schools around the world compete by writing and presenting their research on a publicly traded company. Industry professionals act as judges to determine the winners at each stage of the competition.

Jim Engebretsen, faculty adviser for the BYU team, noted that many at the competition were impressed with the students’ success, especially considering it was BYU’s first year at the competition.

“The students really won over the judges with their confidence, familiarity with the company, and ability to answer the judges’ questions in a succinct and insightful manner,” Engebretsen said. “These students have demonstrated their ability to work hard and showcased the excellent training they get at BYU.”

This year, more than 75 CFA Instituted member societies hosted local competitions with about 1,500 students from more than 425 universities worldwide participating.

CFA Institute administers the CFA and CIPM curriculum and exam programs worldwide; publishes research; conducts professional development programs; and sets voluntary, ethics-based professional and performance-reporting standards for the investment industry.

Approximately 3,300 students are enrolled in the Marriott School’s graduate and undergraduate programs.

For this and other Marriott School news releases, visit the online newsroom at marriottschoool.byu.edu/news.

Writer: Holly V.W. Munson

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