World Champions: Canisius Wins Global Finals at CFA Challenge

April 19, 2015


Buffalo, NY - A team of Canisius College students won the Global Finals at the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute Research Challenge held in Atlanta, GA April 17.  The Canisius team - Matthew Coad '14, MBA '16 (team captain), Carl Larsson '15, Stephen Miller '15, Kevin Monheim '15 and Ryan Zimmer '15 - competed against students from the University of Florida, and two other regional winners, one from EMEA (Kyiv National Economic University in the Ukraine) and one from APAC (Aateneo de Manila University in the Philippines) for the 2015 global title. 

More than 4,000 students from 865 universities from all over the world competed for a spot in the Global Finals to show they have what it takes to be a successful investment management professional. 

"The competition and talent from prestigious universities from across the globe is fierce," says Richard A. Wall, PhD, vice president for academic affairs and the Canisius team advisor.  "The CFA Challenge is one of the most rigorous and competitive financial competitions in the world.  Our students worked extremely hard and their success speaks to the in-depth, forward-thinking training they receive in equity research at Canisius.”

The CFA Institute Research Challenge is an annual global competition that provides university-sponsored teams with hands-on mentoring and intensive training in financial analysis.  Specifically, the competition tests the analytic, valuation, reporting writing and presentation skills of students studying business, finance and economics. Teams are challenged to research a publicly-traded company and write a written report with a buy, sell or hold recommendation.  Teams must then present and defend their analysis to a panel of industry professionals who serve as judges in the competition.

The Canisius team first earned a spot in the regional competition after taking home first place in the Western New York CFA Institute Research Challenge.  It was the fifth consecutive year that Canisius won the local competition, securing wins over Syracuse University, Niagara University, St. Bonaventure University, SUNY Oswego, SUNY Geneseo, SUNY Fredonia and SUNY Buffalo.

On Thursday, April 16, Canisius advanced to the Americas Finals in Atlanta, GA.  After winning in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, the team went up against  Marquette University, the University of Florida, Belmont University and the University of Hawaii to secure its spot in the Global Finals. 

The subject company for this year’s CFA Institute Research Challenge is Sovran Self Storage Inc.  Incorporated in 1995, Sovran acquires, owns and manages more than 500 self-storage properties in 25 states, under the name Uncle Bob’s Self Storage.  It is the fourth largest self-storage company in the U.S.

The Canisius team, which included Matthew Coad ’14, MBA ’16 (team captain), Carl Larsson ’15, Stephen Miller ’15, Kevin Monheim ’15 and Ryan Zimmer ’15, invested several hundred hours each outside of class preparing its 40-page report on Sovran for the CFA Challenge.  Prior to determining its buy, sell or hold recommendation, students evaluated the company’s industry and competitive positioning based on such demand drivers as economic growth, the jobmarket and demographic trends.  They examined the company’s history of acquisitions, revenue, profitability and long-term debt to develop a sound financial analysis.  The Canisius students also generated a risk analysis of Sovran, taking into consideration the company’s regulatory, operational, market and economic risks. 

“The CFA Institute Research Challenge allows students to experience the professional role of security analysis at the highest level achievable before entering the industry,” says Steve Gattuso, CFA,CFP® the Canisius team’s industry mentor and director of the college’s Golden Griffin Fund (GGF).  “By the end of their experience, students’ raw talents are shaped and they are skilled analytical professionals who have been highly-recruited for their ability to contribute immediately in their roles within the industry.”

Gattuso notes that every Canisius student who competes is also a member of the college’s Golden Griffin Fund (GGF) program and secures employment in the finance industry after graduation.  M&T Bank, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Price-Waterhouse, Citigroup, First Niagara and Nottingham Advisors are just a few of the global banking and financial firms that have recruited past Canisius competitors. 

Established in 2003, the GGF program is one of the region’s first real-money, equity investment funds managed by undergraduate and graduate finance majors.  GGF students analyze, evaluate and monitor current fund holdings. They also select potential companies in which to invest, and make analytical-based presentations of those companies for potential inclusion into the fund.  The Golden Griffin Fund began with an original investment of $125,000 and is currently valued at $400,000. 

 “At its core, the Golden Griffin Fund is an experiential learning program,” says Gattuso.   “Certainly we want the students and the investors to see a return but our objective is to prepare students for what they may experience in the job market in a much more effective way than traditional academics.”

The CFA Institute is a global association for investment professionals. It administers the CFA and Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement (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. The institute has more than 100,000 members, including the world’s 90,000 CFA charter-holders, as well as 135 affiliated professional societies in 58 countries and territories.

One of 28 Jesuit universities in the nation, Canisius is the premier private university in Western New York.