Hosted by the CFA Institute, the CFA Research Challenge provides the opportunity for top finance students from all over the world to demonstrate their know-how. Teams produce an investor report for a publically listed company (this year’s company: Indra), completing a comprehensive financial analysis, a 5-year forecast of financial statements and a final company valuation.
Final reports are submitted by February 15, 2018 and finalists then compete at the Madrid Stock Market on March 8, 2018.
Meet blog contributors Ashiqur Rahman and Grecia Colmenares
Ashiqur Rahman and Grecia Colomenares are two of the ten participants chosen to represent EADA in this year’s CFA Research Challenge.
Ashiqur has both American and Bangladeshi nationality. He has entrepreneurial experience in founding and growing a technology incubator in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and three years of experience in product management at Silicon Valley technology firms listed in NYSE. Ashiqur holds the CFA Level I and II and plans to complete the Level III in June of 2018.
Grecia is from Mexico and has worked abroad in the United States and Spain. Grecia was motivated to join the programme at EADA to fulfil her long-term goal of starting her own business.
Ashiqur: This week has been characterised by increased productivity compared to prior weeks (minimum input – maximum output). Since this had been a very busy week for all of us, overwhelmed with presentations and assignments –not to mention a final examination– we managed to meet only once. This meeting was different from the previous ones, in which we had to get our hands dirty all over the internet to gather and analyse data. This time we had access to Thomson Reuters Eikon and we made the best use of it. We had all the relevant data in just a few clicks, and we got down to business right away.
Grecia: The CFA Research Challenge has proven to be, as its name says, very challenging. Since the start of the research process, we realised that the investigation of Indra would take time and lots of reading. Indra is a company worth billions of euros, it is present in several countries all around the world with plenty of income sources. It also has a history of acquiring minor companies and has experienced ups and downs in the market. I know we will continue to encounter challenges, but this is where all the empirical experience comes from.
Ashiqur: We had a meeting scheduled with our advisor Albert to talk about how to articulate our research so far and structure our questions and concerns. Albert has led a successful career, with many JV and M&A projects under his belt. Even today, apart from being an associate professor at EADA, he is still involved with the professional world through advisory and consultancy — this means that he has both the academic knowledge and real hands-on experience. Albert has the ability to transmit and convey what he has learned in the most effective manner, and this has been a wonderful learning experience for us.
Grecia: We had mixed emotions this week: some of us were nervous about studying for finals, while others were completely relaxed…and still others anxious to get to the mountains for the long weekend for some winter sports. But we all agreed that the CFA Research Challenge has been, and will continue to be, a great experience to grow into our professional lives. We really feel like professionals, with all the advantages like Thomson Reuters Eikon – what an amazing platform!
Ashiqur: The next couple of weeks will undoubtedly be the hardest, with many new “unknowns” to be solved. A Q&A session was arranged with the company this week, and we prepared questions to send beforehand. Many long, didactic hours of work await in the coming week — we have allotted a full day plus more hours after classes to fine-tune our forecasts to the best of our abilities.
Grecia: The CFA Institute Research Challenge report deadline is in one months’ time, so we are currently working at maximum speed. We’re excited and nervous at the same time; time has passed very quickly, and so has our Indra valuation. We will have to double the meetings as before the break for sure – finishing up the last numerical and holistic valuation of the company takes time and effort.
Ashiqur: With less than 2 weeks left, our engines are running fast. It feels like we still have a long way to go in this short span of time, but our increased enthusiasm with every passing day will hopefully yield positive results. The coming week is crucial with fine-tuning the draft report and improving the valuations and financial analysis.
Grecia: We are just a few days away from the report deadline! I believe that our team is in a very good position, and we’re feeling excited and happy with the work we’ve done, while still acknowledging that there is always room for improvement. It has been a journey full of different emotions: happiness, anxiety, stress, but mostly, excitement.