On to the CFA Final Four

Roland George Investment Program representatives in the statewide CFA Institute Research Challenge on March 2: (from left) Bilal Hashmi, Humberto Soares, Luca Zambelli and Matthew Sweeney. 

Stetson’s prestigious Roland George Investments Program will be sending four students to the Final Four championship of the CFA Institute Research Challenge (Chartered Financial Analyst) for Florida, March 2 in Jacksonville.

The CFA Institute Research Challenge is an annual collegiate research competition sponsored by CFA Institute-member societies across the state. Globally, the research challenge includes 800 participating universities, 500 industrial volunteers and more than 4,000 undergraduate/graduate students spanning four continents.

During the four months leading up the competition deadline, Stetson students Matthew Sweeney, Luca Zambelli, Humberto Soares and Bilal Hashmi compiled a research report on Lennar Corp., a publicly traded company in the residential construction Industry. The students then were challenged with competing against the 16 other participating Florida institutions on the overall quality of the report, with each institution reporting on the same company.

In the end, the Stetson team emerged as one of the top four finalists, with Florida International University, Florida State University and Jacksonville University also advancing to the final round of the state competition.

“Having spent over 200 hours on the financial metrics of Lennar Corporation, and conducting a comprehensive industry analysis, the competition became less about the mere quantity of work and more about taking pride in the significance of the work we were doing,” said Soares, a senior finance and economics double major. “It takes more than just financial smartness to perform at a high level in the CFA Research Challenge. At the end of the day, it is about the blood, sweat and tears that you are willing to put in.”

“Humberto and I were looked upon as the experienced senior leaders of the group, with juniors Luca and Bilal being the newbies. But that soon changed when their skills as clever financial analysts soon became very evident,” said Matthew Sweeney, a double major in math and finance.

When asked about joining the team, Zambelli, a junior management and finance major, noted: “I did not know if I could do this, I had never done anything like this before and I felt as if I was way out of my comfort zone. But then, little by little, I felt a part of the team and knew that I could make a positive difference.” 

The collective efforts of the team are what ultimately drove their success in producing the “highest quality research paper in the eight years that the Stetson University Roland George Investment Program has participated in the research challenge,” commented K.C. Ma, Ph.D., the Roland George Chair of Applied Investments and director of the George Investments Institute. 

Not surprising, given their success, the students sacrificed much of their free time to prepare, including the majority of their winter break.

“Spread all around the world, we had many a skype call with our director, Dr. Ma, in Taiwan, and Luca, who was home in Milan, Italy, for the break,” said Hashmi, majoring in finance and economics.

Since being a part of the CFA Institute Research Challenge, Stetson has placed a team in the Florida Final Four six out of the eight years, including one Florida Championship.

Could this be a second big win?

See related article here.

-Nate Smith ’19