Financial Analyst Team Advances in International Competition

A team of four FAU College of Business students enrolled in the college’s Financial Analyst Program are heading to Chicago after advancing to the Americas regional of the CFA Institute Research Challenge.

The students – James Engstrom, Oscar Isoba, Bradley Schwartzmann and Marcus Stewart – recently won the statewide competition against 10 other schools, eventually defeating teams from the University of Florida, Florida State University and Stetson in the final recently in Tampa, where they were unanimously declared the winners by a panel of judges.


By james-hellegaard | 2/25/2016

A team of four Florida Atlantic University College of Business students enrolled in the college’s Financial Analyst Program are heading to Chicago after advancing to the Americas regional of the CFA Institute Research Challenge.  

The students – James Engstrom, Oscar Isoba, Bradley Schwartzmann and Marcus Stewart – recently won the statewide competition against 10 other schools, eventually defeating teams from the University of Florida, Florida State University and Stetson in the final recently in Tampa, where they were unanimously declared the winners by a panel of judges. After seven years of competing in the challenge, it’s the first time FAU has won the state competition.

“When we got up there we were pretty confident,” Stewart said. The moment when the judges announced they were the winners “was very surreal,” Isoba said. “All the others schools came and shook our hands and congratulated us. It was a really good feeling.”

Rainford Knight, Ph.D., the finance professor who founded the Financial Analyst Program at FAU in 2010, named the students to the team last September. Each team in the competition researches and analyzes a publicly traded company. All teams in the Florida competition were assigned Tech Data, one of the world’s largest technology distributors. The company, which is headquartered in Clearwater, Fla., had $27.7 billion in sales during the latest fiscal year.

The students estimate they collectively put in more than 1,000 hours to do the research, preparation and writing for the competition, including two calls with Tech Data’s vice president for investor relations. They researched market data, earnings conference calls, macroeconomic drivers, the company’s competitive position in the industry, as well as financials, even producing their own independent valuation of the company.

“It’s an intense process,” Knight said.

Knight said he chose the team based on their intelligence, their ability to pitch and sell and their chemistry. Their success, he said, is a testament to FAU’s Financial Analyst Program’s methodology and approach, which is “very pragmatic and very real world.”

Added Stewart: “The Financial Analyst Program prepared us invaluably for this competition. If we hadn’t been in this course, we wouldn’t have known what was going on. There’s no way we would have gotten this done.”

The team is looking forward to representing FAU and the state of Florida at the regional competitions and global final, which will take place the week of April 11 in Chicago. They also understand there’s a lot of work still to come over the next several weeks.

“The hard work doesn’t stop,” Schwartzmann said. “We want to hit this hard. We want to go in there knowing this company like the back of our hand.”

Having beaten UF, last year’s Americas regional final co-champions, they’re feeling good about their chances.

“I think that the Florida region is one of the most competitive,” said Engstrom, the only graduate student on the team. “The fact that we competed against 10 other schools and had to defeat the defending national co-champion, I think we’re in a good position to really attack the national competition.”

-FAU-

©