The UPF Barcelona School of Management team has been selected to attend the semifinal of the CFA Research Challenge 2021 to be held on March 3. The members of the group, Annick Torres, Pablo Núñez, Aude Hegetschweiler and Mohammed Hamad i Alsaif, are students of the Master of Science in Finance. The CFA Research Challange is a global competition in which more than 5,000 students participate each year from more than a thousand universities with the aim of training participants in financial analysis. This year, the challenge focuses on analyzing CaixaBank to prepare a report with recommendations for shareholders.
The UPF-BSM finance professor and team tutor, Felipe Canhavate, explains that students "have to search for information and apply all their technical knowledge of business valuation, strategy, industry, analysis to write the report." Canhavate, who has been his mentor, has been the guide of the students in the process of facing the problems, the subject, structuring the text, making a solid analysis and has coordinated the team, to ensure success: "We have given all the possible feedback to write a good report ".
"It is a competition on a global scale with the best universities and the best programs that seeks that students learn in the best way, with practice," says Canhavate, who is happy to be "close to the students who are taking the Challenge for the first time and having been able to help them get their deserved place in the Spanish finals. "
Student Pablo Núñez values the challenge as "a great opportunity to develop an equity research analysis based on a real merger in the banking system, while receiving feedback from top-level professionals, such as industry specialists or the assigned mentor." It also highlights that "not only the analysis of a real case has enormous educational value, but also the specific fact of analyzing a financial institution that is about to merge; it has substantially helped us to consolidate the financial knowledge learned in our graduate program ".
According to Canhavate, the current challenge is "significantly more difficult than the previous one for three reasons: CaixaBank is a financial institution that undergoes a great merger at very uncertain and transformative times. First, having a financial institution as the axis of the challenge adds a new degree of complexity and novelty for participants, especially in financial analysis and valuations. Second, the merger between CaixaBank and Bankia contributes to developing students' knowledge and analysis on finance, mergers and acquisitions and corporate governance. " In addition, the contest is not alien to the impact of the pandemic and this adds difficulties in the analysis: "2021 is the first year in which students have had to fully consider the impacts of covid-19 not only in short-term forecasts term, but also in long-term structural changes. "
Núñez adds that, apart from hard skills, "we can highlight the development of soft skills such as industry knowledge, flexibility or adaptability and, obviously, teamwork, among others."
As for how the master has helped them in the process, the student highlights that "from the beginning of the course, we have been taught to evaluate the valuation using a set of financial tools such as discount models or relative valuation. In addition, to develop this analysis we have to understand the key drivers of value for the company and the company's performance through the main significant ratios. Furthermore, we have understood the need to thoroughly analyze companies to assess not only financial or economic risks but the general risks of investments, as regulatory authorities or governance management could have key implications for the company. "
The tutor has only positive words about the chosen team: "They have successfully built a coherent team and have worked together throughout the tasks; being able to coordinate well within teams is essential in the financial community. Also, according to the teacher" they have demonstrated their ability to apply themselves to the Challenge concepts that they had been studying in the masters and to learn more by exploring topics and tools that were completely new to them. "
Núñez recommends participating in the Challange because, as he says, "it is a great means to link our educational experience in the professional world. In addition, in the development of the report, the student evaluates several challenges that allow him to deepen his understanding of the field of finance".
The CFA Institute is an American association that seeks to create superior standards in the financial industry. To this end, the institute hosts this annual global competition that provides students with hands-on tutoring and intensive training in financial analysis and professional ethics. The local competitions are organized and evaluated by members of the society and volunteers of the CFA Institute who function as local hosts. Each winning varsity team in the local categories advances in the sub-regional competition to go on to compete on a regional and global scale. This year, all the events of the challenge will be held virtually and the world final will be held on April 22.
The semifinal will consist of a 10 minute presentation and a Q&A session. Students will present their report to the court and representatives of CaixaBank with the conclusions and recommendations for investors to buy, sell or hold the shares. Finally there will be a ceremony that will feature all the finalists from CUNEF 5, EADA, ESADE and IE.