Finance Students Reach Nationals
A team of UTSA finance majors advanced to the national CFA Research Challenge in Chicago this spring—beating out 26 competitors from schools such as Rice, Texas Tech and UT-Dallas. This was the second time that a UTSA team had advanced to nationals.
Team members were Andrew Alvarez, graduate student; Juan Pablo Castrellon, ’15; Matthew Chavana, senior; and Kenneth Foote, ’16.
The CFA Institute Research Challenge is an annual competition that promotes best practices in equity research among the next generation of analysts. Students work in teams to research and value a publicly-traded company. Each team writes a 10-page research report on their assigned company with a buy, sell or hold recommendation and then presents and defends their analysis to a panel of industry professionals.
“We met daily over the span of the five-month competition and worked tirelessly to perfect our pitch,” said Alvarez. “Airlines have very intricate financial statements that require a very thorough analysis.”
“I didn’t realize how massive Southwest Airlines was or how much power they wielded in the industry until undertaking this process,” said Chavana. “They are the second largest carrier in the world.”
Based on their analysis, the team approached the challenge somewhat differently than their peers. “First, we forecasted the fuel expenses using historical data,” said Foote. “Then, the majority of our presentation focused on salaries and wages. Eighty-three percent of their workforce is unionized.”
“Their report was one of the strongest submitted by a UTSA team,” said Ron Sweet, MBA ’91, finance faculty member and Investment Society advisor. “They were extremely well prepared and did some very advanced analysis.”
“Advancing to nationals was our goal,” said Foote. “We went from learning it in the textbooks to applying the knowledge to real life problems. This has been an incredible experience.”
Business Students Help Local Charities
Students in Matthew McCarter’s Organizational Behavior and Management class recently completed an experiential learning project that resulted in almost $25,000 being raised for local charities.
The UTSA Apprentice exercise places each student on a team that must plan, organize and manage a third-party fundraising event for a local charity.
While some teams hosted events such as golf outings, dodgeball tournaments and bowling events, one team thought outside the box and raised over $15,000 from almost 1,200 pounds of donated clothing.
“When students experience management theory and principles through hands-on learning in the field, the theories and principles they learn in class become their maps, their compasses and their tools to navigate them out of a problem.”
“I’ve never had a team accomplish something that extravagant before,” said McCarter, associate professor of management in the UTSA College of Business.
This high-performing team was comprised of graduate students Grant Lucas, Sarah Meek and Andrew Wilcoxson. Their team chose to work with Hill Country Family Services, an organization that provides food and emergency financial support to Kendall County families, since Lucas had previously supported this organization.
“A lot of our success was being able to work with the charity and come up with ideas that would benefit them,” said Meek, team project manager. “We listened to their ideas and were able to draw upon their past experiences.”
The team learned that 45 percent of the organization’s revenue came from their thrift store, so they decided to organize a clothing drive and partner with area churches.
Applying skills learned from the classroom, the project allowed the teams to practice their negotiation, project management and leadership skills in a real-world setting.