The annual CFA Institute Research Challenge is a global competition that consists of several stages. It aims to hone students’ analytical, valuation, report writing, and presentation skills. Senior professionals from leading global asset management institutions act as judges.
Representing NUS Business School for the University round were Lam Jing Jie (BBA Year 2) and his team. The idea of joining the challenge was first mooted when he met Corneles through the NUS Investment Society. Both decided that the Challenge would be a good place to start learning and gaining competition experience.
“We felt that it would be good for our personal growth, while broadening our perspectives on the finance industry,” said Jing Jie. “We then formed a team with our respective friends and the chemistry was instantaneous.”
Burning the midnight oil
As novices, they knew they had to put in extra work and spent many late nights in school as well as teammates’ homes to develop their presentation. The team met about three times a week, each time spending approximately four to eight hours together.
One of the challenges they faced was in financial modelling where they had to simulate financial projections for the case company – Sea Limited. Financial modelling requires a lot of attention to detail; one small mistake may cause the entire model to go awry. Based on their research, the team issued a “buy” recommendation for the stock.
As the team were not experienced in financial modelling, they spent hours putting their heads together to get things right. They also reached out to their friends in the NUS Investment Society who shared some valuable dos and don’ts for such competitions. For example, they could stand out by including technical and analytic inputs like doing a well-covered scenario and sensitivity analysis.
Naturally, the team was nervous about looking like rookies in front of industry professionals. “To help quell one another’s nerves, we told one another that our objective was to learn and we have already achieved that by joining the Challenge. This helped to transform our mindset as we all realised we had nothing to lose,” Jing Jie said.
While the team presented clearly and confidently, they lacked the technical expertise their seniors had. Still the third place outcome was a surprise.
According to Jing Jie, “this was an extremely fruitful competition where my team and I gained valuable knowledge in areas like corporate finance and financial modelling. We also got better in terms of analysing industry and macro trends. We did not win the NUS Internal Round, but we grew closer and became good friends.
For juniors looking to join similar competition sin the future, he had this advice to share – “Have the mentality that you’re in this to learn. As long as you don’t give up, you will become more knowledgeable, and the results may surprise you. I would strongly recommend my peers to participate in this competition. Step out of your comfort zone, you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve!”
From left: Lai Yuen, Lam Jing Jie, Yang Pei Qi, Kester Wu, Corneles Jaemes D’silva, all BBA Year 2 students.