Strathmore students participate in CFA challenge
Two teams from the Strathmore Institute of Mathematical Sciences (SIMS) took second and third positions out of six teams in the East Africa Certified Financial Analyst (CFA) research challenge. The second-placed team led by Ida Mwangi, tied with Makerere University on the report submission stage but was beaten by a small margin at the presentation stage. Her team members were Ken Muturi, Wayne Matengo and Jackline Mwaniki.
The CFA Institute Research Challenge is an annual global competition that provides university students with hands-on mentoring and intensive training in financial analysis and professional ethics. Each student is tested on their analytical, valuation, report writing, and presentation skills. They gain real-world experience as they assume the role of a research analyst.
The competition began with five Strathmore teams in the initial stage of the competition. The top two teams were then selected to represent Strathmore at the country level competition in which other Kenyan universities participated after which they proceeded to represent Kenya in the East Africa local competition. This competition is organized and judged by CFA Institute society members and volunteers. The winning university team from each local competition advances to one of the three regional competitions.
Regional and global competitions
The regional and global competitions are hosted by CFA Institute in the Americas; the Asia Pacific; and the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) regions. The winning teams from each regional competition advance to the Global Final, where one team emerges as the global champion.
This year’s challenge required the teams to carry out equity research on the Nairobi Stock Exchange. The teams were graded by report submission and presentations made. The teams had faculty advisors as well as industry mentors: Caroline Kiragu from NIC Capital and Doris Gatari, from Madison Insurance.
Gaining soft skills
The challenge was an opportunity for the students to supplement the theory learnt in class and to gain soft skills in team work, people management, and self-presentation skills. The months leading up to the competition call for team work, intense study and high analytical skills. For John Gitonga, team leader for the third placed team comprising Samson Mzera, Diana Adhiambo, Kenneth Kirumba and Patsy Mugabi, the competition increased his technical skills and solidified his interests in finance. “The effort that goes into it is immense. This is when you discover what being a financial analyst is all about. You then approach your studies and professional life in a different way,” he says.
Ida, describing the teamwork that was involved, emphasised that there was no room for half-heartedness. “All of us had to be in it fully because we would all be required to answer questions during the presentation. We had to give it our all.”
Despite not qualifying for the EMEA regional competition, the two teams gained lessons from the competition. “You enter into a competition knowing you can either win or lose. It is a huge learning curve. The third-years should definitely go for it. Perhaps they can learn from our mistakes. If I had to do it differently, I would start the groundwork earlier,” John said.
“We had evaluation meetings throughout the competition where we would give feedback on our team members’ strengths and weaknesses. This taught us skills on people management,” Ida said.
This article was written by Wambui Gachari.
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