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CFA Society Toronto News


Jennifer Vieno, CFA

Every year teams from universities and colleges compete in the CFA Institute Research Challenge and the CFA Societies Canada Ethics Challenge, hosted by local CFA Societies. The challenges provide students with opportunities to hone their research and presentation skills and compete against teams from across Canada and the world. I reached out to both winning teams to get their thoughts on the challenge and their advice for future participants. 


This annual global equity research competition tests each team’s ability to value a stock, write an initiation-of-coverage report, and present their recommendations. The four top-scoring teams advanced to the local finals, where they presented their research on February 17, 2022. 

Winning team: Ziming Gao, Muhammad Sadiq, Alice Qin, and Murtaza Zaidi from the University of Waterloo, School of Accounting and Finance. Team members were aided by faculty mentor Steve Balaban, CFA, and industry mentor Jeannine LiChong, CFA. 

The University of Waterloo team moved on to the sub-regional competition, where teams competed to move on to the semi-finals on April 7, 2022, and the global finals on May 16, 2022. 

What did you find to be the most difficult aspect of the challenge? 

The most difficult aspect was anticipating potential questions and coming up with strong answers. There could be a myriad of different questions surrounding any small aspect of the presentation and the company. We had to make sure we addressed as many of these potential questions as possible so no surprises would come during our actual presentation. 

What did you find to be the most enjoyable aspect of putting together your analysis? 

The most enjoyable aspect of this analysis was when the team was stumped by an erroneous formula in the model and we stayed up quite late to solve it. The whole team’s joint effort made it fun, and the fact that we were all putting our heads together for the same thing, knowing that we were not alone. In the end, it turned out to be a relatively simple fix that we were all overthinking. This made the experience more memorable, since the whole team had a good laugh in the end, despite the hours we had put into solving the issue. 

Do you think this challenge will help prepare you for your career? How so? 

Definitely yes! When preparing for the Q&A, we asked each other questions and invited friends and alumni in the field to ask questions about our presentation. It trained our critical thinking, and we also learned about industry professionals’ thought processes when looking at a company. This provided us with more experiential learning and many networking opportunities. 

What advice would you give to future teams looking to participate in this challenge? 

Never feel discouraged. There will be times when the model isn’t working, the thesis logic has fallacies, or the presentation is going over time. Think critically and analytically about how these problems can be resolved. If your team is lost for answers, reach out for help from your faculty and industry mentor!


This challenge tests each team’s awareness of ethical dilemmas. Participants are provided a real-life investment scenario, and they must analyze the scenario and then present their analysis and recommendations to a panel of judges. 

Winning team: Rishika Bhatia, Yusuf Jiruwala, Juhi Maru, Kaustubh Sharma, and Anbochao Wang from York University, Schulich School of Business. The team was mentored by faculty advisor Gregory Pau. 

On May 6, 2022, this team competed at the national competition, where finalists from across Canada vied for the national title. 

What did you find to be the most difficult aspect of the challenge? 

Communicating the essence of the key episodes of the case in under ten minutes was a big challenge for us. It required a thorough understanding of the CFA codes and the consequences of violating them. The ethical decision-making process we learned in the CFA Institute Ethics Learning Lab came in handy when tackling this challenge. Moreover, the virtual format brought in its own set of challenges, especially because two of our team members were in different time zones. In the end, all the demanding work paid off, and, in the process, we learned a lot about team building and collaboration. 

Do you think this challenge will help prepare you for your career? How so? 

Being aspiring finance professionals, demonstrating ethical conduct at our everyday job would be the top expectation from any employer in any industry. This competition undoubtedly introduced us to some crossroads we might experience in our respective careers. Competing and winning the local challenge boosted our confidence and prepared us to deal with the ethical dilemmas we might witness. Moreover, learning from the ethical decision-making framework, applying critical thinking, and collaborating as a team were key victories. 

What advice would you give to future teams looking to participate in this challenge? 

We think the competition tested our ability to think critically while solving the case. Regurgitating case facts may not be the best strategy. Instead, the focus should be on how you would react when witnessing similar situations in your professional careers. Your deliverable must satisfy the evaluation criteria given in advance. Finally, your approach to the Q&A could be a vital decision factor for judges. CFA_Toronto_RGB Milly

Jennifer Vieno, CFA, is an ESG Manager Research, Technology, Media, and Telecommunications at Sustainalytics and is also volunteer Co-Vice Chair of CFA Society Toronto’s Member Communications Committee. 

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