Plenty of preparation and support helped a student team from SUNY Oswego recently place second in the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute Research Challenge for the Western New York regional competition.

The team consisted of Dan Bergin, Tyler Hughes, Noah Jones, Brayan Reyes and Andrew Saunders.

“Even had we not placed in the top tier, success was achieved as our students increased their confidence and took their analytical skills to a whole new level,” said Mary Tone Rodgers, Marcia Belmar Willock Professor of Finance in Oswego’s School of Business, who advised the team.

“We have been working on the project for six months now,” said Bergin, the team captain. “We have spent countless hours working on spreadsheets, models, graphs, research, writing and presenting every week since September. We worked very hard to make sure we could deliver an engaging and knowledgeable presentation and a professional analysis and valuation paper. I think we reached our goal.”

The project required researching, writing and presenting in a professional manner about the valuation of a company’s stock. The competition provided “invaluable experience presenting and defending our sell recommendation in front of a panel of judges made up of professional CFAs,” Bergin said. “We learned what it’s like to thoroughly research, analyze and evaluate a company. We developed confidence in presenting and defending our opinions. I think the entire experience has helped us greatly with our development as professionals.”

Bergin offered praise for Rodgers as “a tremendous mentor and role model, and we are lucky to have her. I could not thank her enough for everything she has taught us and done for us.”

A double major in accounting and finance, Bergin also pointed to excellent team chemistry. “A few of us were friends before joining the team but now we are all good friends,” he noted. “The grind is worth it when you are working with people you like.”

Strong support

Rodgers cited a strong network of alumni and support from the college as critical as well.

Matt Wilson, a 2013 SUNY Oswego graduate who is now director of equity research at Oppenheimer & Co., “acted as a superb Industry mentor, critiquing the paper, hosting the team for lunch in Manhattan and pointing us again and again to the quarterly earnings calls as critical resources,” Rodgers said.

Past CFA team members and current faculty prepared the team with questions at a rehearsal, including alumni Dan Snyder, Nick Schneller, Mike Ferrara and Sami Rajput, plus faculty members Graig Arcuri, Dave DiRoma, Hong Wan and School of Business Dean Prabakar Kothandaraman.

Our industry mentor Matt Wilson gave us great advice and insight into the CFA industry,” Bergin said. “The dean and staff of the School of Business helped us greatly with preparation of our presentation. The members from the 2019 CFA team gave us a lot of support as well.”

Those 2019 team members -- Dillon Nimako, Ahmed Albajari, Amy Alba and Sean Paul Owen -- Skyped in for support. Two additional alumni, Jeff Silber and Mark Prezioso, met with the students or provided written comments.

Rodgers added that the CFA curriculum expertise provided by Kothandaraman,  Assistant Dean Raihan Khan, department chair Dean Crawford, past dean Richard Skolnik and professor Eric Tsai also proved valuable.

“We are so grateful for everyone's time and expertise,” Rodgers said.

“I think that because of this experience, we are collectively more prepared to go into the real world of business with confidence and succeed,” Bergin said.