Business and Ethics / People of SU

Competition Hones Students’ Business Acuity

Written by Allison Nitch

April 11, 2022

Screenshot of Zoom call featuring CFA team members. Bottom square reads CFA Society Seattle.

Image credit: CFA Society Seattle

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The CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) Institute Research Challenge provides university students with hands-on mentoring and real-world skills in the financial field.

Since 2009, students from the Albers School of Business and Economics have represented Seattle University in the annual CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) Institute Research Challenge—a global competition that provides university students with hands-on mentoring and intensive training in financial analysis and professional ethics.

The CFA challenge is an opportunity for students at participating universities to learn about stock analysis and valuation. During the competition, students develop and strengthen their analytical, valuation, report writing and presentation skills in a team format. By assuming the role of research analysts, teams gain real-world experience in equity research. 

The challenge also provides students from different business programs with an opportunity to interact and learn from each other. This year, the team includes both graduate and undergraduate students from four Albers programs: Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration (BABA), Master of Science in Finance (MSF), Professional Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Online MBA.

For the 10th time in the last 13 years, Albers students have once again placed first in the Seattle CFA Society Research Challenge and went on to compete in the Western U.S. Sub-Regional Round. This year’s team includes Prasantik Ghosh, ’22, Harry Liu, ’22, Lia Matias, ’23, Joseph Rouse, ’22 and Richa Prabhu Verleker, ‘22. 

“While I learned a lot about the technical skills required to take on this process, for me the most important skill I learned was working with a team,” says Lia Matias, a junior majoring in Management. “Often we have teamwork for classes and clubs, but the CFA challenge required constant collaboration and especially as an undergraduate student who had so much to learn.”

Teammate Joseph Rouse explains the group has been focusing on financial valuation of Funko, a pop-culture figurine company.

“In a financial valuation, we create Excel models to identify the present value of future cash flows. We also value the company based on how well it compares to its peers in the industry. This is all finalized with a presentation about our findings and opinions regarding the current value of the company,” explains Rouse. “During the course of this project, we had a video conference with Funko’s director of investor relations, visited their retail store to perform a customer survey and learned new financial models to assess past and future performance.”

As listed on the CFA Institute site, local level competitions are organized and judged by CFA Institute society members and volunteers who function as local hosts. The winning university team from each local competition advances to the sub-regional competition.

The team has been working closely with Professor of Finance Katya Emm, PhD. As faculty advisor, she provides guidance to the team throughout the competition and serve as a primary university contact with the local host of the CFA Institute Research Challenge.  

“The key element in coaching a strong team includes providing both technical and strategic guidance,” explains Emm. “However, at the end of the day, success depends on the commitment of everyone on the team to put months of consistent hard work.”

Being that the CFA Institute Research Challenge provides business students with an opportunity to extend their learning beyond the traditional classroom setting, Emm shares that “it’s rewarding to contribute to this unique learning experience, with its impact on students’ professional and personal growth.”

To learn more about the CFA Institute Research Challenge, visit


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