UMaine wins CFA Society Maine 2021 Research Challenge

The University of Maine brought home the CFA Institute Research Challenge state title for the second year in a row. MaineMBA students Robert Harvey and Daniel Thomas and undergraduate student Nicole Pelletier were led by MBS team advisor, Dr. Pankaj Agrrawal.

Pankaj Agrrawal, Ph.D.
Pankaj Agrrawal, Ph.D.

“This was an outcome of steady, consistent, and devoted work by the team captained by Robert,” Dr. Agrrawal says. “I’m glad they defended the CFA title and am privileged to be part of the many months of background work on the research.”

Two teams of Maine Business School and Graduate School of Business students are taking part in the 2021 annual Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute Research Challenge. This global competition offers the students real-world experience as research analysts. Students get actual exposure to a Maine-based listed company’s finances and receive hands-on mentoring in financial analysis and professional ethics. Students are tested on their analytical, valuation, report writing, and presentation skills. 

“While this competition is a huge amount of extra work for the students, they rise to the challenge,” Dr. Agrrawal says. “The raising of the bar during the process, exploring new methods of analysis with the assigned team mentors, the industry linkages, and the exposure is all priceless.” 

This year’s teams include Nicholas Barto, Tee Soul II, and Kevin Williams on Team A. Their assigned industry mentor is Vincent Damasco from R. M. Davis. State title winners on Team B include Robert Harvey, Nicole Pelletier, and Daniel Thomas. Their industry advisor is Michael C. Moore, CFA, from Bigelow Investment Advisors. Both firms are located in Portland, Maine.

“When I received information regarding joining this year’s CFA Research Challenge, I knew immediately that I wanted to participate,” Daniel Thomas says. “I’m currently a level II CFA Candidate, so it was the perfect chance to gain some hands-on experience relevant to the CFA program.”

Students at Maine colleges and universities have been researching the financial prospects of IDEXX Labs, a global company in the area of veterinary diagnostics with an annual revenue of $2.5 billion. By design, the companies included in the competition are from Maine. The Maine state finals took place on February 24, 2021, and the national competition will be held in April. In 2020, the Maine Business School team, consisting of Samuel Varga, Nargiz Ali Zada, and Nikki Yutuc, placed first in the state competition. They subsequently presented in New York City for the national competition. 

Nicole Pelletier, the only undergraduate to take part in the CFA Institute Research Challenge this year, was encouraged to get involved by Nikki Yutuc from the 2020 winning team. “Daniel, Robert, and I put dozens of hours into our paper and presentation,” Pelletier says. “We have been working on this project since late November, and I don’t think we have taken a week off. I think I speak for all of us when I say I am so proud to represent the University of Maine, especially all of the faculty, industry professionals, and past students that have paved the way for us to be able to participate and supported us throughout the process.”

Dr. Agrrawal is elated that UMaine retained the CFA Championship state title. “The Maine Business School is now being seen in southern Maine and beyond as having a strong finance program that produces quality students at undergraduate and MBA levels,” he says. The Maine Business School has a strong faculty, and with support from undergraduate and graduate leadership, the students are finding jobs in established finance companies. “As a direct result of our participation in this competition, two industry analysts will soon guest lecture in our classes, and one of them wants to build an internship program with the MBS.”