Do you wish to land a role in investment banking, equity research, asset management or simply master your technical and presentation skills? Achieving that in such a competetive area is no walk in a park. However, we spoke to industry professionals, UZH professors and Finance Club alumni and they all agree on thing; the CFA Investment Challenge is a great way to increase your chances.
Watch the video and read the post below to see what they have to say and to find out more about the challenge.
What is the CFA Investment Challenge?
The CFA Investment Challenge is an annual global student competition that provides students with the opportunity to conduct a hands-on, in-depth analysis of a public firm. During this 6 ECTS course offered by the University of Zurich, you and your team of 3-5 students are tested in a role of an equity research analyst in a number of areas such as analysis, valuation, report writing and presentation skills.
To put it simply, your task is to put a price on a firm and pitch a 10-minute presentation to a group of investors on your recommendation (buy/hold/sell) as well as write an equity report, where you summarise your main arguments and showcase the financial model. For a further overview and an example of such a report, you can refer to the Corporate Finance Institute.
Why should you join the challenge?
Due to the practical nature of the course, the Challenge is a great differentiating factor in your resume and will set you apart from the rest of the talent pool. It is no secret that numerous CFA Challenge graduates get contacted and recruited on the merit of participating in it – recruiters are cognizant of the knowledge and skillset that comes with taking part in the Challenge. As a Challenge graduate, you will have an opportunity to meet the companies at several networking sessions.
Such was the case at the end of the Challenge, when an apéro with the Challenge sponsors was organised in 2021, when HR representatives and investment professionals from BCG, Credit Suisse, KPMG and Citi attended the event. We asked them to share their thoughts on the Challenge and their reason for inviting us to the event:
"In the past, we were able to source outstanding talent from the CFA challenge for investment related roles, since they do not only bring along best-in-class theoretical knowledge but also learned to put it in practice with the challenge and more importantly showed strong resilience and team work throughout the journey.”
Katrin Hita - Vice President Equity Sales - Citi
“At BCG we often recruit candidates who have participated in the CFA Challenge because the skills they need and apply during the CFA Challenge are the exact same skills which we look for in a candidate: analytical skills, communication skills & presentation skills, just to name a few. Also, working in a team under time pressure is a skills set which we highly appreciate at BCG."
Leonora Cottiati - Senior Recruiter - BCG
As a cherry on top, you will get a lot of exposure to different trainings over the course of the Challenge. For example, you will likely have voice and presentation seminars organised by a professional coach sponsored by the university or have the opportunity to present in front of investment bankers and analyst from Swiss banks. The knowledge gained in these sessions is invaluable and highly transferrable.
How is the Challenge structured?
Throughout the semester, you will be meeting once a week to update the professors on your progress, as well as receive theoretical coaching in corporate finance. The official start of the Challenge is in September and it runs for one semester. If you successfully pass the university round, the duration of the Challenge is extended depending on how far you progress.
You will work in a a relatively small group of highly motivated students who learn from a pool of selected professors of the Institute of Banking & Finance from University of Zurich. In the past, Prof. Dr. Michel Habib, Prof. Dr. Per Östberg and Prof. Dr. Christoph Wenk made themselves available for the weekly sessions.
We would like to finish the blog post with a quote form the course director, Prof. Dr. Michel Habib:
"The CFA Challenge is, in my opinion, the closest there is to the Olympic Games of Corporate Finance for which I would like to quote Jesse Owens from famous 1936 Olympic Games: "If you don't try to win you might as well hold the Olympics in somebody's back yard."
Prof. Dr. Michel Habib - Professor of Finance and CFA Challenge Facilitator
We hope this post provided a better overview on the CFA Challenge and convinced you to enroll and bring victory to the UZH. So, what are you waiting for?