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EDUCATION: SA Finance Students to Battle for International Honours


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The CFA Institute Global Investment Research Challenge offers students the unique opportunity to learn from leading industry experts and compete with peers from the world's top universities. This annual educational initiative is designed to promote best practices in equity research among the next generation of analysts. This is achieved through hands-on mentoring in company analysis and presentation skills. Over the course of the competition, each university team is mentored by industry professionals, and writes an equity research report on a publicly traded company. The teams then present their findings to a distinguished panel of experts.

Students from the University of Pretoria (UP), UCT and the University of Johannesburg (UJ) were mentored by South Africa’s foremost investment analysts to take part in the local Challenge, held by CFA South Africa last October. The team from UCT walked away with first prize in the Challenge and will shortly compete in the regional Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) challenge, taking place in Istanbul on March 25, 2010.

The President of CFA South Africa, Arthur Thompson, notes that the three participating teams provided reports and presentations which showcase local investment talent. “South Africa is a prominent member of CFA Institute and the victorious university, UCT, will hold our flag high, again, proving our mettle on the global stage. The mark they make is not only for themselves, but also emphasises the commitment of South African students of investment management to the highest standards of ethics and analysis."

UCT scooped the challenge with a thorough research report, investment analysis and presentation on the South African listed company Tongaat Hulett.

Absa Investments analyst and challenge judge Chris Gilmour adds that, South African investment students, however, has an added disadvantage from the international entrants to the competition, as those competing internationally have many more companies that can be analysed whereas, South Africa only has 400 companies registered on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). Secondly, they have much more information available to them than here in South Africa. “It has improved a lot but, our limited access to valued information does create an obstacle.”

UP Department of Financial Management senior lecturer and CFA South Africa board member Elbie Louw says that, the Challenge gives students the opportunity to further their much needed real-life skills which, they will need once they have qualified and enter the financial services industry. "It is encouraging to see the high level of diligence and skill that South Africa's students demonstrate. UCT should be proud of such a high-level accomplishment from its team.”

Investment manager at Absa Asset Management Michael van Andel was a grader on the reports written by the various students and noted that the students had worked very hard on their presentations. “I think that overall, they did an excellent job on the work they presented, given that they have very little or no actual investment experience. The background information was generally useful, although there were a number of areas where candidates did not translate their theoretical knowledge into practical application. I think that the Challenge can become an important learning-ground for up-and-coming analysts to bridge the gap between theory and practice, learning to properly apply the knowledge they have acquired.”

The winners from the EMEA regional challenge will be advanced to the global final that will be taking place in Hong Kong on April 17, 2010. CFA South Africa will be supporting the UCT team as they progress to the next level of the competition.

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