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Student Team Advances to Regional Finals of CFA Research Challenge

CFA Challenge participants
Finance student participants (left to right) were Sean Cato, Crystal Banda and Kevin Espinosa.

A team of UTSA undergraduate finance majors advanced to the regional finals of the CFA Institute Research Challenge. The competition, which was hosted at UTSA, featured 10 teams from leading business schools in Texas and Louisiana.

Team members were seniors Crystal Banda, Sean Cato and Kevin Espinosa.

The CFA Institute Research Challenge is an annual competition that promotes best practices in equity research among the next generation of analysts. Students work in teams to research and value a publicly-traded company.

With a long history of UTSA success in the competition, Banda recruited fellow Investment Society members Cato and Espinosa to participate. Ron Sweet, MBA ’91, lecturer and Investment Society advisor, served as their mentor.

“I wanted to represent UTSA and have the opportunity for hands-on learning,” said Espinosa, who will intern with Goldman Sachs this summer. “I’ve gained an arsenal of analytical and technical skills from my work in the Investment Society that I wanted to apply.”

In December they were given the research assignment—Trecora, a Sugar Land-based petrochemical company. The team wrote a 10-page research report on their assigned company with a buy, sell or hold recommendation. Finalists then presented and defended their analysis to a panel of industry professionals.

“I was able to network with employees at Valero and gain insights into the oil and gas industry,” said Cato, who is interning with Valero in commercial analysis and graduating next fall.

The team worked late nights during multiple weekends before submitting their final report in February.

“Knowledge that I gained from my internship with Andeavor and from my Security Analysis class were key in helping me understand this industry,” said Banda, who will graduate this May and work in finance at Baker Hughes in Houston.

Looking back on the experience, each member noted that beyond the financial knowledge they gained, one of the most valuable aspects was learning to work as a team.

 “It has been a great learning experiences,” said Banda. “I wanted and needed to be pushed out of my comfort zone. Competitions like these are the perfect way to practice new skills that will enhance your professional future.”

–Wendy Frost

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