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Friday, September 21, 2018

Academics & Research

Business students win regional competition


(From left) Business graduate students Paul Stewart, Karen Herbst, Luis Lugo and Lenny Bianco won first place in a competition for their work managing a $7 million investment fund. They will again compete against top tier schools later this month. | Courtesy of Jessica Navarro

A team of C.T. Bauer College of Business graduate students won first place in an investment challenge competition hosted by Southern Methodist University and sponsored by the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute.

The winning team, whose members met each other in the Cougar Fund class, was named the best in Texas and the Gulf Coast Region and will compete in the national CFA competition in New York March 18.

The four UH graduate students, Paul Stewart, Luis Lugo, Karen Herbst and Lenny Bianco, agreed that the Feb. 20 competition in Dallas was a good experience and preparation for competition against top-tier business schools in New York.

“This has been a great experience. We started to work together since Dec. 1 when we got our company, Rent-a-Center, assigned,” Stewart said. “In New York, all the business schools competing will be doing different companies to choose a winner.”

According to a Bauer press release, “the Cougar Investment Fund is a $7 million private investment fund managed by graduate students. The Fund’s purpose is to give students the opportunity to gain experience in the management of an investment portfolio while providing a diversified investment vehicle for its investors.”

“A lot of those schools invest some of the endowment for the school. We actually invest individual money,” Lugo said.

Herbst said that this is the first time the members managed this kind of money.

For Lugo, team chemistry and great individual talent helped in winning the regional competition.

“I think we were lucky that we had four different people with four different strengths, and we combined them all together and made one product,” he said. “Our goal is to do the same thing in New York.”

In the Dallas competition, each team had to submit a 10-page, written analysis, present for 10 minutes and answer questions from judges of the CFA societies of Houston and Dallas. The final result was decided based equally on the reports and presentations.

For the New York competition, things will be different. Twenty-eight teams will participate, including schools such as the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and MIT. Schools from Canada, Mexico and Brazil will also compete. The scoring is completely based on the presentation, which includes 10 minutes to present the company and 10 minutes of Q-and-A format.

“It is a real intense 20 minutes to spit out three or four months worth of work,” Lugo said. “We have invested a lot of the time, but it has been worth it.”

For Bianco, who is an analyst in the Cougar Investment Fund, the competition was quite challenging.

Bianco said the team is excited and ready to compete again.

“We know the company inside and out. We only have to practice our presentation, practice the Q and A and we will do great,” he said. “This is probably the best team experience I have ever had academically and professionally.”

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