Colby-Sawyer College Students to Compete in CFA Institute Research Challenge Finals

Colby-Sawyer College, a comprehensive college that integrates the liberal arts and sciences with professional preparation, is proud to announce that students from its Investment Management course faced down challengers from some of New England’s most prestigious educational institutions to advance to the final round of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute Research Challenge, a global equity research competition that provides students with hands-on mentoring and intensive training in financial analysis.

The Colby-Sawyer team will compete at the finals on Thursday, Feb. 25, against Brandeis, MIT and Northeastern for a chance to advance to the Americas Regional in April. The winners there will advance to the Global Final.

Senior business administration majors Luke Aspell of Woodstock, Vt.; Anh Duong, Tra Le and Duc Trinh from Vietnam; and Matt Nolan of Meredith, N.H., represented Colby-Sawyer at the Greater Boston event, researching and analyzing an assigned publicly traded company (The TJX Companies, Inc.) for a panel of industry professionals. Each team was required to write an analyst report on their assigned company with a buy, sell or hold recommendation.

The team competed against groups from Babson College, Bentley University, Boston College, Boston University, Brandeis University, Northeastern University, Suffolk University, the University of Massachusetts at Boston, Tufts University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). They heard at the end of January that they had advanced.

“Colby-Sawyer’s advancement to the final round is an even more impressive feat considering that our team consisted solely of undergraduate students and it was the first time our students have taken part in this challenge,” said team adviser and Investment Management instructor Christopher Kubik, D.B.A., associate professor of Business Administration. “I am very proud of our students’ efforts and know they are capable of moving to the Americas Regional round later this spring.”

Throughout the competition, students gained valuable experience in all aspects of working as professional research analysts and attended professional presentations with leading industry professionals, including the chief financial officer of TJX Companies, Scott Goldenberg.

Challenge rules allow teams to be assisted by an industry mentor, as well as an adviser from their institution. Colby-Sawyer’s industry mentor, first-time participant and Boston-based business consultant Ilonna Rimm, Ph.D., C.F.A., spent several months helping the students develop their written research. “Dr. Rimm not only assisted us in understanding better how an investor and analyst think in real life, but she also helped us work in a group more efficiently by identifying strengths, weaknesses and expectations of each team member,” said Trinh. “These lessons will stay with us forever.”

Prior to participating in the challenge, students in Professor Kubik’s Investment Management course had the opportunity to manage an equity portfolio worth nearly half a million dollars of real money. “This class forced us to stay up to date on the markets and taught us how to analyze every aspect of a company. Through fundamental and technical analysis, we made decisions on what the portfolio should be comprised of with only moderate supervision from Professor Kubik,” said Aspell. “This was by far the most beneficial class I have taken at Colby-Sawyer.”

Moving into the finals, Aspell and his teammates are not afraid to embrace their underdog status. “Many people underestimate a small liberal arts school from New Hampshire,” said Aspell, “but we are ready for a tough competition.”

About the CFA Institute Research Challenge

The first CFA Institute Research Challenge competition was hosted by the New York Society of Security Analysts in 2002. Since then, nearly 100 local-level competitions have been established, leading to the national and global competition that has grown to involve more than 4,000 students from more than 800 universities in 70 countries. Learn more about the challenge at