CFA moves on to National Arena

By Jesse PR Prieto

News Editor

Canisius College’s CFA won first plCanisius-CFA-3.jpgace at the regional level of the Chartered Financial Analyst Competition for its 6th consecutive year, thrusting the team and the good name of the College onto the national stage once more.

Having inherited a strong reputation from last year’s international victory, this year’s team were emboldened last Monday after knocking out Ivy League schools, research universities and long-standing Canisius rivals such as Cornell, Syracuse, Niagara and St. Bonaventure.   

Each in their own words, members of the CFA team credited their win to teamwork and encouragement from Dr. Richard Wall. Professor of Finance, Canisius CFA Academic Advisor, and President of CFA of Buffalo, Dr. Wall has been integral since the beginning in establishing the program both at Canisius and in the broader region.

When questions about his role in facilitating a strong team year after year, Wall put the onus of victory back on the willpower of the student, saying that even though “they get no class credit” passionate students continue to step up to the challenge. Each student contributed over 400 hours, stacking up to more than 2,000 hours in total thus far. Even so, this year’s team spoke highly of his passion, characterizing him as a father-figure for his role as a mentor and teacher.

While research and planning began in early September, the majority of their research took place after finals had come to a close last semester. Fortified by ambition, as evidenced by their 12-16 hour days, the team maintained their grueling pace up until the conference deadline in mid-January.

A picture circulated on social media over winter break showing four of the five team members with three on a mattress in the corner and one lying overhead on an Old Main windowsill. Senior Mallory Murdie agreed with her teammates that, while she herself refrained from napping in the corner, the the picture was iconic of their experience – long, sleepless nights that were worth the reward.

Senior Alex Vienne, double major in Economics and Finance, told The Griffin that a cause for their success was simply a one-for-all attitude. “It’s nice because in most group projects you always have the one group member who kind of slacks off,” he explained while hunched over a monitor in the Golden Griffin Financial Lab. “The level of intensity from every single one of us was great. It was a great team to work with.”

The level of cohesion may come as a surprise to many after noting the fact that only seniors Rich Kubiak and Lee Huber, roommates and shared dual majors in Economics and Finance, knew each other prior to the start of the competition.

“It’s a legacy I want to leave,” stated Huber. When asked about the pressure of maintaining last year’s victory, he explained that “It definitely gives us big shoes to fill, but the way that I have always seen it is that it gives us a tremendous opportunity to establish Canisius’ Finance program as one of the top, not just in the U.S., but in the world.”

His colleagues agreed, noting again the fact that world renowned institutions have lost to Canisius for six consecutive years in the region, and questioned why the Canisius does not get as much attention as the other schools that Canisius continuously knocks off. “We celebrated more for Cornell coming in second than us coming in first,” said senior Daniel Suarez with a huge grin.

Suarez, a Math and Economics dual major, added that the success of their collaborative effort stemmed from the fact that early on they came together under Wall’s direction to capitalize on their strengths and cover their weaknesses.

Suarez said that while he was not too confident in his writing he has proven to be “really good with numbers” so that the bulk of his effort was spent focusing on his strengths. All agreed that this support system was what has brought them this far, and will carry them into the future.

The team was able to assess the opposition last fall at the Oak Hill Country Club after a presentation by Financial Institutions, Inc. shot off the proverbial starting pistol for the competition.

Similar to an earnings call, the CEO and CFO of the multi-billion dollar firm gave a brief presentation outlying their business model and fielded questions from participants.  

The team utilized this opportunity strategically, taking note of the types of questions asked by other competitors as a signpost for the level of sophistication that they were up against. This view of the field made all the difference, transforming the abstract concept of “competition” and making it tangible. It was after that, “that we really kicked it up” noted Huber.

The rules and regulations of the competition leave no room for second place advancement, leaving only Canisius as the sole representative of the region. Yet the excitement of last week’s success did not subtract from their wherewithal. The biggest issue they foresee is presenting copious amounts of information, demonstrating the depth of their analysis, and giving the business a proper context, all within a window of 10 minutes.

Because Financial Institutions, Inc. does not have strong name recognition, the primary goal will be perfecting the presentation while updating report that was strong enough to get them this far.

Referring to last year’s global championship, Huber said that “it gives us a tremendous opportunity to establish Canisius’ Finance program as one of the top, not just in the US but top in the world.” He continued saying, “I feel like we always had a chip on our shoulder coming from Canisius because in US News and World Report you never see our finance program ranked anywhere. I personally have seen it as just a great opportunity. It’s a legacy I want to leave.”

The fact that Finance is now the fourth largest major at the College can be credited in part to the strength exhibited nationally and internationally some of the best and brightest, who have been drawing more attention to what Canisius College has to offer.


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