First Georgia College Team to advance in Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute Research Challenge

E ven though they were eliminated later, a team of five students were the first from Georgia College to advance to the second round of the Southern Classic Research Challenge, a sub-regional competition in the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute Research Challenge.

The annual, global competition rigorously tests university students on their analytical, valuation, report writing and presentation skills. As part of the Southern Classic sub-region, students from Georgia College competed against 25 other universities from Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina. 

After scoring in the top five in the first round, Georgia College advanced to the presentation round alongside teams from Kennesaw State University, Auburn, Clemson and Mercer University. Despite all odds, the team placed third in the presentation round with a score of 86.8 out of 100. Mercer University placed first, and Kennesaw State University placed second. 

Only Mercer University will advance further in the competition this year, but the Georgia College team isn’t discouraged. Made up of five students: junior economics major Lauren Moskowitz, junior economics major Clayton Gardner, junior management information systems major James “Slate” Fluker, senior economics major Nathan Snow and junior marketing major Nick Brooks, the interdisciplinary team is proud of what they’ve achieved.

We, a small school without a finance major, made it to the next round of a global finance competition.
– Lauren Moskowitz

“We, a small school without a finance major, made it to the next round of a global finance competition,” Moskowitz said. “Our goal when we started the competition was to make it to the presentation round. We feel like we prepared very well.”
Team photo (left to right): Slate Fluker, Nick Brooks, Lauren Moskowitz, Nathan Snow, Clayton Gardner.
Team photo (left to right): Slate Fluker, Nick Brooks, Lauren Moskowitz, Nathan Snow, Clayton Gardner.

The students, selected in September of 2021, were tasked by the CFA Institute to analyze the entire financial picture of a designated company, and provide a recommendation to judges on whether stock should be bought, sold or held. This grueling work, completed over months of balancing other commitments, resulted in a 20-page financial analysis report. 

The report was graded by judges from companies like Truist and JPMorgan. The Georgia College team made it to the presentation round by beating out teams from schools like the University of Alabama. The third team from Georgia College to compete in as many years, they were the first from the university to advance to the next round for presentations. 

They learned the news in a finance class. Snow was out sick when Gardner received the notification. 

“We were all freaking out,” Moskowitz said. “After we shared the news the whole class started cheering. They knew how much time and effort we’d put into it. 

Their advisors, Dr. Isarin Durongkadej, assistant professor of finance, and Dr. Leng Ling, professor of finance, could only provide the team with 10 hours of help. 

“The students have a limited knowledge as opposed to a finance majors with 30 credit hours of experience,” Durongkadej said. “I think it’s a huge accomplishment. I can’t believe they’ve had this much self-discipline. I’m so proud of them.”

Durongkadej selects students for the challenge every September, encouraging all majors to apply. By taking part in the challenge, students gain real-life knowledge of stock and financial analysis. They get access to an industry mentor and networking opportunities at large financial companies, he said.

Students who advance are also made part of a resume book, which is sent to employers for networking and employment opportunities. The demanding, real-world work helps students discover whether they truly want to work in finance. 

“We all got together and the students told me, ‘I feel so empty now,’” Durongkadej said. “I think that’s good feedback, meaning they put a lot of time into the project and enjoyed it.”

“It sounds like they want more projects,” he said with a laugh.