Business students place first in investment competition


Staff Writer

On Dec. 6, a team of 19 Cal Poly Pomona business students placed first in the 2019 Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Society Student Managed Investment Fund (SMIF) competition held at Cal State Long Beach and received an investment portfolio of $75,000 from the CFA Society of Orange County to manage as a group.

According to the CFA Society of Orange County, “Undergraduate student teams from local universities compete for the opportunity to manage a portfolio that has historically averaged about $100,000 in funds. The competition is organized as a Request for Proposal (RFP) opportunity …. Each team submits a written response to the RFP that must include a description of their management structure, internal controls, investment process, and an outline for the investment strategy. The written submission to the RFP is followed by a presentation of an Economic Outlook and Investment Strategy to a panel of judges and the Foundation Investment Policy Committee.”

Including the SMIF provided by CPP and the new portfolio of $75,000 from the CFA Society of Orange County, the group will manage an investment portfolio of approximately $300,000.

The CPP team had 30 minutes to propose its investment portfolio to five industry judges. In its proposal, the team emphasized the economic environment for various regions around the world. The presentation was followed by a 10-minute Q&A, where the students persuaded the judges to select their portfolio to manage and invest the funds.

“In the end, we concluded the domestic equities (in the U.S.) would give us the best return for the risks we were taking within the stock portion of the portfolio,” fourth-year business student Jonathan Oliver said. 

The business student team posed with their professor, Pawan Tomkoria (center) after placing first in the 2019 CFA Society Student Managed Investment Fund Competition.
(Courtesy of Zachary Winkle)

To prepare for the competition, Oliver elaborated on how the team received feedback from an internal panel of CPP alumni, faculty and industry experts. That experience assisted the team in critiquing details of their investment portfolio. 

The students involved in the competition were part of the applied portfolio management class instructed by Professor Pawan Tomkoria and are involved in the Student Managed Investment Club at CPP. During the fall semester, the club and class devoted their meeting times to research and preparation for the competition. 

“In that kind of environment, I learned more than I have in any other experience at Cal Poly. It was just absolutely eye-opening because that’s driving a lot of my career options from my performance in the competition,” third-year business student Zachary Winkle said.

Winkle described the impact that working with his team made on his goals for the future, which allows him to think more about new topics in his field that are discovered every day.

CPP has competed in the CFA Society Student Managed Investment Fund Competition for three years now. The team placed second in 2017 and third in 2018. This year marks the first year that the team placed first in the competition.

“The whole point of this (competition and program) is to give our students an advantage in the workplace when they look for jobs,” Tomkoria said. 

“In our investment philosophy, this is the real-life, on-target example of learning by doing. This is not theory. You apply what you learn in other classes and you actually invest real money, where you track the performance.”

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