Following rigorous analysis and a series of competitions for close to six months, Strathmore University School of Finance and Applied Economics (SFAE) students finally got to take part in the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) regional finals of the CFA Institute Research Challenge. The opportunity had, not once but twice, slipped through the fingers of the University for the past two consecutive years. It was during the Local Final (East African chapter) held in March that Strathmore University was announced winner of the CFA Research Challenge East Africa edition. A month later (10th April 2016) the team would be flying over 30,000 km above sea level halfway across the world to the windy city of Chicago, Illinois. This, after a two staged competition amongst universities in the East Africa region.
Strathmore’s archrivals and main contenders Nairobi University and Kenyatta University were forced to settle for the second and third place respectively after Team Strathmore exhibited a high level presentation that gave them an edge over its competitors. The presentation wowed the judges who were further impressed with the level of confidence and articulation with which the participants responded to the questions.
The reception was great, weather somewhat favorable, experience tremendous and the competition stiff. The team presented on Wednesday 13th April 2016 at 9:30 am CT (approximately 6:30 pm EAT) to a panel of three judges, all of whom were charter holders from different parts of the world. Despite not qualifying for the Global finals, the team had an opportunity to sit back and watch the presentation of the winning teams. Before the Global finals, the team had an opportunity to take part in a finance conference dubbed “Engage” that featured key note speakers such as Dennis Lockhart, the president and CEO at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and Mellody Hobson- president of Ariel Investments. Among the issues discussed were global financial markets, the global economy linkages and role of the Federal Reserve Bank in the financial industry. The conference was aimed at sensitizing both investors and the students present on the linkages within the financial industry, the current opportunities and what it takes to be a part of the financial services’ industry and most importantly how future financial crises can be evaded. The evening of Thursday 14th April 2016 was crowned by the global finals, which brought the four best teams across the globe to a faceoff in a bid to secure the prestigious title as the Global winners of the competition. At the end of it all, the University of Waterloo from Canada carried the day, walking away with the grand price of $10,000 that accompanied the coveted title.
Outside the main business in Chicago, the team had an opportunity to tour the city. The team visited the Chicago parks, the shopping malls, the famous Chicago Securities exchange, Lake Michigan and had an opportunity to eat at some of the American diners. The CFA Institute Research Challenge was hosted at the Hilton Chicago, which also formed the residence of all the participants, allowing the team access to the ultra-modern facilities within the hotel’s premises. In addition was the cultural exposure and opportunity to network with students, analysts and lecturers from all over the world. The closing ceremony culminated in a show of skills and prowess on the dance floor as an eccentric jazz band performed some of the local favourites.