During a long career as an analyst and Chief Investment Officer, Tony Aveni (Boler Executive-in-Residence) watched US and global equity markets rise and fall with regularity, if not absolute predictability. He’s similarly seen the highs and lows of human emotion cloud the judgement of seasoned stock watchers.
As Aveni tries to see into the future — past an ongoing global pandemic and subsequent economic downturn — he has to acknowledge to his students that experience is not always the best teacher.
“When you reach $14 trillion in global debt at negative interest rates, and unprecedented monetary policy intervention, you can’t put that into a model with any confidence,” Aveni says.
Meeting the CFA Challenge
One of Aveni’s roles as Executive-in-Residence is to mentor the Boler CFA Challenge team. The CFA Challenge invites undergraduate teams from nearly 100 countries to research and analyze a publicly traded company and compete with students from other schools on a local, regional and global level.
Boler College has consistently punched above its weight — winning multiple regional titles against far larger schools. For 2020, Boler fielded a five-member team with the help of Aveni and Boler Assistant Professor of Finance Jisok Kang. After much analysis, the Boler team selected Materion Corporation, an Ohio-based manufacturer of beryllium-based products — and successfully made their case before a panel of three industry practitioners in February to win yet another Midwest regional CFA Challenge.
As the pandemic approached Europe and North America in March, the team and its two mentors started preparation for the next round. Plans to travel to New York to compete in person gave way to five students scattered and adjusting to the realities of a Zoom presentation.
“There were many late nights spent in the Boler Bloomberg Lab,” says team member Noah Johnston, ’20, now a Corporate Finance Analyst at Huntington National Bank. “By the time it was all over, we had each spent something like 200-250 hours on the project.”
Aveni captures the path to successful stock analysis this way: “You’ve got to learn to distinguish between good news and a good value,” he says. “Can you develop the discipline to not carry emotions into your investment decisions. Can you instead fall in love with cold, hard, empirical data.”
Johnson says of the experience: “Some things you just can’t learn purely in the classroom. The real-life pressures of guiding the student-run Dornam Investment Fund and the sense of responsibility you feel as a member of the CFA Challenge honed my financial skills and thinking. The adversity, in the end, made us sharper.”
2020 CFA Challenge
150+ CFA Societies
121 Local Challenges