Students get hands-on financial analyst experience

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NDSU’s College of Business gives students an opportunity to play the role of Wall Street financial analysts. It’s a hands-on learning experience that involves financial research, teamwork and global competitions.

The college participates in the CFA Institute Research Challenge. The competition requires university students to research, analyze and report on a company as if they are practicing analysts. CFA stands for chartered financial analyst, which is a professional credential offered by the institute. University teams from around the world participate.

Each team researches a real company and recommends if it is a good organization in which to invest. This year’s NDSU team was paired with Fastenal, a global company based in Winona, Minnesota.

“We toured the corporate headquarters, manufacturing centers and customization centers,” said Lee Vetsch, a finance junior from Hazelton, North Dakota. “We met with the chief executive officer and chief financial officer, and had a separate call with the CFO afterward.”

The students teamed up with Fariz Huseynov, NDSU associate professor of finance and team adviser. They also had an industry mentor, Zac Wanzek, portfolio manager at Bell Bank in Fargo, who gave the team intensive training in company analysis and presentation skills.

“This is an educational experience that promotes best practices in equity research where students are able to apply what they learn in the classroom to real-world cases,” said Huseynov.

The team wrote a report based on their analysis of Fastenal, reviewed its industry position and company management, and conducted statistical modeling of revenue.

“We wrote a professional 30-page, sell-side equity research paper in which we created a presentation of our stock pitch for the competition round,” said Vetsch. “This hands-on work resulted in what actual equity research analysts do every day.”

Competitions are judged by heads of research, portfolio managers and chief investment officers.

The NDSU team includes:

Lee Vetsch, a finance junior from Hazelton, North Dakota Cal Anderson, a senior finance major from Montevideo, Minnesota Trevor Honzay, a senior finance major from Olivia, Minnesota Alen Saric, a freshman business administration major from Whapeton, North Dakota Matthew Miranda, a freshman finance major from Grand Forks, North Dakota. This was the seventh time NDSU has participated in the competition and students over the years think the hands-on experience is an invaluable addition to their education.

“We find this to be the best way to actually learn the finance skills, instead of trying to memorize from a book,” said Vetsch.


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