Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business

Department of Finance Creative Inquiry highlights: CFA Institute Research Challenge and the Stock Pitch Competition


Seniors Liz Dillard, Jacob Lucero, Joseph Paolucci, Grace Meissner and Christopher Charlton were all participating students in the CFA Research Challenge this year.
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Clemson’s Creative Inquiry (CI) courses provide opportunities for students to participate in hands-on learning experiences and undergraduate research. Each year, the Department of Finance at the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business offers multiple CIs where faculty members lead projects and collaborate with students. This year, two of these CI courses involved team competitions.

CFA Research Challenge

One of the Creative Inquiry classes offered by the Department of Finance is for students to participate in the CFA Institute Research Challenge, an international equity valuation competition. Two teams from the CI entered the competition, with the first level of the competition organized by the CFA Society of Atlanta, the CFA Society of South Carolina and the CFA Society of Alabama. Jack Wolf, Ph.D. associate professor of finance at the Powers College of Business, has led the CI for 12 years. This year, Chris Hart ‘43, CFA and an international equity fund manager for Boston Partners, acted as the team’s industry mentor.

In this year-long course, financial management students developed advanced firm valuation and analysis skills. During the early Fall semester, the class focused on learning detailed financial models and valuation techniques. Later, in the late fall, the organizing CFA Societies announced to the teams that they would be valuing the subject company Southern Company.

Once the firm was announced, the teams began analyzing the firm on their own. After participating in a conference call with the subject company, the teams developed and submitted a written Initiation of Coverage report with a Buy/Hold/Sell recommendation and a one-year target price. These reports were judged by investment professionals affiliated with the organizing societies, with the top five teams advancing to the local finals. One of the two participating Powers College of Business teams was selected to present this year at Kennesaw State University where they created and gave a ten-minute presentation showcasing their recommendation and valuation of Southern Company to a panel of CFA analysts.

Jacob Lucero ’24 spoke about the benefits of being a part of this course. “This CI was an applied learning experience, allowing participants to engage in the activities of a real-world equity research analyst,” he says. “Creative inquiries allow students to actually apply all that they learn in a classroom setting, and the skills gained through developing a sophisticated valuation model and coverage report for this competition was extremely beneficial.”

Stock Pitch Competition

In addition to the CFA Research Challenge, the Department of Finance also offered a Stock Pitch Competition CI course for the first time this year. This CI provided students with the opportunity to participate in the University of Georgia’s annual stock pitch competition.

Pictured left to right, Ryan Wolf ’26 and Justin Wolfe ’26 traveled to the University of Georgia to present their pitch to a panel of judges. Not pictured: James Kostopoulos ’24

Nine students participated in this CI led by Angela Morgan, Ph.D. Each team of three students chose a stock to “pitch” for investors to buy or sell. Throughout the year-long course, students learned how to pick stocks, calculate weighted average cost of capital (WACCs) and value stock prices based on discounted cashflow and multiples approaches. In class, students created slides that were then submitted to qualify for the competition.

With over 50 teams nationwide who entered the culminating competition, only 15 were chosen by the student managed investment fund at UGA.

The Powers College of Business team comprised of James Kostopoulos ’24, Justin Wolfe ’26 and Ryan Wolf ’26, was chosen to present at competition. Wolfe and Wolf attended the two-day event and presented their pitch to a panel of industry judges along with other student teams from Auburn, Cal Berkley, NYU, Washington and Lee and University of Texas-Austin.

Wolf, a sophomore finance major, talks about how his time in the CI not only gave him experiential learning opportunities but also helped him develop skills needed in a global marketplace. “My experience in the CI was impactful. I was able to combine what I’ve learned in class so far into one collaborative project while preparing to compete in the competition.”

Visit the Creative Inquiries webpage to learn more about CI opportunities.

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