Rhodes Team Secures Win at Investment Research Contest

group image of Rhodes College students standing in front of a campus building
(Front row, from left): Hannah Gamble, Katherine Jonz, and Emma Fleming
(Back row, from left): Kyle Weston and Biniyam Ewenetu

A team of four Rhodes seniors and one junior won the local competition of the Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA) Institute Research Challenge Feb. 25, hosted by the Arkansas, Memphis, and Mississippi CFA Societies. The competition connects college students with investment professionals.

Winners from the local competitions advance to one of the regional competitions hosted by the CFA Institute, culminating in a global final, where one team emerges as champion.

The Rhodes team—made up of Biniyam Ewenetu ’23 (business), Emma Fleming ‘23 (business), Hannah Gamble ’24 (business), Katherine Jonz ’23 (economics and business), and Kyle Weston (business)— competed against Harding University, Millsaps College, Arkansas State University, and the University of Arkansas-Little Rock. The team now advances to the regional competition to be held in Atlanta in April.

For a competition, the team researches and analyzes a designated publicly traded company; writes a report about it; makes a recommendation about buying, selling, or holding its stock; and presents the findings to a panel of industry experts. The Rhodes team presented their analysis of FedEx Corp. (FDX).

This year’s challenge involved five months of preparation. “The students on the Rhodes team had the opportunity to bring together various aspects of their liberal arts education in their final report and presentation. The students effectively used their business coursework, analytical skills, and strong written and oral communication skills for the investment challenge,” said Dr. Andrey Zagorchev, associate professor of business and the team’s advisor. “During the presentations, the judges commented on how impressed they were by the Rhodes team’s overall work and ability to think critically and respond well to questions under pressure.”

Zagorchev selected a team of business students who had taken 300- and 400-level finance courses and who have a finance focus in their business major. Braxton Carr of Deloitte served as the industry mentor.

"Through participation in the CFA Institute Research Challenge, I have gained valuable investment research experience. I improved upon technical skills I have learned through classes and work experience but more importantly, I learned to tell the story behind the numbers and take a macro perspective on a potential investment,” said Jonz. “We could not have achieved this without the support of our advisor, Andrey Zagorchev, and the business department."

“The liberal arts education at Rhodes enabled me and my team to bring our quantitative analysis to life and be able to tell a compelling and in-depth story of the research we conducted,” said Ewenetu. “Being able to make a claim and defend it well is an integral part of the liberal arts curriculum here at Rhodes. That, I believe, is what set us apart from the competition and ultimately aided us in our victory.”

Both Jonz and Ewenetu will be pursuing careers in the financial services industry.