Rhodes Team Wins Local Investment Research Contest, Advances to Competition in New York

group of students standing outside a college building
front row l-r: Ted Bilden, Liza Esther, John Medich and back row l-r: Elliot Gorski, Andrew Morton

A team of five Rhodes seniors recently won the local competition of the Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA) Institute Research Challenge, and now will match wits and analytical skills against other student teams advancing to the regional competition to be held April 20-21 in New York City. They are Ted Bilden (business), Liza Esther (economics and business), Elliot Gorski (economics and business), John Medich (mathematics and economics), and Andrew Morton (business). 

“The students brought together many facets of their liberal arts training, including their business coursework and strong written and oral communication skills,” says Jade Planchon, assistant professor of business and the group’s advisor. “During the final presentations, the judges commented on how impressed they were on the team’s ability to think on their feet under pressure.”

Through the course of the rigorous competition, which requires hundreds of hours of preparation, teams research and analyze a designated publicly traded company; write a professional research report on that company that supports a buy, sell, or hold recommendation; and present their findings to a panel of industry experts. Winners from the local competitions advance to one of the three regional competitions held in the Americas, Asia, and Europe, culminating in a global final, where one team emerges as champion. 

The Mid-South competition, sponsored by the CFA Societies of Arkansas, Memphis, and Mississippi, was held Feb. 29 in Memphis, TN, where the Rhodes team took first place for their analysis of AutoZone and their recommendation to buy the company’s stock. Competitors included Harding University, Millsaps College, Ouachita Baptist University, University of Arkansas-Little Rock, University of Memphis, and University of Mississippi.

“We were able to take skills and knowledge from our studies in the business, economics, and math departments at Rhodes to the next level as we took on the role of financial analysts,” says Esther, who also serves as a finance peer tutor helping students understand topics covered in class. “We were evaluated on analytical, evaluation, report writing, and presentation skills. We’re thankful for the help and guidance from our professors, specifically our advisor.” 

“Additionally, we have interned in various sectors of the financial and corporate world,” says Medich, who has worked at Raymond James financial firm in Downtown Memphis. “Our great teamwork and passion, combined with our education and experiences, were able to lead us to success in the CFA competition.”