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Investment Research: UW Students Up to the Challenge

February 18, 2011 — The questions were grueling and the competition was fierce, but the University of Wyoming team more than held its own during UW's first experience in the annual University Investment Research Challenge.

The challenge is an equity research competition among student teams from the world's top university business and finance programs. Locally, UW and teams from Colorado State University, University of Colorado-Boulder, University of Denver and the University of Northern Colorado each wrote an equity research report on Western Union and presented their findings to an expert panel.

"We were well-prepared to compete at this level," says Tyler Thomas of Sheridan, a UW senior in finance who teamed with Alexandra Shuman of St. Petersburg, Russia, and James Garland of Laramie to represent UW in the competition. "The competition was very organized and well-run. It provided some real-world, hands-on experience for everyone involved."

Shuman says such experience will pay off in the future.

"UW has a strong finance faculty and well-developed courses that will definitely help me achieve my career goals," she says. "Additionally, competitions like the University Investment Research Challenge give you a spirit of the ‘real' professional world and provide you with an opportunity to use your education in practice."    

Topics covered issues such as exchange rates, tax laws and globalization. The students were asked why Western Union's growth rate was so poor, what the company should do with its large excess cash assets and even "What is the likely impact of mobile-to-mobile money transfers on the company's business?"

Despite the challenging questions, Garland encourages UW students to participate in such competitions.

"It is important for UW to participate in these kinds of opportunities, not only for personal development but also to represent Wyoming and the caliber of work the university is doing," he says.

Thomas says students sometimes don't know what a great opportunity is afforded by taking on such challenges.

"This can be a great networking opportunity, resume builder and an opportunity to impress employers," he says. "I really enjoyed the opportunity to work with and get to know talented individuals and classmates such as Alexandra and James. The competition was an overall great learning experience."

"The ability to learn more about the investment process and the interaction of students from different universities and professionals in the field certainly make this a positive experience," says James Cornehlsen, past president of the CFA Society of Colorado, which organized the local challenge and worked closely with the schools, judges and volunteers.

University of Wyoming students applied their classroom training to real-world equity investment issues during the recent University Investment Research Challenge. From left are Tyler Thomas, Sheridan; Alexandra Shuman of St. Petersburg, Russia; and James Garland of Laramie. (UW Photo)

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