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Students take top honors at North Carolina CFA Society Research Challenge

BOONE—For the second year in a row, a team of undergraduates from Appalachian State University’s Walker College of Business has won the North Carolina Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Society Research Challenge.

View larger imageAppalachian State University students Dan Alliss, left, Jack Gibbs, Ellen Morgan, Alan Clarke and Matthew Vanek recently won a financial analyst competition that was held at UNC Greensboro. (Photo by Amanda Getty)

The winning students are Dan Alliss, Alan Clarke, Jack Gibbs, Ellen Morgan and Matthew Vanek. Their CFA mentor was Chris Pavese, chief investment officer at Broyhill Asset Management. Pavese also coached last year’s winning team.

The team, all members of the Bowden Investment Group in the Department of Finance, Banking and Insurance, will advance to the Americas Regional finals competition held in Toronto, Canada, in March.

The victory was the third win in five years for Appalachian in the state competition. It also gives Appalachian the best overall record in the North Carolina competition, according to Delbert Goff, a professor in the Department of Finance, Banking and Insurance and advisor to the investment group. The students competed against MBA and undergraduate business students from nine universities across the state.

The goal of the research challenge is to provide students with a real-world application of writing research reports. The challenge also teaches best practices in research to the next generation of analysts and offers experiences that complement students’ academic curriculum.

Each team was assigned Family Dollar Stores Inc. to analyze. The students were given access to the company’s management team as part of their research process. Teams then wrote and presented a report recommending a “Buy,” “Sell,” or “Hold” position on the publicly traded company. Members of the N.C. CFA society assisted in providing education tools and research seminars.

Goff estimates the students spent nearly 200 hours each preparing for the competition. “They gained very in-depth, hands on, security analysis experience, developed very strong report-writing skills and had the chance to refine their presentation skills,” he said of the competition. “The team faced challenging questions from investment professionals who served as judges, and they excelled on all levels.

The team from Appalachian will compete against approximately 45 teams from North, South and Central America. Four teams will be selected to compete at the global competition to be held in London in April.

For more information about the CFA Institute Research Challenge, visit