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Huntsman Finance Team Wins CFA State Competition

April  2018

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Three students from the Huntsman School of Business won the in-state competition for the CFA Institute Research Challenge. Seniors Scott Saunders, Brett Dommer, and Bretton Ashcroft represented Utah State University at the competition in Salt Lake City, competing against teams from around the state. This was the first time an Aggie team won the competition. “We came in wanting to win, but since no team from USU had won the Utah level competition before, we weren't expecting to win. We were really surprised and grateful to have won!” said Ashcroft.

CFA Competition Team Members: Scott Saunders, Brett Dommer, and Bretton Ashcroft
CFA Competition Team Members: Scott
Saunders, Brett Dommer, and Bretton Ashcroft

Paul Fjeldsted, the CFA team advisor, said, “We are very proud of this team and their accomplishments this year.  Congrats to them for representing themselves and the Huntsman School so well during the Challenge.”

The Certified Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute oversees one of the world’s most prestigious financial certification programs. The Research Challenge is a global competition held each year. Participants are given mentoring in advanced financial analysis and tasked to research and analyze a publicly traded company. Students then write a report and create a presentation offering a buy, sell, or hold strategy on the company’s offerings. More than 5,000 students from 1,000 universities worldwide compete in the competition every year.

After winning the local competition, the Huntsman students proceeded to compete at the regional level in Boston, facing competition from elite colleges in the western hemisphere.

“Competition in Boston was very intense. Most teams were a blend of undergraduate and graduate students, but we were one of the few pure undergraduate teams. Most of the competing teams in our bracket were from former world champion schools. Overall, it was the best thing I could have done with my time here.” said Dommer.

Under the direction of faculty advisors Paul Fjeldsted and TJ Bond, the team performed research on Health Equity, a healthcare savings company founded by Utah State alumnus Stephen Neeleman. The team created a 10-page research report and presentation.

TJ Bond, CFA competition advisor, said “I think the team came up with a compelling investment thesis—an out-of-consensus view on Health Equity. Some of the arguments they made could have appeared in a Wall Street report.”

Saunders, Dommer, and Ashcroft will be graduating this May. Ashcroft will be taking the CFA Level 1 Exam in June and will be attending graduate school in data analytics. Dommer has been offered positions at Kroll Bond Rating Agency and Credit One Bank and is in final interviews for positions with Goldman Sachs and Bloomberg. Saunders will be doing an internship with Utah Retirement Systems before working toward a Masters of Finance degree from the University of Utah.