After one big fight, Ateneo wins global tilt
While the rest of the Philippines was busy with the midterm elections, these whiz kids from Ateneo de Manila University devoted a great deal of their time in the last six months researching, pitching like investment professionals and bringing honor to the country.
In a big competition held in New York City on April 23 to 25, this Ateneo team emerged as the CFA (Chartered Financial Analysts) Institute Research Challenge global champion. This gave the Philippines its third IRC global championship, the most number of times any participant country has ever topped the investment research tilt.
The Ateneo team is composed of five BS Management Engineering majors: Katreena Dachelle Chang, 20; Carina Monica Chua, 21; Vince Benedict Say, 22; Gabrielle Marie Tayag, 21; and, Christine Abigail Yu, 21.
“We are very proud of Ateneo’s achievement as it has once again put the Philippines in the global map. This goes to show that our talents are truly world-class,” said Cristina Arceo, president of CFA Society Philippines.
“The competition not only showcases the knowledge and expertise of these investment professionals of the future, but also their commitment to ethics and principled conduct that is so critical to building a better world for investors. It’s inspiring to see the next generation of investment professionals at work and know the future of our industry is in capable hands,” said Paul Smith, CFA president and CEO at CFA Institute.
The last time the Philippines topped the global CFA Challenge IRC was in 2014 and prior to that, in 2010.
Both times, the country was represented by UP Diliman.
The Ateneo team won the national finals in February and earned the right to represent the country in the regional round. The team then bested universities from 26 other countries in Asia Pacific in the regional finals held in Sydney, Australia, in March, earning Ateneo its third regional championship.
For the global finals, the team presented and defended its analysis to a panel of judges drawn from the investment industry, including: Shuk Yee Samantha Ho, chief investment officer at Altus Capital Ltd.; David Greenberg, managing director at BlackRock; Tim Baker, global head of applied innovation at Refinative Labs; and Jingyan Wang, senior quant fixed income researcher at State Street Global Advisors.
The Philippine team beat four other regional winners, namely: Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico, Canisius College (United States), Moscow State University (Russia) and University of Lausanne (Switzerland).
The team picked the Philippines’ leading specialty chemicals manufacturer, D&L Industries (DNL), as subject-company and issued a “buy” recommendation with a discounted cash flow-based target price of P13.30 a share.
“In our view, DNL is an emerging play on the dynamic Asia Pacific (APAC) consumption story with its steady domestic gains and regional growth strategy. We expect DNL’s margin expansion, alongside its strong exposure to Philippine and APAC consumer drivers, to underpin a robust five-year EPS CAGR (earnings per share compounded annual growth rate) of 13.4 percent from 2017 (actual) to 2022 (forecast),” their report said.
To prepare for this competition, these kids did a lot of research on DNL, the industry it operates in, and global economics.
They read many equity reports and quizzed each other on possible questions and gradually improved their manner of responding.
“The team worked hard and came in very well prepared. I think the judges also appreciated that the Philippine team was able to communicate their ideas in a complete yet concise and easy to understand manner. That said, I don’t think we would have won if not for the prayers of all of the supporters of the Philippine team. It seemed like all the stars aligned that night, allowing the Philippine team to win despite all the challenges including jet lag, very tough questions from the judges and very strong competitors,” said April Lee-Tan, head of research at COL Financial and a former CFA Society Philippines president who mentored the team along with Mark Canizares, head of equities at Manulife Asset Management & Trust Corp.
“Every year, our university tries to form well-rounded teams to compete in the research challenge and make a run for the championship. But I think what makes this team special are: A) the representation of women in the team (four out of the five), which is a milestone not just for the university but for the local CFA Society as well and B) the strong chemistry of all five members as seen in how they all got along well and were able to bring together their unique skill sets to form a cohesive output,” said Alfonso Miguel Sevidal, the Ateneo team’s faculty adviser.
“The level of collaboration was very strong—as their coach, I noticed how much they improved and grew, not just as individuals, but as a unit in each successive round of the competition,” he added.
This international CFA challenge seeks to promote best practices in equity research among the next generation of analysts. In total, more than 6,000 students from universities around the world participated in the IRC throughout 2018-2019.
For the victorious Ateneo team, it was an exhausting but fulfilling journey.
The biggest challenge was the grind: the competition took around half a year, and they had to balance everything with their academics and other extracurricular activities. Despite the rigorous demands of this competition, the team did its best.
“You can’t go through an experience like this without having an open mind, being ready to learn and willing to listen to reason, but also knowing when to stand up for what you believe to be right. In the end, though, it was the people; the close bond we formed as a five-person team that made every sacrifice worthwhile, and every challenge something to look forward to,” Chang said.
“The challenge was always to learn, developing the ability to quickly adapt to changes in the market and understanding their implications. This entire experience has taught the group to think on our feet and work together. I believe it takes a great team dynamic to bounce around ideas well and work through the toughest of challenges,” said Say.
For Chua, the value of teamwork was the most important thing she had learned from this experience.
“We knew from the start it was going to be a challenging journey, but having the right people with you really takes the experience to a whole different level. At the end of the day, it’s not the trophy I hold most important, but the bond I’ve been able to create with my team.”
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