MBA students from 16 business schools battled to win the premier U.S. investment management competition – the Alpha Challenge – hosted by the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School Nov. 17-18, 2016.
The University of Texas team won first place. Teams from Yale University and Northwestern University finished second and third, respectively.
Now in its 12th year, the Alpha Challenge pits MBA teams against each another as they present three stock ideas, one long and one short investment recommendation from a predefined universe of stocks, and a “wildcard” open to all U.S.-traded stocks. Student teams defend their analysis to a panel of distinguished judges who are hedge fund managers, institutional portfolio managers and senior equity research analysts from some of the most respected and successful buy-side firms in the world.
“Alpha Challenge is a rare opportunity for top MBA students to demonstrate their investment management skills to accomplished professional investors who serve as judges,” said Chip Snively, UNC Kenan-Flagler finance professor and co-director of the Alpha Challenge. “It’s a learning opportunity for students from across the U.S. and a recruiting opportunity for the firms.”
The two-day event began with 20 firms interviewing candidates on Thursday, followed by an evening of networking with more than 150 students and investment professionals. On Friday, the 48 MBA competing students presented in front of 43 judges representing 32 investment firms. Michelle Seitz, head of investment management for William Blair gave the keynote talk.
Jim Jones (MBA ’06), William Blair partner and research analyst, co-founded the Alpha Challenge when he was an MBA student at UNC Kenan-Flagler and remains deeply involved in it.
“The active management firms that will thrive in an industry that is moving increasingly toward passive management are those that drive superior risk-adjusted returns for their clients,” said Jones. “It all starts with hiring the best investment talent. Over the past decade many of the country’s top-tier investment firms have attended Alpha Challenge to identify the next generation of investment leaders.”The students competed on their home campuses for the opportunity to represent their schools at the Alpha Challenge at UNC Kenan-Flagler, and once selected, submitted a one-page stock idea along with their resumes.
MBA student team teams were fielded by:
- Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business
- Columbia University, Columbia Business School
- Cornell University, Johnson School of Management
- Dartmouth College, Tuck School of Business
- Duke University, Fuqua School of Business
- Indiana University, Kelley School of Business
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT Sloan School of Management
- New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business
- Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management
- University of California at Los Angeles, Anderson School of Management
- University of Chicago Booth School of Business
- University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School
- University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School
- University of Texas, McCombs School of Business
- University of Virginia, Darden School of Business
- Yale University, Yale School of Management
The investment professionals who served as judges for the 2016 Alpha Challenge were from William Blair Investment Management, Fred Alger, American Century, Artisan Partners, Capital Group, Carlson, Causeway Capital, Chilton Investment Company, Clearbridge Investments, DHMG, Franklin Street Partners, Harris Associates, Janus Capital, Jennison Associates, KDI Capital, Loomis Sayles, Manning & Napier, Mid-Continent Capital, Piedmont Investment Advisors, Point 72, Seamark Capital, Sirios, Snow Capital, Southpoint Capital, Stamford Harbor Capital, Thornburg, TIAA-CREF, T. Rowe Price, UBS Global, WEDGE Capital and Yacktman.
For the third straight year, William Blair was the lead sponsor of the 2016 Alpha Challenge. Other sponsors were Carlson Capital, Causeway Capital, Chilton Investment Company, Clearbridge Investments, Harris Associates, T. Rowe Price, Yacktman Asset Management, Fred Alger, American Century Investments, Artisan Partners, Capital Group, FactSet, Fidelity Investments, Sirios Capital Management, Southpoint Capital and WEDGE Capital Management.