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UNC Kenan-Flagler hosts premier investment management competition

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. 16-17, 2017.

The team from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business won first place. UNC Kenan-Flagler won second and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in third place.

Now in its 13th 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.

“Top MBA students demonstrate their investment management skills to accomplished professional investors at the Alpha Challenge,” said Chip Snively, UNC Kenan-Flagler finance professor and co-director of the Alpha Challenge. “It is a unique opportunity for students to learn and firms to recruit.”

The two-day event began with its traditional full day of interviewing with 30 firms interviewing candidates on Thursday, followed by an evening of networking with more than 150 students and investment professionals.

New this year was a series of educational talks on investment industry trends, an investing women’s luncheon and a director of research/chief investment officer roundtable. On Friday, 48 MBA competing students presented in front of 47 judges representing more than 40 investment firms.

Alpha Challenge winners

Between the morning and final rounds, all attendees were treated to an interactive lunch-time moderated panel with Richard Chilton of Chilton Investments, Xan Moore of Carlson Capital, Win Murray of Harris Associates, Corey Tobin of William Blair and Steve Yacktman of Yacktman Funds.

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.

“Driving superior risk-adjusted returns for clients is critical to the success of active management firms and hiring the best investment talent is critical to that success,” said Jones. “For more than a decade, the country’s top-tier investment firms have attended Alpha Challenge to identify their next generation of investment leaders.”

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 for inclusion in the official Alpha Challenge resume/idea book sent to all participating firms.

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
  • Harvard Business School
  • 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 Chicago, Booth School of Business
  • University of Michigan, Ross School of Business
  • University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School
  • University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School
  • University of Virginia, Darden School of Business
  • Yale University, Yale School of Management

The investment professionals who served as judges were from William Blair Investment Management, American Century, Amundi Pioneer Asset Management, Artisan Partners, Capital Group, Carlson, Causeway Capital, Chilton Investment Company, Clearbridge Investments, Columbia Wagner, DHMG, Franklin Street Partners, Franklin Templeton, Harris Associates, Janus Capital, Jennison Associates, KDI Capital, Loomis Sayles, Manning & Napier, Maverick Capital, Piedmont Investment Advisors,   Point 72 Asset Management, Putnam Investments, Seamark Capital, Sirios, Snow Capital, The London Company, Thornburg, Thrivent Financial, T. Rowe Price, UBS Global, Unum Group, Wadell & Reed Investment Management, WEDGE Capital, Wellington Management and Yacktman Asset Management.

For the fourth straight year, William Blair was the lead sponsor of the 2017 Alpha Challenge.

Other sponsors were Carlson Capital, Causeway Capital, Chilton Investment Company, Clearbridge Investments, Harris Associates, T. Rowe Price, Invesco, Loomis Sayles, Yacktman Asset Management, American Century Investments, Artisan Partners, FactSet, Point 72 Asset Management, Fidelity Investments, Sirios Capital Management, Thornburg Investment Management and WEDGE Capital Management.

About the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School

Consistently ranked one of the world’s best business schools, UNC Kenan-Flagler is known for its collaborative culture that stems from its core values: excellence, leadership, integrity, community and teamwork. Professors excel at both teaching and research, and demonstrate unparalleled dedication to students. Graduates are effective, principled leaders who have the technical and managerial skills to deliver results in the global business environment. UNC Kenan-Flagler offers a rich portfolio of programs and extraordinary, real-life learning experiences: Undergraduate Business, full-time MBA, Executive MBA Programs (Evening, Weekend and global OneMBA®), online MBA@UNC, UNC-Tsinghua Dual-Degree EMBA, Master of Accounting, PhD, Executive Development, and UNC Business Essentials programs. It is home to the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise.