Volunteer of the Month: May 2017

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Brad Adams, CFA

Longtime member (22 years to be exact!), Brad Adams, CFA, has served on five advisory groups since 2012. In 2014 he also chaired what was previously the Finance Advisory Group. Currently, he is a member of both the Communications and Professional Development Advisory Groups.

Today Brad is being recognized for his efforts on the Communications Advisory Group. Regularly attending meetings and volunteering to be a reporter at the Society’s events, Brad has made a strong contribution to the Communications Committee.

Brad has published seven CFA Society Chicago Blog articles since the launch of the online publication and is scheduled for more. Help us in thanking Brad for attending Society events and keeping members informed!

Job well done! We appreciate all you do for the Society.

CFA Society Chicago Candidate Mix & Mingle

stress-391659_1920With every passing day the CFA exam gets near and candidate stress levels rise. What could help? A free event with an open bar, appetizers and pizza! CFA Society Chicago organized an event on March 29th at Hotel Allegro where candidates poured in to relax and network with their peers. They discussed what was and what was not working for them (in hopes to hear similar stories for affirmation that they are not alone!).

Kaplan Schweser, co-host of the event, sponsored a raffle prize of their Review Workshop to a candidate which was awarded to Kevin Anderson. Bijesh Toila, Lecturer at Kaplan Schweser, was sharing his wisdom helping out candidates with any concerns they had and getting feedback on study materials. He views his organization’s partnership with CFA Society Chicago to be a success and looks forward to strengthening it. The Society’s organizing committee members and executives joined the event for moral support of candidates.

We wish all the candidates best of luck on their upcoming exam and wish them success on the path to obtaining their charter!

Volunteer of the Month: April 2017

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Andy Feltovich, CFA

Since joining CFA Society Chicago in 2012, Andy Feltovich, CFA, didn’t hesitate when it came to answer the call for volunteers. Andy has generously given his time and talents by serving on the Education and Professional Development Advisory Groups.

Andy is currently the Co-Chair for the Professional Development Advisory Group but today’s kudos come from his work on the Education Advisory Group. Andy led a subcommittee that planned, “Investing for the Long-Term” event with top financial leaders including Robert Gordon, Deirdre Nansen McCloskey, Bob Browne, CFA, Rick Rieder, and Francisco Torralba, CFA. The event was moderated by Michele Gambera, CFA, and drew nearly 200 attendees!

Thank you Andy! We appreciate all you do for the Society.

Volunteer of the Month: March 2017

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Spencer Kelly

Thank you to all the dedicated CFA Society Chicago volunteers who give selflessly of their time and talents! This month the Professional Development Advisory Group is recognizing Spencer Kelly.

New Candidate member Spencer Kelly joined the Society in November 2016 and hit the ground running with his volunteer participation. Spencer joined the Professional Development Advisory Group and signed up to help plan Industry Roundtables, one of the Society’s notable member-only events. He worked with a subcommittee to secure 12 roundtable hosts to discuss their respective sectors in the investment industry.

Please join the Society and the Professional Development Advisory Group in thanking Spencer for his contributions.

Annual Celebration 2016: New Member and Volunteer Recognition

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CFA Society Chicago Advisory Group Co-Chairs

CFA Society Chicago held its annual celebration for new members and volunteers on Thursday, January 26, 2017. The site was a unique one–the dress circle lounge at the Chicago Opera House, which was filled to near capacity. The event provided a wonderful opportunity for new members to build their professional networks, and a time for everyone to reconnect with friends and colleagues.

Chairman of the Society, Doug Jackman, CFA, led off the official portion of the event by welcoming everyone, and thanking the many volunteers for their hours of effort that make the CFA Society Chicago a success. The Society currently has more than 225 volunteers who make the 100 plus events over the year possible. Jackman gave a special welcome for the new members and encouraged them to seek out the members of the various advisory groups represented at the meeting and to consider joining one to assure the continued success of the society’s programming:

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  • Communications Advisory Group
  • Distinguished Speaker Series Advisory Group
  • Education Advisory Group
  • Membership Engagement Advisory Group
  • Professional Development Advisory Group
  • Social Events Advisory Group
  • CFA Women’s Network

Executive Director Shannon Curley, CFA, then stepped to the mic and announced the list of volunteers recognized for their outstanding contributions during 2016 to each advisory group:

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CFA Society Chicago Volunteers – Outstanding Contribution 2016

Annual Dinner – Melissa Binder, CFA

Professional Development – Shai (Shy) Dobrusin, CFA and Samantha Grant, CFA

Communications – Brad Adams, CFA

Education Seminars – Jeanne Murphy, CFA and Cindy Tsai, CFA

Distinguished Speakers Series – Alan Papier, CFA

Membership Engagement – Gerald Norby, CFA

Social Events – Taylor Champion, CFA

Curley continued by thanking the co-chairs of the advisory groups for the extensive time and energy they put into making the events the society offers so valuable to our membership. All recognized volunteers received a gift from the society in appreciation of their service. The final piece of official business was the drawing of raffle prizes (to some the highlight of the event). This year, everyone could choose to enter their choice of three drawings, each offering a combination of dining, entertainment and hotel vouchers. With the official business completed, the socializing continued for the remainder of the event.

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Volunteer of the Month: February 2017

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Sitaram (Ram) Gundapaneni

CFA Society Chicago would like to send a heartfelt thanks to all of its volunteers who share their time and talents with the Society.  Today, we’re extending a very special “thank you” to Sitaram (Ram) Gundapaneni.  He’s the Membership Engagement Advisory Group’s Volunteer of the Month.

Ram has been a CFA Society Chicago member for more than four years, serving on both the Communications and Membership Engagement advisory groups since joining the Society.  Ram has led a small group of volunteers and organized Welcome Calls to over 500 new members, trained volunteers to make Welcome Calls by holding orientation conference calls, and attended society events to greet new members in attendance. Ram has also prescreened membership applications to be presented to the CFA Society Chicago Board of Directors, taken minutes at the Membership Engagement Advisory Group meetings, and assisted with the CFA Institute Research Challenge hosted by the Society.

Thank you Ram! We’re lucky to have you as a part of our society!

Crunch Time! CFA Society Chicago Cram Session

DSC_2760Dan McKenna, CFA Institute’s Manager of Supplemental Study Tools, led off with insights and advice directly from the source.  New charterholders and study partners, Shai Dobrusin, CFA, and Jay Bullie, CFA, shared their thoughts and where their studies differed.  Dobrusin, Trust Associate and Financial Analyst at Charles E. Dobrusin & Associates, focused on the end of chapter problems in addition to the, now Kaplan Schweser, study materials and used the Kaplan QBank as supplement.  Bullie, Associate Director at Fitch Ratings, added that relying on Kaplan alone is debilitating, especially in regards to new material.  Kaplan tends to avoid adding CFA’s new material because it is not consistently tested. Bullie experienced these new questions and had to “suck it up and move on.”  Russell Rhoads, CFA, had the most unique route to becoming a charterholder.  He gained the designation 13 years after taking Level I because the hedge fund he worked for discouraged taking the exams.  Also, as the Director of Program Development, Options Institute at the CBOE, he is one of the few at the exchange with the designation.

After the panel discussion, attendees were fortunate to ask additional questions at level specific tables.

Suggestions:

  • DSC_2765Repetition is key to success. You are able to gain familiarity with the structure, format, and level of difficulty.
  • Utilize the learning outcome statements to direct your focus (i.e. do you need to know the formula or just the concepts).
  • Examples in the text are very helpful.
  • Optimize your remaining study time so you can cover all the material, master the challenging topics, and keep the mastered topics fresh.
  • Scale back the final week and if you are not done reading then focus on questions.
  • Relax the day before the exam and ensure you gain plenty of rest.
  • Take as many practice exams as you can. Replicating the test environment for at least one is helpful.

Level II

  • Mark up the vignettes to easily reference the facts.
  • Repetition and practice will make you more efficient.

Level III

  • The questions and answers rely heavily on the curriculum.
  • About 700 graders look for key items to give credit. After 7 hours of looking at an answer, graders appreciate your efforts to make it easy to give out points (bullet points, underlining).
  • You can get partial credit even if your formula is not 100%.
  • There is no extra credit. If the question asks for three points, anything beyond will be ignored.

Future Exams

  • CFA Chicago gives out scholarships for all levels including the Level I exam in December.
  • The Study Group Kick-off Party and Open House for the December 2016 CFA Level 1 exam will be held on July 12th at Norther Trust.

“I’d far rather be happy than right any day,” except on exam day (adapted from Douglas Adams).

Illinois Institute of Technology Takes Top Prize in Chicago’s Local Level Final of the CFA Institute Research Challenge

DSC_2393The CFA Institute Research Challenge is an annual global competition for university students who assume the role of a research analyst. This multi-round competition provides hands-on mentoring and intensive training in financial analysis. Students value a stock, write an initiation-of-coverage report, and present their recommendations to a panel of judges, each of whom is a Charterholder and a highly regarded industry professional. Chicago’s Local Level Finals was held on February 5th and included five teams from local universities. The winning team advanced to the Americas Regional Finals, which will be held the week of April 11th in Chicago.

Each team had 10 minutes to present their reports on Mead Johnson Nutrition which sells nutritional products for infants and toddlers across the globe. The firm sells most of its products in the United States and China and primarily focuses on infant formula. The teams were given wide latitude to use any financial modeling and business analysis tools they believed to be most appropriate to generate a target price and to make a buy/sell/hold recommendation on the stock. Following the presentation, the judges had 10 minutes to ask the teams questions about their research process and the results. Teams were assigned colors to disguise their university affiliations.

DSC_2477The Purple Team (Illinois Institute of Technology) went first, focusing on Mead Johnson’s brand loyalty among customers as well as the growing Asian market. A detailed projection of the firm’s financials and a SWOT analysis were among the modeling tools used to determine a target price of over $93 and to issue a Buy recommendation on the shares. Drivers of their positive view included the lifting of China’s one-child policy, a strong brand presence in the U.S. and Asia, good customer loyalty, extensive supply chain and distribution channels, a robust financial position, and their belief that  the firm’s introduction of more premium priced products would add to the bottom line.

DSC_2483Next, the Blue Team (University of Illinois at Chicago) issued a Hold rating with a target price of $76. Positives for the firm according to this team were the lifting of the one-child policy in China, low dairy costs, and high brand loyalty, but they had concerns about downward currency pressures on the Yuan. The group’s valuation analysis combined a discounted cash flow analysis with relative comps among similar firms, including price to earnings data. They also included a scenario analysis, focusing on currency movements. In all, they believe that Latin America and Asia have strong growth potential for the firm, but have concerns about currency headwinds.

DSC_2468Team Orange (University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign) also issued a Hold rating with a target price of $78. They pointed to China’s one-child policy as a potential positive, but noted that a rise in breastfeeding could put pressure on the firm’s sales. The team noted that revenues and EBITDA have been growing, but the rate of growth has slowed. They also pointed to volatile currency movements as a risk factor for the firm. Multiple valuation models were used, including comparing similar segments of competitors and Monte Carlo simulation to generate a price target range. Finally, they used discounted cash flow models to pinpoint their target price.

DSC_2471The Gold Team (Loyola University Chicago) was decidedly more positive on the firm, issuing a Buy recommendation at $83, but noted that this recommendation was an upgrade from their initial Hold based on recent share price decline. The team determined that industry rivalry was a critical factor for the firm to contend with and pointed to a new contract with the U.S.’s WIC program which will help the firm’s products gain more shelf space in those markets. Valuation models used by the group included discounted cash flow, multiples valuation, and dividend discount. Before closing, the team noted the firm faced some head winds including commodity prices, foreign exchange risk, and a slowdown in China.

DSC_2475The final team, Brown (Valparaiso University) was the most pessimistic of the five groups and issued a Sell recommendation with a target price of $27. This team believes the threat of substitution is very high and was most concerned with the rising popularity of breastfeeding. They also believed the firm was pinning a lot of hope on the rising share of revenues from the Asian market and said the elimination of the one child policy may not have as big of an impact on increasing the birth rate as many believe. Their price target was built around a risk-adjusted discounted cash flow analysis which took into account a “macro risk” which upped the discount rate significantly.

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Winning Team! Illinois Institute of Technology

In the end, Illinois Institute of Technology won the judges favor. The team included Venkata B. Chintaluri, Thai (Samuel) H. Doan, Ming-Tao Lee, Rasinee Pongchairerks, Salonie Sehgal, and faculty advisor Michael Joseph Rybak, CFA. Congratulations IIT students and good luck at the Americas Regional Finals!

We would like to thank everyone involved with making this event possible including all the students, faculty advisors, judges, scorers, graders, and CFA Chicago’s Membership Engagement Advisory Group. Special thank you to Mead Johnson Nutrition for participating as this year’s feature company, Michel Cup, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer (Mead Johnson Nutrition), and Kathy McDonald, Vice President – Investor Relations (Mead Johnson Nutrition for taking the time to present to the participants at this year’s Company Presentation kickoff on November 20th, 2015. Thank you!

 

Illinois Institute of Technology: Venkata Chintaluri, Thai H. Doan, Ming-Tao Lee, Rasinee Pongchairerks, Salonie Sehgal, Faculty Advisor – Michael Rybak, CFA

University of Illinois at Chicago: Collin Scott Baffa, Michael DeSalle Jr., Ritesh Ghosh, Matthew Thomas Lewellen, Faculty Advisor – John Miller

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign: Zulay A. Sosa Bazante, Siwei Li, Vanditha Mysore Ravindranath, Tanvi Rotkar, Ning Wang, Faculty Advisor – Kevin Waspi, CFA

Loyola University Chicago: Robert Joseph Englert, Bryan Madding, Trung V. Nguyen, Rick Osty, Faculty Advisor – Steven Todd

Valparaiso University: Benjamin John Coxey, Kyle J. Crawford, Trent Tanber, Faculty Advisor – Bruce MacLean

 

CFA Society Chicago Membership Engagement Advisory Group Research Challenge Committee:

Deborah Koch, CFA: Co-Chair of Research Challenge Committee, Northern Trust

Larry Lonis, CFA: Co-Chair of Research Challenge Committee, U.S. Trust

Maura Murrihy, CFA: Co-Chair of Membership Engagement Advisory Group

Daniel Welker, CFA: Co-Chair of Membership Engagement Advisory Group

 

Judges

Graders Industry Mentors
Bruce Ebel, CFA

Joseph Grandis, CFA

Justin D. Hance, CFA

Kerry Jordan, CFA

Alan M. Meder, CFA, CPA

Carla Norfleet Taylor, CFA
 

Dorothea C. Gilliam, CFA

William Hyatt, CFA

Stephen Moy, CFA

Branimir Petranovic, CFA

Daniel J. Phillips, CFA

Joan Rockey, CFA, CAIA

Edward Trafford, CFA
 

Kevin Clearly, CFA

James C. Goss, CFA

Ben Hier, CFA

Jaime M. Katz, CFA

Kenneth Perkins, CFA

Stefan Quenneville, CFA

Steven Schwartz, CFA

John C. Simmons, CFA

Marie C. Winters, CFA, CAIA

John T. Wong, CFA


CFA Institute Research Challenge

Regional and Global Challenge Schedule:

https://www.cfainstitute.org/community/challenge/about/Pages/research_challenge_schedule.aspx

CFA Institute Research Challenge: 2015-16 Tournament Bracket

https://prezi.com/sf8vapymcbp0/cfa-institute-research-challenge-2015-16-tournament-bracket/

CFA Society Chicago Welcomes New Members and Recognizes Volunteers!

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On Thursday January 28, 2015, the CFA Society Chicago held its annual New Member and Volunteer Recognition Party at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel. The night was especially festive as attendees filled the room, networking with new faces and catching-up with returning volunteers; as the room dined on hors d’oeuvres and enjoyed a drink or two.

The purpose of the night was to welcome new members to the society and recognize the outstanding contributions made by current volunteers, as well as the Executive Committee, the Board of Directors, and Staff members of the CFA Society Chicago.

The highlight of the night began with the awards and recognition portion led by the CFA Society Chicago Chairman, Kerry Jordan, CFA. Kerry gave a wonderful overview of the event’s purpose and encouraged new members and current volunteers alike to continue to seek out the numerous volunteer opportunities within the CFA Society Chicago Advisory Groups.

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  • Communications Advisory Group
  • Distinguished Speaker Series Advisory Group
  • Education Advisory Group
  • Membership Engagement Advisory Group
  • Professional Development Advisory Group
  • Social Events Advisory Group

After the introduction and overview, the DSC_2371following volunteers were recognized for their outstanding contributions within their respective advisory group:

  • Bob Cohen, CFA – Communications Advisory Group;
  • Cosmin Lucaci-Oprea, CFA – Distinguished Speaker Series Advisory Group;
  • Thomas Gerald Hillman, CFA – Education Advisory Group;
  • Deborah L. Koch, CFA – MembershipDSC_2383 Engagement Advisory Group;
  • Larry Alan Lonis, CFA – Membership Engagement Advisory Group;
  • Michael Sullivan, CFA – Professional Development Advisory Group; and
  • Mark Cichra, CFA – Social Events Advisory Group.

Next-up was the recognition of the Advisory Group Co-Chairs. The co-chairs were recognized for their time, effort, and hard work while volunteering for within the advisory groups. In addition to applauding their contributions, each co-chair received an additional complimentary event ticket that can be used for admission to an upcoming CFA Society Chicago Event.

Things wrapped up with the awarding of numerous raffle prizes to the night’s attendees. Prizes included Starbucks giftcards, numerous restaurant gift certificates, and even an overnight stay at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers with a diner for two at Shula’s Steakhouse. In the end, the night finished just as it started, as a celebration with fun had by all.DSC_2385