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By Liz Warren-Pederson

Eller finance students took third place in the Chicago Quantitative Alliance Investment Challenge last month.

“The CQA Investment Challenge was six-month hedge fund competition,” said Alex Cohen, a finance and mechanical engineering double major who graduated in May. “The teams were required to create and manage a $10 million, long-short, beta-neutral portfolio meant to generate returns while eliminating market risk.” 

Cohen was on a team that also included Josh DiBiasi, Karmi Gutman, Laura Hobbs and Juan Peraza.

“We were mentored by UA alum Chris Campisano and [senior lecturer] Tom Gosnell, and I felt very lucky to be able to learn from such smart people over the course of the contest,” Cohen said. “Additionally, the team was made up of smart, fun, passionate students who had a genuine interest in what we were doing.”

One of the team’s strengths, he said, was the wide variety of skills and interests – over half its members graduated with double majors.

“We had at least one team member very strong on areas such as economics, accounting, financial modeling, trading experience, mathematical concepts, and organization/leadership,” he said. “As a result, the team trusted each other, and everybody was able to contribute to our success.”

The winning teams were announced at the annual CQA conference in Las Vegas. Final rankings were based on a weighted average of individual scores from the absolute return rank, the risk-adjusted return rank, and the rankings from the two reports. 

“This added to my Eller experience because it was a unique way to meet some great people and get involved in something that I am considering doing as a career,” Cohen said. “Getting the experience to go out and create a portfolio from the ground up was a great opportunity to learn from mistakes without the risk or pressure of actually losing somebody’s investment.”

“Even though this was our first time competing, the students earned third place out of 24 schools, beating Dartmouth, University of Chicago, Duke, UCLA, Rice, Purdue, University of Michigan, and Carnegie Mellon among others,” said Rick Sias, head of the department of finance. “So we’re obviously very proud of their hard work.”

Top image of City of Chicago courtesy Shutterstock.