Frequently Asked Questions
What is the CFA Institute Research Challenge?
The CFA Institute Research Challenge is an equity research competition among student teams from the world’s top university business and finance programs. Students write an equity research report on a publicly traded company, and present their findings to an expert panel. The teams are judged on their written reports and the presentations and a winner is selected. Throughout the competition, leading investment professionals volunteer as mentors and judges and teach these students best practices in equity research and corporate analysis. Learn more about the Research Challenge.
When and where are the Regional and Global competitions this year?
Local-level challenges kick off between July and November and conclude between October and March of each year. Regional competitions are held in March and early April, followed by the Global Final in April. See this year's competition locations and dates.
How is the Challenge different from a “stock-picking” competition?
The focus of the CFA Institute Research Challenge is on learning best practices in equity research, corporate analysis, and formulating a convincing argument to defend conclusions. Students are mentored by an industry professional to conduct in-depth analysis on a single company and produce a full equity research report on that company. The winning team is picked based on the thoroughness of its analysis and knowledge of the company rather than whether their predictions of the stock price are correct.
How can I find a local CFA Institute Research Challenge close to me?
Local-level challenges are hosted by CFA Institute volunteers, most of who are affiliated with a local CFA society. View the full schedule and global map of the societies involved. If you cannot find a local society near your university, or if you do not see a local challenge for your area, please contact us.
What kind of time commitment is expected for the Research Challenge?
Students: In 2011, 72% of students participating in the CFA Institute Research Challenge spent 50 hours or more researching the subject company, and 26% of students spent 50 hours or more practicing or assembling their presentations.
Mentors: Teams are only permitted to use an Industry Mentor on substantive matters for a total of six (6) hours. Logistical work such as arranging meeting space and times does not count toward the six (6) hour limit. The meetings with the Industry Mentor must occur prior to submitting the Written Report. For each Local, Regional, or Global final in which the Team competes, the Industry Mentor may contribute an additional two (2) hours.
Sponsoring Professors: Teams are only permitted to use a faculty advisor on substantive matters for a total of ten (10) hours. Logistical work such as arranging meeting space and times and class attendance does not count toward the ten (10) hour limit. This ten (10) hour limit with the faculty advisor must occur prior to submitting the written report. For each local, regional, or global final in which the team competes, the faculty advisor may contribute an additional 3 hours.
What are the costs associated with participating in the Research Challenge?
Students: You do not need to pay to participate in the Research Challenge; however, there may be costs associated with travel to and from meetings and events. Local-level hosts may, at their discretion, provide financial assistance for transportation.
CFA Institute will cover round-trip economy airfare for the Winning Team of each eligible local-level competition (see our official rules) and one sponsored guest. CFA Institute only covers the lowest cost round trip option that takes travelers from their departure city to the competition location and back. If travelers decide to extend their stay, choose different layovers, etc. CFA Institute will only pay for lowest cost round-trip option. Extra costs will be incurred by the traveler.
CFA Institute does not cover the cost to attain a passport or visa in order to travel for the Research Challenge. If a travel visa is needed, CFA Institute will provide a sponsor letter to the local consulate or embassy to expedite the process.
Local hosts and societies: CFA Institute does provide funding for our local hosts. CFA Institute provides all local hosts with templates, sample budgets, advice on best practices, and ongoing support throughout the competition. Please contact us for more information.
Do I need to be enrolled in the CFA Program to participate in the CFA Institute Research Challenge?
You do not need to be enrolled in the CFA Program in order to participate in the CFA Institute Research Challenge.
I just earned my CFA charter – am I eligible to participate?
Charterholders are not eligible to participate in the CFA Institute Research Challenge. Please refer to our official rules for complete eligibility rules.
How does CFA Institute decide which students and universities will participate?
Students: CFA Institute does not select individual participants for the teams. Participating universities have their own selection criteria.
Universities: The local-level host determines which universities will participate in the CFA Institute Research Challenge in any given year. The number of universities who participate will depend on the resources and number of volunteers available to the local host. Although we try to accommodate everyone who is interested in the competition, not all universities will be able to participate.
For more information, please contact the sponsoring professor at your university.
I’m a professor – who should I contact if I’d like to sponsor a team from my university in a local Research Challenge?
Contact the nearest local host to express your interest in sponsoring a team from your university. The host of the will extend formal invitations to universities to participate. Please note that although we try to accommodate everyone who is interested in the competition, not all universities will be able to participate.
What kind of resources does CFA Institute provide to local societies hosting a local challenge? Do you have a list of best practices?
CFA Institute provides all local hosts with templates, sample budgets, advice on best practices, and ongoing support throughout the competition.
What other organizations are eligible to host local-level competitions?
Contact us if you are interested in hosting a local competition.
Can teams use existing research in their reports or presentations?
Yes, but volunteers who are charterholders (including industry mentors and faculty advisers) must request and receive permission from their firm to share reports prepared either within their firm or from outside sources. Failing to receive this permission would represent a possible misappropriation of firm resources, which would violate Standard IV(A) Duties to Employers (pages 105-114 of the Standards of Practice Handbook).
Additionally, all volunteers who interact with students should reinforce Standard I(C) Misrepresentation, which concerns plagiarism, to the students. Volunteers should ensure that students understand what is required when citing the work of another research analyst (pages 36-38 of the Standards of Practice Handbook).