Research Challenge

Annual global competition for university students to gain hands-on experience and training in financial analysis


The CFA Institute Research Challenge is an annual global competition that provides university students with hands-on mentoring and intensive training in financial analysis. Students gain real-world experience as they assume the role of a research analyst and are tested on their ability to value a stock, write an initiation-of-coverage report, and present their recommendations.

This is an educational initiative in which leading industry professionals actively promote best practices in securities research to students from the world’s top business schools. Throughout the competition, university teams are mentored in writing an equity research report on a publicly-traded company. Each level of the Research Challenge culminates in a presentation and defense of that research to a panel of investment industry experts, who select the best presentation. The winning teams advance to participate in Regional competitions hosted in Asia Pacific, EMEA, and the Americas.

CFA North Carolina Research Challenge Winners 2021


Students work in teams to research and analyze a publicly traded stock — sometimes even meeting face-to-face with company management. Each team produces an initiation-of-coverage report on their assigned stock with a buy, sell, or hold recommendation and may be asked to present and defend their thesis to a panel of industry veterans.

The winning team from CFA Society North Carolina competition advances to the Americas regional competition hosted by CFA Institute.

The winner from the Americas regional competition will advance to the Global Final, where one team will emerge as the global champion of the CFA Institute Research Challenge.


October – November

10/24/2023 – Kickoff and preliminary research

11/06/2023 – Deadline to register with the CFA Institute

11/06/2023 – Company presentation

December – January

01/11/2024 -Mentors receive first draft

01/20/2024 – Final report due

Interim – Report grading

February – April

02/9/2024 – Top teams presenting announced

02/24/2024 – Local final presentations

03/2024 – Sub-regional finals

04/2024 – Regional Semifinals

04/2024 – All-Region Finals

05/2024 – Global Finals


  • Networking Opportunities
    Offers a wide variety of networking opportunities
  • Learn from Current Professionals
    Gives you direct interaction with financial professionals
  • Resume Builder
    Enhances your CV/resume


It all starts at the local level. Local Hosts made up of approved volunteers and CFA Institute society members organize and judge the local level Research Challenge competitions.

Find out if your university participates by asking your professor or contacting your nearest CFA Institute member society. 

If your university does participate, contact your faculty advisor and ask for details on how to become a team member.

If you learn your university has not participated before, ask a professor to become the faculty advisor. University teams consist of three to five undergraduate or graduate students that produce the written report and the presentation.

You are eligible to participate as a team member if:

  • You are a full-time student at a participating university
  • You do not hold the CFA Charter
  • You have never worked in a role within the core investment management profession, as defined by the CFA Institute Mission
  • You have never participated in the CFA Institute Research Challenge
  • You are eligible under local competition rules
  • Note that eligibility does not guarantee your participation in the competition.


Volunteers Needed for CFA Institute Research Challenge hosted in North Carolina. Please contact us if you are interested in volunteering.

The Faculty Advisor serves as not only the primary advisor to the student teams but also runs the team selection process and serves as the primary university contact with the local level host of the CFA Institute Research Challenge.

Teams that have done well in past competitions have received a substantial degree of involvement and support from the university’s faculty and administration.

Each group is paired with an industry professional that will serve as a mentor. The primary responsibility of this individual is to instill a “real-world” industry perspective into the students’ theoretical knowledge base, not to teach students how to construct models or perform other fundamental analysis. The Faculty Advisor should ensure that students have a firm grasp of the basic analytical techniques necessary for this project.

Successful teams often have great support from their Faculty Advisor and Industry Mentor. It is best to work strategically with the Industry Mentor throughout the season.

Industry Mentors should be CFA Charterholders in good standing. Reports are for educational purposes only, and the information contained in them may not be used by mentors to make recommendations to clients or the public at large.

The primary responsibility of the Industry Mentor is to provide a “real-world” industry perspective into the students’ theoretical knowledge base. Industry Mentors are not responsible for teaching students how to perform analysis.

Teams are only permitted to use an Industry Mentor on substantive matters for a total of six (6) hours. Successful teams often have great support from their Industry Mentor and Faculty Advisor. It is best to work strategically with the Faculty Advisor throughout the season.
Industry Mentors receive 1 PL credit & 1 SER credit

Report graders should be CFA Charterholders in good standing. Reports are for educational purposes only, and the information contained in them may not be used by graders to make recommendations to clients or the public at large.

The teams typically consist of both undergraduate and graduate students. They are not CFA Charterholders and have not worked previously in equity analysis. Please disclose any potential conflicts of interest.

Time Commitment required varies widely among graders. On average, each report should take about two hours to evaluate.
Graders receive 4 PL credits

Judges should be CFA Charterholders in good standing. The role of a judge is to listen to the student presentations (10 minutes in length), quiz the students on their research and recommendation, and evaluate them accordingly. No preparation is needed in advance.

The commitment for the position is as a judge on a panel on the day of the presentations. The presentations run from 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM, lunch is provided, with the announcement of the winning team following.

Judges receive 4 PL credits

Timekeepers sit-in on the presentations to time and provide a “One Minute” warning to the presenting team. 

The time commitment is 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM on the day of presentations.

Team Escorts organize the teams assigned, ensuring they are prepared to go once the Timekeeper indicates the Judges are available for the next presentation. Team Escorts ensure that the upcoming team quietly waits their turn and cannot hear any other presentations.

Ushers also ensure that no one enters the presentation room once a team has started. 

The time commitment is 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM on the day of presentations.

CFA Institute Research Challenge champion trophy