Research Challenge

Research Challenge


About the Research Challenge


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 work in teams to research and analyse a publicly traded company — sometimes even meeting face-to-face with company management. Each team writes a research report on their assigned company with a buy, sell, or hold recommendation and may be asked to present and defend their analysis to a panel of industry professionals.

The first Research Challenge competition was hosted by the New York Society of Security Analysts in 2002 and involved just five teams from the New York area. Since then, the competition has grown to involve tens of thousands of students from over 900 universities in more than 75 countries.

The CFA Institute Research Challenge gathers together

  • university students,
  • investment industry professionals,
  • publicly traded companies, and
  • corporate sponsors

for local, regional, and global competition.

Additionally, all participants are introduced to and held to the standard of the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct. This annual educational initiative promotes best practices in equity research through hands-on mentoring and intensive training in company analysis and presentation skills.

How the CFA Institute Research Challenge Works
Local CFA societies and CFA Institute host and launch local competitions involving teams of three to five business and finance students from participating universities who work directly with a local company in researching and preparing a company analysis.

Analysis of a Public Company
Teams research a publicly traded company, and company management presents to the teams and participates in a Q&A session.

Mentoring by a Professional Research Analyst
Each team works with a CFA charterholder who mentors the team during the research process and reviews and critiques its report.

Writing a Research Report
Each team produces an Initiation of Coverage report on its chosen company. The report is reviewed and scored by a group of judges.

Presentation of Research to a Panel of Experts
The teams' final presentations are locally evaluated by high-profile panels of experts from top financial institutions: Heads of research, portfolio managers, and chief investment officers from the world’s top firms. The team with the highest combined report and presentation score is the winner.

Advancement to the CFA Institute Research Challenge Global Finale
The local champions advance to regional competitions in the Americas, Asia, and Europe, and the winners of those competitions advance to the global finale.


Research Challenge Terms


  • Faculty Advisors - the professor employed by the Team's university that provides guidance and direction to the Team throughout all levels of competition.
  • Graders – the individuals selected by the Host CFA Society India (IAIP) to evaluate the Written Reports.
  • Judges – the individuals selected by the Host CFA Society India (IAIP) to evaluate the Presentations.
  • Host – the CFA Society India (IAIP), CFA Institute or CFA Institute approved third-party responsible for sponsoring either the local level, regional level or global level of the CFA Institute Research Challenge.
  • Mentors - the CFA Charterholder that is assigned to the Team by the Host CFA Society India (IAIP) to review the Team’s Written Report and provide critique of the Presentation.
  • Participants - Facutly Advisors, Graders, Judges, Mentors, and Team Members involved in the CFA Institute Research Challenge.
  • Presentation - ten minute oral and visual presentation prepared by the Team.
  • Subject Company - the company assigned by the Host to the Team as the basis for the Written Report and Presentation.
  • Team - three to five undergraduate or graduate students that produce the Written Report and the Presentation.
  • Team Member - one of the three to five students comprising the Team.
  • Written Report - the written research report on the Subject Company prepared by the Team.