Students from USF were among four teams to compete in the 2022 Ethics Invitational finals hosted by the CFA Society Tampa Bay on April 7 on the St. Petersburg campus.
The competition helps prepare the next generation of investment professionals by presenting them with ethical challenges they will face in the workplace. Most students in the competition are on track to become certified Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA), one of the most recognized credentials in investing.
“Ethical behavior goes beyond simply following laws and established rules. It is about knowing how to navigate ambiguous ethical situations and put the interests of investors first when the rules are unclear,” said Christine Brown, a board member with the CFA Society Tampa Bay.
The Ethics Invitational started in 2018 as a partnership between the CFA Society Tampa Bay and USF’s Muma College of Business. The competition has grown to nine teams from colleges and universities in Florida.
“It’s a great bridge for our students and for potential job opportunities,” said Leo Chen, director of the Student Managed Investment Fund at USF. “It’s a good networking opportunity, it helps students improve public speaking skills and they get to meet investment professionals. You can’t get that from the classroom.”
The USF team included Charles Diamond and Hetali Bhuta, seniors on the Tampa campus, and Miranda Brozik, a senior on the St. Petersburg campus.
In the first of two rounds in March, students were given an ethics case to analyze and make recommendations during a 10-minute video presentation. Judges based their decisions on the quality of the team’s understanding of ethical issues, the quality of their analysis, their recommendations and their presentation.
Four of those teams advanced to the finals held at the Kate Tiedemann School of Business and Finance. The USF team and panel of CFA judges met in person, while the other three teams joined virtually.
“Being in-person was the biggest challenge. I was a freshman when COVID-19 hit, so a lot of my experience has been online. To add that in-person factor was completely different,” Diamond said. “Overall, the introduction to the CFA and the ethical side of the business was a tremendous help to understand the landscape of being a professional in the finance industry.”
The case study for the finals included a real-life scenario where a portfolio manager received a tweet from a celebrity CEO asking his one-billion followers whether he should sell ten percent of the company he founded. The majority of his followers said yes. Using an online trading app, the CFA of the company quickly dumped 200 shares in his IRA. He then raced back to the office to unload five million shares of the company he owned across his client’s accounts.
Students were asked to analyze the ethics behind the CFA’s actions.
“I learned that competence and ethics are the two major elements that define the success of any financial firm. Compliance and regulations are not enough to create trust among investors. Firms and individuals need to develop an ethical framework that empowers employees and builds trust among investors,” Bhuta said after competing in the event.
The USF team placed fourth in the overall competition. CFA Society Tampa Bay and USF Muma College of Business hope to expand the event into a competition and financial ethics symposium for 2023.