Finance master students win Benelux CFA Challenge

Finance and Investment students from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) are proving just how far they have come in developing their knowledge and abilities. A team from the MSc Finance and Investments Advanced programme has won the Benelux round of the CFA Institute Research Challenge. The Benelux finals of the world's leading investment research competition took place at the Amsterdam Stock Exchange on 16 February.


It is the second year running that students from RSM have won the Dutch round and triumphed in the second round of this global competition, this time against 14 competitors from universities throughout the Benelux area. Three teams including RSM were chosen to go to Amsterdam, where they pitched their proposals to a panel of industry professionals. As the winning team of the Benelux round, RSM will head to Prague for the third round, the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) regional finals on 26 April 2017.

Academic advisor Professor Dennis Jullens said, “Their strong performance definitely creates expectations for the next stage in Prague.” Daria Belenkova, a member of last year's winning team said: "I had the feeling RSM would win even before the results were announced. They had stronger arguments in the pitch and handled the jury's questions better."

Months of research and training

For the Benelux competition, the RSM team wrote a research report for Nedap, a Netherlands-based technology company, and included a recommendation to ‘buy, sell or hold’. The finals in Amsterdam concluded months of company research including interviews with company management, competitors and clients, and presentation training.

RSM's team included Bowe Visser from the Netherlands, Mike Gruenwald from Germany, Michelle Amory from the Netherlands, Piotr Pylka from Poland, and Concha Zimmer from Germany. Competing against RSM were teams from Tilburg University and the University of Louvain. Each team had 10 minutes to pitch their proposals to three judges, and 10 minutes to answer questions.

Team member Mike Gruenwald said: “It required drawing on all the analytical tools we have learned as well as going beyond classroom theory to develop an understanding of the bigger picture. This meant understanding the people from the company, the dynamics within the company, and the industry.”

Hands-on training and application

The global CFA Institute Research Challenge is an annual competition that provides university students with hands-on mentoring and intensive training in financial analysis. Organised by the CFA Institute, a global association of investment professionals, student teams from around the world match their abilities to research and analyse a publicly traded company and pitch an investment strategy. Local (country) competitions advance to three regional finals – in this case the Benelux final – and ultimately, a global final.

The CFA Institute is responsible for designating the Chartered Financial Analyst qualification. RSM team member Michelle said: “The CFA Research Challenge was an effective way to apply what I have learned in the courses as well as hone the skills I need for the CFA exam, which I will be taking this June.”

Applying knowledge and skills

The CFA Research Challenge gives university students experience of working with industry advisors and company management teams. They get direct and individual feedback from an academic advisor and an industry executive as they develop skills in teamwork, communication, risk, diversification, company analysis, industry analysis and investing – an excellent preparation for jobs in equity research.

Team member Concha said: “It was and still is a great experience to apply our knowledge to a listed, Dutch company.”

Another team member, Bowe, said: “My most memorable moment was right before we walked on stage. We came together and said, 'Let’s make sure this is not the end. Let’s make ourselves and everyone else in RSM MSc Finance and Investments Advanced proud.' We walked on stage as a team, confident that we would do an amazing job.”

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top 10 research-based business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who carry their innovative mindset into a sustainable future thanks to a first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes. Study information and activities for future students, executives and alumni are also organised from the RSM office in Chengdu, China.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Marianne Schouten, Media & Public Relations Manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

Accounting and control , Companies , Faculty & Research , Finance , Homepage , In the spotlight , International , Newsroom , Master , China