Photo by Pareen Chaudhari
On Wednesday, 5 Nov. 2014, looking like a scene from Martin Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street (albeit minus the obscenities) the Investment Mastermind’s FinAnalyse final got underway. Over the course of the night, the five FinAnalyse finalists would be fighting it out to be declared the winner of the competition and Yale-NUS College’s most financially trustworthy. The title was ultimately won by Team UOB, which consisted of Alan Lo ’17, Manas Punhani ’17 and Maria Ivanenko ’17, with Team Signpost coming runner-up.
As the culmination of an entire semester of financial training, the finalists were required to impress a panel of distinguished judges with a 13 minute presentation on their chosen firm, as well as field five minutes of questioning. The panel was composed of three judges: Victor Chng, an equity investor and co-author of “Value Investing in Growth Companies,” Maxwell Robinson, an associate and Principia Management, and Dean of International and Professional Experience Anastasia T Vrachnos, who “invests in students.” Up for grabs were $300 worth of vouchers, a number of certificates and dinner with the distinguished panel of judges, as well as invitations to Victor Chng’s talk on value investing.
During the final, five companies were put under the scrutiny of the “masterminds,” as they are called. UOB, Tiger Airline, Cosmos Steel, Signpost and Hyflux were all compared with their competitors, had their sectors examined and their business decisions called into question. Once all that was done, the teams concluded on the business’s prospects, before recommending a sell or buy.
This, however, was only the end of a two- month competition. At the beginning of October, a call was put out for masterminds to form teams of 2-4 to collaborate, learn, analyse and pitch, as the posters put it. Initially, all participating teams were required to present a two page brief of a company of their choosing, at which point five teams were shortlisted to take part in the final.
FinAnalyse evolved from humble beginnings but its organizers had lofty ambitions. Originally devised as a small scale competition, by the founders of the Investor Masterminds, as a means to test their skills, the contest has now expanded to a formalised competition designed to promote investment skills. Payal Lal ’17, one of the organisers, commented that the competition’s primary focus is giving “participants exposure to analysing companies”—a skill that Lal, and her fellow masterminds, believe is important to develop for handling money in later life.
Speaking at the event, Elson Ong ’17 stated that the competition had been given a broader scope so that competitors did not have to specialise in one area of finance, evolving substantially from the original idea. However, the Investment Mastermind Team is not done there. According to Lal ’17, FinAnalyse 2014 was “a pilot round for a bigger competition.”
She hopes that next year’s FinAnalyse contest will be organised on a larger scale, across NUS.