Drew Reynolds, from left, Daniel Trentham, Leanah Chestnut, Hunter Holzhauer, Jacob Snook and Reedhi Bamnelkar.

For the fifth consecutive year, a team of University of Tennessee at Chattanooga students has won the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute Greater Tennessee Research Challenge

With the win, the five-member team advance to the Americas Regional semifinals, and the word “smile” really came into play.

Although they work together in the SMILE Fund (Student Managed Investment Learning Experience), the group of students comes from different majors around campus. Fund President Jacob Snook, the captain of this year’s team, and Daniel Trentham are finance students. Reedhi Bamnelkar (accounting), Leanah Chestnut (creative writing) and Drew Reynolds (engineering) also are member of the competition-winning crew.

For the competition, the team analyzed SmileDirectClub, a Nashville-based direct-to-consumer medical technology company that provides clear aligners to help straighten teeth.

“This was my most diverse group of students yet,” said Hunter Holzhauer, a Robert L. Maclellan and UC Foundation associate professor of finance and director of the SMILE Fund. “This is a victory for not only the Gary W. Rollins College of Business but for UTC.”

The students also were guided by industry mentor Ray Ryan, president, CEO and portfolio manager at investment advising firm Patten and Patten, Inc.

During the annual CFA competition, college groups—mostly comprised of graduate school students, unlike UTC’s all-undergrad squad—analyze a company’s financial strength, document it in a professional research report and present the research to a panel of judges.

This year’s competition—conducted through Zoom—could have been especially challenging due to its virtual format, but Holzhauer said his group was ready for the challenge.

“They won both the report part of the competition and the presentation Q&A part of the competition and did a fantastic job at both parts,” he said. “They had their Q&A, where they were grilled by the judges on Zoom, and our students did it flawlessly.

“Each one of them put in hundreds of hours of work and they did the vast majority of that work with each other via Zoom, and this team was never intimidated by this new situation. They decided from the get-go that they were going to make the best of it. They not only survived it during COVID, I think they thrived. They found a way to make this a more efficient learning experience, and I was very impressed.”

The Americas Regional semifinals are slated to take place April 15-16, and the Global final is set for April 22.




Media Relations Contacts: Email UTC Media Relations or call 423-425-5119.

Chuck Wasserstrom is an executive staff writer in the UTC Office of Communications and Marketing.

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