Experiential / Reality-based Learning / April 27, 2016

Smith Hosts 13th Annual Wikler Finance Case Competition

Smith student Philip Peker ’18 writes about the Joseph Wikler Memorial Finance Case Competition on April 22, 2016, at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.

Friday, April 22, 2016, marked the thirteenth year that undergraduate finance students participated in the esteemed “Joseph Wikler Memorial Finance Case Competition.” Although not a graduate of Smith, Joseph Wikler sought to connect with the students at UMD while he was living in the area and serving on the board of Lemma Senbet. He wanted to give finance students a hands-on platform to apply what they learn in the classroom, and give professionals the chance to “grill them,” as Dean Alexander Triantis, a close friend of Wikler said. And so, 13 years ago Wikler, professor Susan White, and the Smith School paired up to begin the legacy that would become the Wikler Case Competition, pitting the best finance students against each other in a test for the sharpest and quickest finance brains. The competition has continued thanks to Joseph Wikler’s wife, Madeline, and her generous support and sponsorship.

This year, eight groups went head to head in search of the best solution to a healthcare merger case. It was the most challenging and relevant case the competition has laid out for the student’s since its inception. Judging the students and their strategies was a panel of veterans in the finance industry: Norm Oremland, Bob Caplons, Barbara Maffei, Andrew Ma, and Mark Taranto.

After several grueling hours of scrutiny and deliberations, winners were chosen. Reid Danels, Ray Joyce, and Conor Moore clinched first place, receiving $1,000 each (they are all in Clinical Professor David Kass' BMGT 440 course). Second place went to Nishka Batra, Emilie Boyer, Anthony Galletti, Louis Kuta, and Sonia Parveen, with individual prizes of $500. Finally, Jake Biedronski, Jalen Brooks, Michael Du, David Niezelski, and Luis Von Hoch received third place and $100 each. All teams, however, were worthy of honorable mentions as per their hard work, ingenuity, and quantitative prowess. The event finished in high spirits, with all the teams breathing a collective sigh of relief as they helped themselves to some snacks.

“This case competition is a very real-world situation. Some students will go on to become financial analysts, and these cases are exactly the kinds of things students will be analyzing,” said Susan White, competition coordinator and finance professor at Smith. For students studying disciplines like finance, learning the theory is only half the battle. Applying the theories, strategies, quantitative models, and analysis tactics learned in the classroom to solve real issues clients are having is a perfect taste of what is to come for them. Because of opportunities like the Wikler Case Competition, these students do not have to wonder how the real world of finance will look like. At these case competitions, Smith becomes the real world.

“Companies are looking for students who have very strong analytical skills, and are also able to present the main points in a succinct and persuasive way, visually and verbally. Boiling down a complicated analysis into a snapshot for the judges, that is what companies look for when recruiting,” Dean Alex Triantis shared. The value of putting something like this on a resume cannot be overstated. It really shows an employer that a student not only knows what he or she is talking about, but that they are equipped with the right tools and skills to make big decisions for companies and take command. As a finance student, this exhibition of leadership is the culmination of a successful Smith experience. “It’s important that students get the opportunity to practice their communication skills as well,” continued Dean Triantis. It’s one thing to know the right solution, it’s another thing to communicate it effectively to the client. This subtlety is what separates the boys from the men in the professional world of financial analysis.

Winners Reid Danels, Ray Joyce, and Conor Moore seemed to be on a steady path towards professional maturity, as they looking ahead towards their prized investment banking and private equity internships at Stifel, Greenspring Associates, and Deutsche Bank, respectively.

For more information about the undergraduate program at Smith, visit www.rhsmith.umd.edu/undergrad.

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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