A Griffith Business School team last night claimed first place in the final of the CFA Institute Research Challenge in Sydney.

John Fan, Andrew L’Estrelle, Euan Orsini and Jason Rayment saw off contenders from University of Technology Sydney, University of Woollongong and defending champions University of Sydney to take out the prestigious title.

The CFA Challenge is a global educational initiative that promotes best practices in equity research among the next generation of analysts through hands-on mentoring and intensive training in company analysis and presentation skills.

To qualify for the Sydney decider, the Griffith team compiled a professional-quality stock report based on an introductory presentation by Caltex Australia Limited at the launch of the Challenge in July.

The presentation skills of the four finalists went under the microscope last night with all four team members involved in a 10-minute presentation followed by a 10-minute Q&A session.

After consultation by a panel of judges made up with industry leaders Griffith University was announced the one-point winner, edging out previously unbeaten University of Sydney.

“We thought maybe this was our time,” team leader John Fan said. “It’s very exciting. It is literally a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“We had pushed very hard from the very start of the competition and we were constantly reaching for the highest standard. We knew we had a strong report and we made that the foundation of our presentation.

“We concentrated on the strongest part of the report, we kept it simple and clear, did not over-complicate it and emphasised the key points. I think that may have set us apart.”

The Griffith team now advance to the Asia-Pacific Regional Finals in Bangkok next April, one of two teams to represent Australia.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to see the leading teams in Asia. But first we have exams and assignments to deal with. I am finalising my thesis to be submitted in January.”

John is completing a PhD on momentum investing and commodity futures markets. His teammates Andrew, Euan and Jason are Bachelor of Commerce students at Griffith’s Gold Coast campus.

John paid tribute to the support team at the Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics, highlighting the input of academic advisor Dr Alexandr Akimov and industry advisor Ken Howard from RBS Morgans.

“Dr Akimov was extremely thorough, always encouraging and really had faith in us.

“We have rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed for the last two to three weeks. I think the result is a great payback on all that hard work.

“This has been a wonderful opportunity to broaden my experience which had been mainly academic to this point.

“The Challenge was a chance to expand into a more practical field by working with industry advisors and presenting in front of industry leaders. It gave me a new and different insight into the finance industry.”