A team of undergraduate Finance students from the David Eccles School of Business recently made a splash in the CFA Institute Research Challenge, competing with teams from more than 800 universities from around the world and landing in the top 20 teams for all of North and South America.

The feat was all the more impressive considering the team representing the U—junior Alex Schaaf, senior Alex Wall, senior Bryce Whiting, senior Benton Sturt and junior Jacob Clark—was mostly competing against teams of MBA students, including winning the Utah state competition to move on to the Americas battle in Colorado.

The team members figure they spent about 1,500 collective hours working on the competition beginning in November, including long days, nights and weekends holed up together or separately researching different aspects of the company they were assigned, Extra Space Storage, Inc. , a self-storage Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) headquartered in Salt Lake City. “I saw them hard at work in the trading room when I got out of class at 10 p.m., and weekend mornings,” said Dr. Elizabeth Tashjian, the team’s faculty advisor. “They ordered arcane books on the industry, and taught themselves about REITs.”

The competition involved creating both a written report and giving a presentation to a panel of industry professionals. As Whiting described it, the report was quite a task, a 42-page document that included valuation methods, estimated share pr