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From left, Nick Thompson, Kennedy Jarvis, and Sam Colvin scored the Auburn Financial Management Association's second-consecutive national championship at the Duff & Phelps YOUniversity Deal Challenge case competition.
"The win exemplifies the talent of the Auburn students and the FMA program on a national stage, and clearly shows our ability to go toe to toe with other elite institutions." — Tracy Richard, Director of Harbert College's Financial Leadership Program
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Kennedy Jarvis, a junior in finance, led the team this year, with Sam Colvin, a junior in mechanical engineering, and Nick Thompson, a sophomore in accounting and finance. The pitch wowed industry professional judges with their pre-COVID and post-COVID valuations of a multi-chain restaurant company in the United Kingdom in the March 30 final round, held virtually. The Harbert College students were awarded $15,000 for the first-place finish, defending the title against finalists from the University of Texas and California-Berkeley.
“I could not be prouder of these students and our program as a whole,” said Tracy Richard, Director of Harbert College’s Financial Leadership Program. “This competition is rigorous with 277 original entries this year. The win exemplifies the talent of the Auburn students and the FMA program on a national stage, and clearly shows our ability to go toe to toe with other elite institutions. Auburn FMA fielded a team in this international competition every year for the last five years, placing in the top five every year but one and winning the national title the last two years.”
In February 2020, Jarvis, Jonathan Hu and Jenny Herrell scored FMA’s first YOUniversity Deal Challenge national championship with a live final round presentation before judges in Chicago.
The annual YOUniversity Deal Challenge engages teams of business students from across the world to showcase their finance skills through simulated case studies. Top teams from each region – the Americas, Asia, India, and EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) – traditionally have met in a final international competition. COVID-19 continues to throw a wrench into those plans, however.
“Winning prestigious national competitions like these against other great business schools definitely puts us on the map,” said Jarvis, President of the Auburn Student Investment Fund and Incoming FMA President. “We want to market this to students in high school and say, ‘Look what we’re doing at Auburn.’ There are other great business schools in the South and winning these types of competitions legitimize Auburn FMA, our finance program, and the Harbert College of Business.”
For the March 30 finals, students were provided financial information regarding a hypothetical restaurant that recently made an acquisition. Students were challenged to determine whether or not this was a smart move and make valuations, pre- and post-COVID, on the restaurant. Students were given 30 uninterrupted minutes to present, then another 30 to answer questions.
“Our main deliverable was the valuation,” Jarvis said. “It was interesting, trying to find research materials and precedent transactions that accurately reflected the type of distress scenarios that we needed to see. This wasn't necessarily part of the deliverable, but we just threw in tidbits like, ‘We think they should invest in delivery kitchens because that's where we see the future of the restaurant industry, especially in the recovery from the pandemic.’”
Jarvis credited FMA – and a familiar face -- for best preparing the team for this competition and setting them up for bright futures beyond college.
“Auburn FMA has, hands down, changed my Auburn experience and my career path in ways that I couldn't have even imagined,” she said. “One of my favorite things that is evidenced through these case competitions is how the former students like to give back. And even beyond graduation, we receive so much support and involvement from our alumni. This year, Jimmy Brewster’s mentorship was invaluable. He graduated last December, and he's still giving back, helping us with the presentation and the valuation for no personal gain. He wants to see the organization flourish and grow and succeed.”
Brewster, a former FMA President and competitor on FMA case competition teams, was Harbert College’s Graduation Marshal for Spring 2020.
“Through Harbert College’s finance program and the FMA, I've learned so many technical financial skills, including capital structure analysis and valuation, that I wouldn't have learned otherwise,” Jarvis added. “Also, I've learned so much about gratitude and stewardship. I have only one year left at Auburn, but after graduation, I plan to be as involved as the committed alumni that have gone before me.”