Financial Management Association Sees Success in New York Case Competition


Photo Courtesy of FMA

FMA members stand on stage moments after their presentation.

Ryan Lanxton, Writer

Over spring break, the Financial Management Association chapter at UM-Flint travelled to New York to compete in a national case competition, taking third overall out of over 60 teams.

Facing stiff competition from other FMA chapters at universities as large as Auburn University and Oklahoma State, UM-Flint was able to overcome seemingly long odds and find success in their first true external competition.

“We’ve never done anything like this … This is the first time University of Michigan-Flint has ever been to this conference, let alone compete in this competition,” said Todd Fridline, a senior and vice president of FMA.

Consisting of hundreds of business, finance and investing students on various teams, each chapter was tasked with developing an advanced analysis of a given company. The case focused on Peloton, an at-home fitness company that sells exercise bikes.

Competitors had to come up with three main points of financial analysis: Macro economic, quantitative and qualitative. Each one poses their own individual challenges and requires deep research into the financial status and future predictions of the company. None of the teams were given much guidance and what they presented was left up to them.

The UM-Flint team, consisting of six members, broke off into “specializations” with each one focusing on a specific area. “I think why we were so successful with it was because we had different people in the club that we know couldn’t have time to specialize in that area,” said Austin McIntosh, a junior and President of FMA. “So we put the trust in everyone else to kind of branch off on their own and bring it all together.” 

After five hours of working on the case, pouring through any financial reports and projections they could find, each team submitted a four page paper outlining their findings. UM-Flint argued that although the market looked good for Peloton, their early investment strategies and lack of innovativeness could lead to potential future issues. 

After judges reviewed each teams’ paper, three were selected to return the next day and give presentations on them. Despite the UM-Flint team not expecting to be selected, their hard work paid off.

“We were joking before if we don’t get selected as the top three, we’ll just explore a little bit, kind of do some sightseeing … and then we were the first team they actually called. We kind of sat back,” said McIntosh.

The following day, the top three teams were tasked with giving a 10 minute presentation on their paper and fielded five minutes of questions in front of a panel of three judges. 

“Going to the conference itself was a win, it was a big step for the club itself. Placing was a top one itself, and then make it to the finals. I don’t think words really do it justice with how we really felt,” said McIntosh.

Although they finished third overall for the competition, McIntosh and Fridline believe it was the experience of getting to work hands-on with a case such as this that allowed them to get exposure to their future careers. The questions asked by the judges especially gave them insight into the mind of what a seasoned professional is looking for.

“They’re asking these questions because that’s what they do each day. It was a theory-based case but has practical application, so this stuff that we’re doing right now is what we’re going to be doing,” said Fridline.

While  McIntosh and Fridline credit their time spent in the classroom as an important aspect in learning business, they believe it’s experiences like these that truly prepare them for the real-world situations they will encounter.

“It’s different from learning in class where you learn something for two weeks or a month or whatever it is, and then you take a test,” said Fridline.

Even organizing the trip to New York proved valuable experience for them as they had to raise funds from various sources and organize their four day stay. While there, the team was able to visit places such as Wall Street and listen to speakers after the competition, absorbing any new material they could gather.

“A lot of what we picked up on this trip was stuff you won’t learn in the classroom,” said McIntosh. 

The UM-Flint team was shocked at their success, not too long ago, FMA was nearly unviable. “We were a club that, really a year ago, had three or four members. And really we weren’t recognized on campus,” said Fridline. 

The club’s focus is on educating and helping those who seek to grow their knowledge on all aspects of business, including accounting and investing. The club now maintains anywhere from 12 to 15 core members and is always open to anyone who would like to learn more on the topic.

Fridline wanted to note just how important it was that a team that was nearly on the verge of no longer being established was able to rally back and become an award-winning competitor in a national competition.

“UM-Flint took a group of students to New York City and placed in the top three in the country,” said Fridline. “It says a lot about UM-Flint as a whole campus, it says a lot about the School of Management as a small section of the campus.”