The stock pitch that landed a Wharton student a hedge fund interview

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Several fintech companies and an app that hosts user debates recently partnered to launch a video-based challenge that pitted hopeful investment managers against one another in an online battle of wits. The prize: a guaranteed interview with New York hedge fund Apex Capital.

The Stocks Debate Challenge, hosted on the Micgoat app, brought together hundreds of candidates from universities in the U.S. and abroad to show off their investment ideas and debate skills before a virtual panel of experts. The idea behind the challenge was to help develop new pipelines for talent that may be attending universities that traditionally don’t open doors for students interested in a career on the buy-side. In that sense, it worked and it didn’t. The three winners all happen to attend top schools and hold prestigious internships, but the judges knew nothing of their backgrounds and made their final decisions based solely on the short videos, we're told. The cream rose to the top through merit, it seems.

The winners include Craig Uyeno, who’s studying economics at Tufts University while interning at the Chamber of Digital Commerce in Washington D.C.; James Rao, a bachelor’s candidate at the UPenn’s Wharton School who is currently interning at a multi-family office in Boston (following fall and winter internships at an investment bank and private equity firm); and Alexander Khan, an economics major at the University of Texas at Austin and a summer analyst at J.P. Morgan, according to LinkedIn. The three schools are consensus top-50 U.S. universities, with Wharton and UT-Austin ranked in the top five for finance majors.

While you can’t say definitively that the three winners look better on paper than the rest of the competition, their undergraduate resumes would likely garner plenty of attention. No diamond was found deep in the rough, yet the competition clearly identified the people who have put in the work. Rao heads Wharton’s undergraduate finance club, Khan is on UT’s securities investment team, while Uyeno is on the dean’s list at Tufts. Frankly, the main takeaway may be that marathon interview schedules embraced by financial firms may not be all that necessary. The panel picked the three after watching just a few minutes of video.

For Apex Capital, the only potential problem may be youth. While the competition was open to current students and graduates, Khan won’t earn his degree until 2020 while Rao and Uyeno are scheduled to graduate in 2021. Khan, Uyeno and Rao told us they haven’t yet been contacted by Apex Capital and don’t know the logistics surrounding the interview but were told they’d hear from the firm shortly. Hopefully the hiring managers at Apex have a long memory.

Micgoat CEO Marta Lopata said the partner companies plan to host additional competitions in the near future. She said other firms asked to see resumes from some contestants who ranked in the top 10.

Check out the short video below that earned Rao second place in which he argues that value investors should try to time markets.


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