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Inaugural Investment Portfolio Challenge a great success

A team from The University of Tulsa took top honors in the inaugural Investment Portfolio Challenge, held at the Collins College of Business on Nov. 20, 2019. Five teams comprised of undergraduate and graduate students from The University of Tulsa, Oklahoma Christian University and the University of Oklahoma competed to see who could devise the best stock market portfolio using a hypothetical $5 million budget.

“It was my distinct pleasure to be a part of the inaugural Investor Portfolio Challenge,” said Madeline Soukup, a member of TU’s winning entry. “My teammates and I gained valuable experience in equity analysis, portfolio optimization and leadership. Thanks to the tireless efforts of my team we were awarded first place. I would also like to thank all of the organizing staff and our wonderful judges for making the experience a fruitful one.”

All the teams displayed considerable analytical skill, financial acumen and market intuition during their 45-minute presentations and 15-minute Q&A sessions. The judges were business professionals from Mariner Wealth Advisors, Bank of Oklahoma, Cavanal Hill Group, Phillips 66, Council Oak Wealth Advisors, Verizon, ONEOK, Don P. Quint & Associates and Williams.

First place: University of Tulsa (Team 1)

TU's team took first place in the 2019 Investment Portfolio Challenge
University of Tulsa team (with Professor Tally Ferguson, second from left)
  • Trisha Cung
  • Harry Dinh
  • Stephen McDonald
  • Aleks Rapp
  • Claire Statton
  • Madeline Soukup



Second place: Oklahoma Christian University (Team 5)

Oklahoma Christian University team took second place in the 2019 Investment Portfolio Challenge
Oklahoma Christian University team
  • Vinicius Alves
  • James Geis
  • Jackson High
  • Kimberly Merritt
  • Seth Reiter



Planning is already underway for the second Investment Portfolio Challenge in November 2020.

Title sponsor

Logo for Council Oak Wealth Advisors (title sponsor)

Breakfast sponsor

Logo for Mariner Wealth Advisors (breakfast sponsor)

Investment Portfolio Challenge teams face the market – and each other

OK, teams, you each have $5 million to invest. Get to it!

In a nutshell, that’s the premise and guideline for the inaugural Investment Portfolio Challenge at The University of Tulsa. During much of fall 2019, teams of four to six students from TU and other universities in the region are deploying their analytical skills, financial acumen and financial market intuition in a quest for stock market success.

On Nov. 20, each of the teams will spend 45 minutes – plus a 15-minute Q&A – presenting their recommendations for optimal weighting of the 11 Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS®) sectors in the S&P 500® index. They will also recommend up to three stocks in each sector, worth a maximum cumulative budget of $5 million.

No risks, all benefits

The Collins College of Business is hosting the Investment Portfolio Challenge and leveraging the finance department’s Student Investment Fund and attendant course infrastructure. The course’s faculty adviser, Tally Ferguson, serves as an adjunct instructor of finance at TU. Ferguson is also a senior vice president and director of enterprise risk management at BOK Financial. The Investment Portfolio Challenge grew out of Student Investment Fund, a popular hands-on investing course taught by Ferguson and established in 1997 by Friends of Finance. The Student Investment Fund is among the 25 largest student-managed investment funds in the United States.

“Students who take part in the competition will benefit from close, sustained engagement with core finance concepts of portfolio diversification and fundamental analysis and stock-valuation,” Ferguson said. “It will also be a great opportunity to work as part of a team. Students will be able to share ideas with others whose perspectives and research techniques might be quite different.”

Aleks Rapp, a TU accounting and finance senior, said he hopes “to see great competition and thinking outside the box from a bunch of individuals.” There are six people on Rapp’s team: “They are all highly talented and great individuals to work with, and we’re all super excited to be competing. We’re excited to learn and we like to put work into things we are passionate about.”

One of the team members is Madeline Soukup, a senior double-majoring in economics and finance. “I am in charge of macroeconomic analysis for the team,” she said. “My role is to set the stage for what the equity analysts are going to pay attention to when they are making their decisions, such as any major risks or growth opportunities. It’s my job to identify those.”

“The benefits of this competition for students can’t be underestimated,” Soukup said. Drilling down into the learning benefits, Rapp underscored “the real-world applicable experience of trying to figure out how to put everything together in one portfolio. That’s something I believe employers will be interested in, as is being able to deliver a presentation in front of other people.” Added Soukup: “Being able to demonstrate to employers that you are capable of communicating effectively and that you are effective in the tools of your trade is extremely valuable.”

Indeed, Ferguson’s sights are also set on the business community. By having industry representatives serve as the competition’s judges, he noted, participating students will gain exposure to and networking time with potential employers.


Would you like to be part of the audience for the Investment Portfolio Challenge and see what the competitors bring to the table? RSVP to join the audience for the team presentations by registering online.