GRA 6562 CFA Research Challenge

GRA 6562 CFA Research Challenge

Course code: 
GRA 6562
Course coordinator: 
Janis Berzins
Course name in Norwegian: 
CFA Research Challenge
Product category: 
MSc in Finance
2023 Autumn
Active status: 
Level of study: 
Teaching language: 
Course type: 
One semester

The course focuses on developing valuation skills to produce an equity analyst report on a company, presentation skills to develop an effective presentation based on the report, and debating soft skills to effectively conduct a Q&A session. The skills developed in the course will allow students to successfully compete in CFA Institute Research Challenge- a personal challenge previous BI teams have undertaken and performed at the top level.

The course is seminar-based, and students will focus on understanding one current company in depth: working on business description, industry, and competition analysis, evaluating the ESG/sustainability performance, developing a report of the target company's expected financials, risk analysis, fundamental and relative valuation. Students will be challenged to understand the company well enough to come up with a compelling economic investment thesis of the company's future developments. 

The course is a combination of regular meetings, which will start in October and end at the end of December (slowing down for the exam period), visits from various industry and academic guest lecturers on valuation topics, soft skills such as presentation and communication skills, and visits of previous competition groups on key competition skills. The internal elimination round is in December/January.

Students are expected to compete, but it is not necessary for the course. Priority will be given to those who want to compete. The course grade is independent of the competition.

For further information about the Research Challenge, see

CFA Institute Research Challenge

Learning outcomes - Knowledge
  • Ability to identify sources of value in a business, transform them into investment theses, and communicate the results via written report, presentation, Q&A session by using current industry standard tools and best practices.
Learning outcomes - Skills
  • Develop, structure, and continuously improve the following hard and soft skills related to
    • Written equity analyst report
    • Equity analyst pitch
    • Handling Q&A sessions
  • Value the ethical issues and conflicts of interest that arise in finance
  • Create a detailed map between ESG and SDG taxonomy and the forecast of cash flow and the cost of capital.
  • Synthesize in-depth tools taught in Applied Valuation, Economics, Research Methodology, Investments, and Quantitative Methods to create a concise story about the potential firm value.
General Competence


  1. Digital modeling skills, in-depth Excel modeling of valuation models,
  2. Internationally recognized analysis skills,
  3. Recognize the value of a sustainable business model,
  4. Soft presentation and Q&A skills.
Course content
  • Full valuation of a real-life case by integrating knowledge from previous courses,
  • Financial statement analysis, 
  • Equity analyst report,
  • Review of valuation methods/theory,
  • Soft communication skills.
  • Link ESG, SDG, and sustainability with valuation.
Teaching and learning activities

The course is applied, industry- and skills-oriented, and applicable to many career paths in finance and is a fantastic opportunity to enhance your CV and overall marketability. The structure of the course will prepare you for the CFA Research Challenge- one of the toughest international case competitions- organized by the CFA Institute and based on the best international practices in finance. As part of the course, you will compete for a chance to participate in a national elimination round. The winner of the national round earns the chance to participate in the subregional round ... EMEA regional round ... the Global final round. The BI competition team has been at the EMEA final round five times and at the Global round four times, becoming the Global Champions in 2021. The experience is truly memorable. As part of the preparation, you will work with an industry mentor to fine-tune your analysis, presentation, and Q&A setup.

You will have weekly meetings with faculty and\or industry mentor or guest lecturer to develop the report and to rehearse the presentation. Guest lecturers will focus on communication skills, valuation topics, and competition skills, or will conduct practice presentations.

The course builds on the valuation skills developed in Corporate Finance, Applied Valuation, Economics, or similar courses. The course will introduce you to the work of financial analysts by conducting an in-depth analysis of one company. You will learn how to produce an efficient analyst report and how to communicate your results by presenting your findings and arguing for buy or sell recommendations based on your case. You will:

  • By integrating skills from the previous courses develop an investment thesis to understand how the company makes money, what potential it has, and at what risk.
  • Review how valuation approaches such as Enterprise Discounted Cash Flow (DCF), Adjusted Present Value, Equity DCF, and multiples relate to the value of a company.
  • Communicate concisely an economic argument of your valuation thesis.
  • Incorporate overall business analysis in the company valuation.
  • Understand how to focus your report to efficiently communicate your findings.
  • Master sensitivity analysis to support your arguments.

    This is one of the very few opportunities to enhance your Excel modeling skills in the manner demanded by the industry.

Software tools
No specified computer-based tools are required.
Additional information

The exam for this course has been changed starting academic year 2023/2024. The course now has two exam codes instead of one. It is not possible to retake the old version of the exam. Please note new exam codes in the Exam section of the course description. 

It is the student’s own responsibility to obtain any information provided in class.

Honor Code
Academic honesty and trust are important to all of us as individuals and represent values that are encouraged and promoted by the honor code system. This is the most significant university tradition. Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the ideals of the honor code system, to which the faculty are also deeply committed, including the use of AI tools. Any violation of the honor code will be dealt with in accordance with BI’s procedures for cheating. These issues are a serious matter to everyone associated with the programs at BI and are at the heart of the honor code and academic integrity. If you have any questions about your responsibilities under the honor code, please ask.


All courses in the Masters programme will assume that students have fulfilled the admission requirements for the programme. In addition, courses in second, third and/or fourth semester can have specific prerequisites and will assume that students have followed normal study progression. For double degree and exchange students, please note that equivalent courses are accepted.


Deviations in teaching and exams may occur if external conditions or unforeseen events call for this.

Required prerequisite knowledge

Corporate Finance and/or Applied Valuation course.

ExamWeightInvigilationDurationSupport materialsGroupingComment
Exam category
Form of assessment
Written submission
Exam code
GRA 65622
Grading scale
Grading rule
Internal examiner
Examination when next scheduled course
8 Week(s)
Group (2 - 5)
Written final report, 10 individual and group interim reports
Exam category
Form of assessment
Multimedia production
Exam code
GRA 65623
Grading scale
Grading rule
Internal examiner
Examination when next scheduled course
1 Semester(s)
Group (3 - 5)
Presentation and Q&A (submission of video)
Type of Assessment: 
Ordinary examination
All exams must be passed to get a grade in this course.
Total weight: 
Sum workload: 

A course of 1 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of 26-30 hours. Therefore a course of 6 ECTS credits corresponds to a workload of at least 160 hours.