Graduate students Swapnil Devaraneni, Ravikiran Dhulipala, Aditya Vijaikumar and Vinayak Prabhu stand with Ronnee Ades, (center) director of MQF Career Management and team adviser.

Rutgers quants are regional champs

The four students from the Master of Quantitative Finance Program will go to New York City on April 14 to compete against 11 other finalists for a first place prize of $10,000 in the PRMIA Risk Management Challenge.

For a second year in a row, students from the Rutgers Master of Quantitative Finance are finalists in the PRMIA Risk Management Challenge.

The team of first-year MQF students – Ravikiran Dhulipala, Vinayak Prabhu, Aditya Vijaikumar and Swapni Devaraneni – competed against 22 teams and came out ahead of the University of Connecticut, which finished second, and third-place winner Columbia University. A team of Rutgers MQF students also won the regional competition last year.

The Professional Risk Managers’ International Association holds the challenge annually as a way of providing students with an opportunity to experience what it’s like to be a risk manager. It’s also a way for companies to identify new talent, which isn’t lost on the students in the competition.

“I’m an aspiring risk manager,” Prabhu said. “This gave me a platform to showcase my analytical skills to the professionals I aspire to work with.”

This year, the student teams were required to analyze the regulatory pressures on GE Capital following the financial crisis of 2007-2008 and to evaluate the risk it posed for shareholders. As part of the case, the students also had to examine the impact of Berkshire Hathaway’s investment in the company and take a position on what GE’s board should do with the troubled business.

The teams had 15 minutes to present its case followed by 10 minutes of questions from the judges. Twenty-one teams were broken into three heats of seven to compete in round one of the competition and the three finalists competed to win the regional stage.

The Rutgers students, who named their team MQF Risky Business, said they spent a lot of time analyzing material they were presented as part of the challenge, but they also supplemented that information with details they found in GE’s regulatory filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In the weeks leading up to the competition, they juggled 20 hours of classes a week around sessions with advisers and group meetings near the Bloomberg terminal, which gave them access to the SEC documents. “Any spare time that we could find, we spent working on the case,” Dhulipala said.

The MQF Risky Business team in front of a Bloomberg machine at Rutgers Business School.

Ronnee Ades, the director of the MQF Career Management Office, advised the team. The team also received help from professors Steve Dym and Andrzej Ruszczynski.

The regional competition also included networking, an added bonus for the students and another reason the students wanted to compete. “These are some of the best risk managers in the country,” Prabhu said.

The four students, who are all from Southern India, were friends going into the competition which turned out to be an advantage. “The fact that we were such great friends aided us a lot,” Prabhu said. “We know the strengths and weaknesses of one another.”

The team advances to the next stage of the competition on April 14. The MQF students will vie against 11 teams from around the world in the PRMIA International Risk Management Challenge in New York City. The first place winner will receive $10,000.

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