Finance Students Advance in Contest to Create Net-Zero Portfolio Strategy

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By Scott Lewis

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Benjamin Barber, Martin Armas Chavez, Fenglin Wang, and Soe Moe Hein

A team of Illinois Institute of Technology finance students has advanced to the semifinals of a prestigious global competition in which students create innovative investment strategies for pension funds and other large institutional investors to use in addressing significant social and economic issues.

Team Planet Z, representing Illinois Tech, is among the 25 teams selected to compete in the semifinal round of the McGill International Portfolio Challenge (MIPC), the world’s largest buy-side university finance competition. MIPC awards a total of $50,000 (Canadian) in cash prizes to winning teams in the contest, which annually draws around 100 teams from universities on six continents.

This year MIPC participants are tackling a case study focused on finding ways for institutional investors to help move society toward a more sustainable future and the goal of net-zero carbon emissions. Each team takes on the role of consultants to a fictional investment fund in Australia with two tasks: to design a transparent, attainable, and well-defined net-zero pledge that will satisfy the fund’s stakeholders and to develop a comprehensive decarbonization strategy for the fund so it can reach its net-zero goal.

Three of the four students on the Illinois Tech team—Martin Armas Chavez, Soe Moe Hein, and Fenglin Wang—are enrolled in the Master of Science in Finance program at Stuart School of Business, and Benjamin Barber is in the College of Computing’s Master of Mathematical Finance program. Senior Lecturer of Finance Michael Rybak at Stuart serves as the team’s faculty adviser.

Teams reached the semifinals on the strength of their written proposals. In the virtual semifinals on November 3, the teams will engage directly with MIPC judges—experienced professionals and experts in the institutional investing space—by giving a presentation on their proposals and responding to questions. The top five semifinalists will be chosen to compete in the finals on November 4, which will be livestreamed to a global audience.

Along with the competition, MIPC sponsors a speaker series, recruitment activities, and networking opportunities to connect participating students with leaders in institutional finance.

Since the MIPC began in 2017, Illinois Tech teams have made their mark by reaching the semifinals every year. In addition, the 2017 and 2019 teams earned places in the finals and the 2021 team brought home awards for Exceptional Quantitative Analysis and Best Speaker.

Photo: [From left] Benjamin Barber, Martin Armas Chavez, Fenglin Wang, and Soe Moe Hein