Students Win Top Investment Award

PROVO, Utah – Jan 25, 2018 – From October to December, the schedules of four Brigham Young University students looked something like this: Wake up, work out, get ready, go to class, eat lunch, go to work, do homework, go on a date, call Mom, manage a $1 million virtual stock portfolio.

The students’ dedication and financial knowledge ultimately paid off when the team won first place at the recent Peeptrade University Challenge for their earnings and creative methodology.

Before competing as finalists in Chicago, the team researched investment opportunities by talking to investors in order to develop an investment policy statement that followed the constraints outlined in the competition guidelines. Team members then met daily for two months to trade stocks and evaluate their performance based on the competition’s rankings put out by Peeptrade, a social media platform for investors. 

“We’re incredibly proud of our students,” says Colby Wright, associate professor of finance. “One of the keys to their success was the sophistication of their methodology and analysis and their ability to articulate it.”

The team’s strategy expanded beyond traditional financial methods. Tyler Morrey, a finance senior from Kennewick, Washington, developed an algorithm that predicted changes in the market. This use of artificial intelligence helped the team make informed trading decisions.

“We could have put in an hour a week and still had a great experience, but putting in extra time definitely contributed to our success,” Morrey says. “And we loved every second of it.”

Through their trading techniques, team members saw a return of 15 percent in the two-month period. Their financial performance earned them an all-expense paid trip to the University of Chicago as one of eleven finalists out of fifty-three student teams.

At the final event, the team presented its investment plan and results to a panel of finance experts. The judges appreciated the team’s use of nontraditional methods and awarded the group the highest score in the undergraduate competition. The honor included prize money of $3,000 and a championship trophy. 

The competition also provided team members opportunities to network with finance professionals and interact with students from other universities such as London Business School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

“Being in Chicago was a phenomenal experience, and I was so excited when we got first place because it brought honor to BYU and to my teammates,” says Joseph Zhang, a finance sophomore from New York City. “My team was great, and they did so much work that deserves recognition.”

The team included Morrey and Zhang, as well as Chandler Nelson, an economics senior from Los Altos, California, and Michael Willden, an accounting senior from Gilbert, Arizona. Team members have already seen the experience help them in job interviews and personal investment decisions, according to Willden.

“When I mention the competition and my plans to start my own hedge fund, it’s immediately what interviewers want to know about,” Willden says. “I would highly recommend any student who is interested in learning trading to participate in this competition.”

Student winners
Left to right: Michael Willden, Joseph Zhang, Chandler Nelson, Ali Bakir (cofounder of Peeptrade), and Tyler Morrey.

Media Contact: Jordan Christiansen 801-422-8938
Writer: Maggie Kuta