Save 10% on Schweser’s Premium Study Packages. Put the most trusted name in CFA® exam prep on your team with promo code ResultsNowShop for your study package today » 

What Is the CFA® Institute Research Challenge?

By: Kaplan Schweser
January 19, 2022
Everything You Need To Know About the CFA Institute Research Challenge

The CFA Institute Research Foundation Challenge is an equity research competition amongst thousands of undergraduate and graduate students from over 90 countries annually. Each year, teams from hundreds of universities prepare written reports about publicly traded companies with hopes to emerge as the global champion.


When is the CFA Institute Research Challenge?

The CFA Research Challenge usually begins in September and ends sometime in May, which means the team that wins the global final can spend up to 9 months involved in the research challenge. The research challenge can take this long for the winners because there are 4 stages (local, sub-regional, regional, global) of the challenge and over 5,000 competitors.

How does the CFA Institute Research Challenge Work?

The CFA Research Foundation Challenge works with Local CFA Societies, bringing together teams of three-to-five students from participating universities to defend their research and recommendations to a panel of industry experts.  

Initial competitions are hosted and judged by local CFA Institute society members and volunteers in an area near you.  Local winners advance to sub-regional competitions in areas such as Washington DC, Mexico, Toronto, Sydney, Beijing, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Greece, and South Africa by March.

Research Challenge teams that win in their sub-regional competition will advance to the regional semifinals, which are usually held in April. At this stage of the competition, each team is trying to become a representative of regions, such as Asia or Europe, and ultimately earn a spot in the Global Final.

The Global Final is usually held in New York during May. The winning team of the CFA Research Challenge will receive a scholarship for their university in the amount of US $10,000 and be declared the global champion. 

Why Students Should participate in the CFA Institute Research Challenge

There are many benefits for students who participate in the CFA Research Challenge including:

  • Access to financial industry experts
  • Demonstrate research analytical skills
  • Exposure to new financial networks
  • Enhance your CV/resume
  • Travel opportunities
  • A better understanding of what the CFA charter is

Help for CFA Research Challenge Students

Kaplan Schweser has free video resources for CFA Research Challenge students to help teams learn the foundational knowledge and skills needed to succeed.

Industry Mentors

Each CFA Research Challenge team can only have one industry mentor to help prepare them for the competition.  Industry mentors will be selected by the host of your local competition. If you have questions about how an industry mentor is assigned to your team for your CFA Research Challenge team, contact your local level host. The only purpose an industry mentor for the CFA Research Challenge can serve is to provide teams with guidance, direction, suggestions, or feedback on their written report or presentation. 

Research Help

Only CFA Research Challenge team members may perform research on the chosen subject company. The data sources used by teams must be publicly available information such as company financial statements and press releases. Consider using search modifiers on Google to find specific information about the company you are researching.

Writing Report Help

Only CFA Research Challenge team members can prepare a written research report on their chosen subject company. Teams can use their industry mentor or faculty advisor as a resource, but they can only provide guidance, direction, suggestions, or feedback on the written report. Before beginning to write, get to know the official competition requirements for your written CFA Research Challenge report

To see an example of what the CFA Research Challenge report should look like, view the winning 2021 CFA Research Challenge Report by the BI Norwegian Business School.

Presentation Help

CFA Research Challenge teams can use presentation coaches or other public-speaking resources to get guidance, direction, suggestions, or feedback, but they are not allowed to contribute to the content of the presentation. To avoid conflict, consider taking a free online presentation skills course as you prepare for your CFA Research Challenge presentation.

How to Get Your Ideas Accepted


View more videos about foundational Research Challenge topics

Past CFA Research Challenge Champions

The BI Norwegian Business School which represented the CFA Society of Denmark and Norway were the global final and EMEA regional champions in 2021.

Past CFA Research Challenge Regional Finals Champions

Americas Regional Final Champions

Asia Pacific Regional Final Champions

EMEA Regional Final Champions

Guidance for CFA Societies

CFA societies that host local-level CFA Research Challenge events provide a critically important role in the Research Challenge. 90% of students who compete at the local level never make it beyond this round. Students need a good understanding of how the CFA Institute supports financial professionals throughout their careers and what expectations will be held for them if they decide to pursue the CFA charter.

What CFA Institute Research Foundation Society Members and Volunteers do as Hosts

CFA society members and volunteers can serve as host coordinators, industry mentors, report graders, presentation judges or submit their company for consideration as a subject company by contacting a local CFA Institute member society

CFA Research Challenge volunteers acting as local hosts will be involved with:

  • Selecting and announcing the subject company
  • Introducing teams to their industry mentors
  • Ensuring CFA Research Challenge branding is consistent
  • Selecting a competition format
  • Creating an event timeline for the competition
  • Creating a budget for the competition
  • Invite Universities to take part in the Research Challenge
  • Recruit Volunteers
  • Provide Feedback to Research Teams

How Local Level Challenge Volunteers should prepare for Challenge day

Many tasks need to be worked through by CFA Research Challenge volunteers on Challenge day.  Fortunately, the CFA Institute has prepared a Research Challenge local level manual for volunteers to use. The Local Final is an exciting day for everyone involved, so remember to enjoy it. 

$500 Kaplan Schweser Contribution for Participating Societies

Kaplan Schweser offers support for CFA Research Challenge societies by offering sponsorships to local-level Research Challenge events.

Each local hosting society can receive a Kaplan Schweser USD 500 contribution by submitting information about themselves, their CFA society, and some general information about the Research Challenge event they are hosting at least 7 days before the start of the event.

Free eBook: Before You Decide to Sit for the CFA® Program Exam

Free eBook: CFA® Program Fundamentals, 2nd Edition

Ready to Pass the CFA® Exam?