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Rhode Island College Adirondack Cup participants: (from top, left) Brandon Frankina, RIC Assistant Professor of Finance Kemal Saatcioglu, Jake Bonn; (from middle, left) Brandon Costa, Nathaniel Crowley, Katie Lavallee; (from bottom, left) Emi Escobar and Kenny Andrade Gomes

A team of School of Business finance majors displayed sharp investment skills, soaring to second place among 23 college teams vying for the Adirondack Cup, a stock-investment competition for finance savvy students.

Created eight years ago, the Adirondack Cup enables students to test their investment research skills tracking hypothetical investments. The competition requires teams from participating Northeast schools to create and manage a mock $1 million portfolio of five small cap stocks that the teams choose. Small cap stocks are defined as publicly traded companies which have a market capitalization ranging from $152 million to about $5 billion, such as Papa John's and Uber. Per the competition's rules, each stock selected had to come from a different sector, such as technology, health care or consumer goods. Once initial portfolios were established in October, teams were only allowed to alter their portfolios once during the six-month competition – in mid-January. 

In a testament to the team's acumen, particularly during one of the most volatile periods in the stock market's history, RIC was one of only three colleges to emerge with a positive return – 13.18 percent – on their stock portfolio during the cup. The other two were Wesleyan College, who won the contest, and the Saunders School of Business at Rochester Institute of Technology, who came in third place.

The seven members of the RIC team were all finance majors: Jake Bonn, Brandon Costa, Nathaniel Crawley, Emi Escobar, Brandon Frankina, Kenny Andrade Gomes and Katie Lavallee.

"The competition was a lot of fun and a great learning experience – it taught me a lot about small cap investing, leadership and teamwork," Lavalle said. "Aside from having such a talented team, I believe one of the greatest factors leading to our success was the bearish investment approach we took when selecting our sectors and stocks."

Frankina said he thinks that the investment competition will give him an edge as he pursues a career in financial planning. "I plan on managing money in the future and this experience helped me learn a good stock picking strategy," he said. "Considering the tough economic environment, our team performed well."

Jake Bonn, this year's team captain, said the team researched their initial investments, working hard to find stocks that they thought would perform above average. Bonn also credited advisor and RIC Assistant Professor of Finance Kemal Saatcioglu with the team's success.

"Professor Saatcioglu was very encouraging from the beginning, from explaining the contest to us, asking us to join and getting involved in all our meetings inside the  classroom and via the web," Bonn said.

Saatcioglu said he enjoyed advising the students and considers the competition a "perfect example of an experiential learning experience with students applying firsthand many of the concepts and skills they've acquired throughout their education at RIC."

"I tried to strike a balance between being available to help the students and letting them do their own thing," he said. "It was very satisfying to see the many aha moments the students went through during this process. I'm very impressed that once committed to the team, each member took their tasks very seriously, working hard to do their individual parts and help each other."