Every year, hundreds of students from around the globe participate in the McGill International Portfolio Challenge, hoping to impress the judges with innovative portfolio strategies and gain access to unique mentorship opportunities. “MIPC Perspectives” is a new project designed to recognize the hard work of uniquely skilled individuals who have previously participated in the challenge. In the MIPC’s 5th edition, Team “Between The Spreadsheets” from Universität Innsbruck in Austria took home the “most innovative team” prize. Our media team sat down with all four award recipients to reflect on their MIPC journey.
For Context: The MIPC’s Fifth Edition – Ultra-Low Yields
The fifth edition of the MIPC revolved around the ultra-low yield and high equity valuation environment that the world economy found itself in amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants were tasked with designing sustainable investment strategies that delivered adequate returns without taking on excessive risk.
Team “Between The Spreadsheets” – Background
Philipp Haas – Currently wrapping up his Master’s in Banking & Finance at Universität Innsbruck, Philipp will soon be moving to Liechtenstein to work for a bank.
David Stelzhammer – David is nearing the completion of his Master’s degree in Banking & Finance at Universität Innsbruck. In the past, David has worked in risk management at various banks in Austria.
Christoph Schenkenfelder – Just like his fellow teammates, Christoph completed both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Universität Innsbruck. Christoph is also pursuing a Master’s in Accounting, Auditing, and Taxation. Finally, Christoph is currently teaching the introductory finance class at Universität Innsbruck, all whilst working at a large Swiss company.
Andreas Suire – Having also completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s in Banking & Finance at Universität Innsbruck, Andreas has spent over a year working as a credit analyst for a large Austrian bank.
The team decided to participate in the MIPC after hearing about the competition from their professor. Having done case competitions in the past, team “Between The Spreadsheets” was keen on demonstrating their capabilities once again. To be best prepared beforehand, they looked at previous editions of the challenge on the “Past Challenges” tab of the MIPC’s website and studied successful submissions.
Their MIPC Journey
The team found the challenge to be tougher than other competitions, as the MIPC required them to consider many different aspects of the problem. However, they remained dedicated to solving the case in the best way possible, which led to “many, many hours” of research and work. David saw the MIPC as an opportunity to not only learn about the complex societal issue at hand, but also as a chance to have fun and to apply their knowledge in a real-world setting. Christoph described it as a “rollercoaster with many ups and downs”, as the challenge forced them to explore several ideas and assess their feasibility. Andreas appreciated the intense collaboration with his teammates, which ultimately helped him in other team projects at work and at university.
Advice to future participants on how to differentiate their pitch and make it innovative
Philipp admitted that the team explored several paths to solving the case before ultimately choosing the most appropriate strategy. He described it as an iterative process and urged participants to not be afraid to “go back to the drawing board” however many times is necessary. David suggested that participants discuss their work with people from diverse professional backgrounds to gauge their perspectives. He also directed participants to check out previous submissions and presentations, available on the MIPC’s website in the ”Past Challenges” tab. Christoph stressed how crucial it is to think outside the box, and not to discard ideas that may seem bold ambitious, or “crazy”. Andreas advised all participants to brainstorm their ideas with their teammates, write down all ideas, and not to get too narrow-minded when thinking of potential ideas.
Lessons gained through the challenge
The team appreciated the broadness of the challenge, which meant that they needed to find a balance between going into details and remaining focused on the big picture. Philipp found that the challenge improved his ability to introduce compelling arguments and present them to an expert jury. David loved the international aspect of the challenge, which allowed him and his team to compete with some of the brightest minds across the globe. Christoph learned not to “get lost in the details” and to remain focused on the overarching objective, which can sometimes be challenging especially when participants are given one month to perfect their pitches. Finally, Andreas found that the work he did at the MIPC is similar to his current job, in the sense that the goal is to satisfy all stakeholders while achieving solid returns on their investments. Thus, the challenge is a great experience for university students to experience what is actually done in practice.