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Buffalo State Experts: CFA Advises First-Place Student Investment Team

Buffalo State Experts: CFA Advises First-Place Student Investment Team

Posted: April 16, 2018

Gene Chaas, lecturer in economics and finance, has worked with Buffalo State students competing to win the Adirondack Cup for several years. This year, for the first time, the team came in at first place—with an impressive return of 31.75 percent on a hypothetical $1 million portfolio.

“I’m really proud of our team,” said Chaas, who is a chartered financial analyst and principal of Delaware Avenue Advisors. “But as happy as I am about our first-place finish, it’s secondary to what I see as the real success. What really matters is exposing our students to the world of investment in a way that allows them to apply what they’ve learned in their courses.” Chaas has found that many students are unsure of themselves, and he strives to encourage them to develop a sense of confidence.

Chaas, who holds a master’s degree in international political economy from Syracuse University, started his investment career with a major brokerage firm. Before long, however, he found himself more interested in selling his knowledge and advice than in selling stocks.

“I’m a born fiduciary,” he said. “A fiduciary, in the financial world, is essentially someone who always acts in the client’s best interests rather than his or her own.” He undertook and completed the chartered financial analyst (CFA) program. According to the CFA Institute, only 20 percent of those who begin the program complete it.

Ted Byrley, associate professor of economics and finance, said, “The CFA designation is the highest level of achievement in the investment management industry.”

“You have to love the program to complete it,” said Chaas. “It takes 150 to 250 hours of study to pass the exam for each of three levels, which is a big commitment—especially if you’re working full-time. The program includes advanced quantitative techniques, macro- and microeconomics, and statistics in addition to portfolio management.” The CFA Institute emphasizes ethical principles and practices, a position that aligns with Chaas’s personal beliefs.

Byrley taught a review class for students taking the CFA Level 2 exam with Fred Floss, professor of economics and finance. “That’s how I connected with Buffalo State,” said Chaas.

He deepened that connection by introducing Buffalo State students to a competition sponsored by the Adirondack Funds, with whom Chaas does business. The members of this year’s first-place team are students Grace Bolton, Nathan Clark, Paul Dixon, Andre Lott, and Jacob Walsh. Teams from 24 colleges including RIT, Clarkson University, and several SUNY schools took part in the contest to achieve the best return on a $1 million portfolio made up of small-cap stocks. “The most important thing we want our students to learn,” said Chaas, “is that you don’t have to be wealthy to invest in stocks. It’s not just a rich person’s game.” 

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