Chicago Quantitative Alliance

CQA Challenge

Investment Challenge

What is the Chicago Quantitative Alliance (CQA)?
The CQA is a professional investment organization comprised of leading quantitative investment practitioners.  The CQA membership includes investment managers, academics, plan sponsors, consultants, and other investment professionals.  The primary goal of the CQA is to facilitate the interchange of ideas between quantitative professionals. 
What is the CQA Investment Challenge?
The CQA Investment Challenge is an equity portfolio management competition that offers students the opportunity to learn and apply stock selection and portfolio management skills in a simulated, real life hedge fund experience.  
The Challenge provides teams with first-hand experience of being a portfolio manager by managing money, explaining their investment process and discussing performance. Teams will handle all aspects of portfolio management including stock selection, portfolio construction, and risk management.  In addition, teams are required to complete a video presentation that provides a review of their investment team, investment philosophy/process as well as an update on performance. Throughout the competition teams will work with an assigned CQA member who will serve as a mentor and guide.  The Challenge is an invaluable real-life view into managing money in the investment management industry.
The Challenge, started in 2004, has had seven very successful years with 35 top universities from around the world.  All the teams have found this unique opportunity to manage a market neutral portfolio, interact with quantitative practitioners and compete against other schools to be fun and rewarding. 
To quote the head of finance at a major business school, “Our Investment Club is doing a fantastic job at formulating stock pitches and writing analyst-type reports for Seeking Alpha. The CQA challenge would be a great way to complement their skill set and learn how to succeed in the quant space. Right now, this is the only such opportunity available to students anywhere in the country.  And, it is a great honor to be invited.”
To learn more about this contest and read what past participants have thought of the contest, please visit
How does the Challenge work?
The objective of the competition is to successfully manage an equity long/short market neutral portfolio over the course of the academic year.  Key aspects of the competition include:
 The contest runs from the end of October through the end of March
 Three teams university.  A team can consist of undergraduate junior/senior and/or MBA students. Typically between 3 to 5 members per team.
 The contest will utilize the Stock-Trak investment simulation platform
 The winning team will be determined by the combination of their returns, compliance to the diversification rules, and evaluation with an emphasis on the risk adjusted returns. Click here to see past presentations. 
 Prizes will include $6,000 in prize money distributed across the top three teams ( $3000, $2000, $1000 )
Why participate?
For Students:
 Fun competition with a chance to enhance their resume.
 Gain access to and insights from  successful quantitative investment practitioners
 Understand the many facets of portfolio management
 Gain experience managing a hedge fund mandate
 Gain exposure to successful quantitative investment firms and practitioners 
 Provide students with the opportunity to apply classroom theories in a simulated “real world” setting
 howcase your students and university.
 Chance to attend a premier quantitative investment conference and interact with leading investment professionals

Participant Feedback and Reviews


“The competition was demanding and competitive, but above all it created a great learning experience, in which we are proud to have represented USC.” – Dikshant Tahilramani ’14 USC

“We find that in the investment management industry, market place experience is often a barrier to entry.  The CQA Investment Challenge provides exposure to buyside practitioners and a simulation that replicates real world challenges facing money managers, both of which have uniquely positioned our students in their career search.” – Ben Thomason, Sector Director for Finance at The Fuqua School of Business, Duke University


“The CQA Investment Challenge is a great way to bring together practitioners (existing CQA members), professors and students in the investment field.  While academic studies of financial literature are crucial, students interested in investment management do not typically have the opportunity to get real-world experience managing portfolios.  The CQA Investment Challenge gives these students a hands-on opportunity to manage an equity-market neutral strategy real-time as they work on finding investment anomalies, building investment models, constructing portfolios, risk management and client reporting.”


“It’s a lot of fun watching students figure out how to build stock valuation models and construct portfolios using state of the art valuation tools and risk management techniques made available to the schools participating.”  – Geoffrey Gerber, Ph.D., President, TWIN Capital Management Inc.

For more information, please contact CQA Member:

Kai Patainen

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Chicago Quantitative Alliance