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Students benefit from essay competition
Author: Pia Nänny
Published: 06/10/2016

As part of a larger collaboration between Stellenbosch University and the global asset management firm Schroders, 10 students in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences walked away with R20 000 each after participating in an essay competition.

This essay competition forms part of a joint investment research initiative that stems from an agreement signed between the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Sciences at SU and Schroders' Multi-asset Investments and Portfolio Solutions (MAPS) division in November 2015.

The agreement also comprises postgraduate bursaries and an annual high-profile investment seminar.

The objective of the joint investment research initiative is to bring together industry and academic experts to collaborate on research that both expands academic and industry knowledge on investment topics, and enhances the quality of investment outcomes delivered to end investors.

The competition was open to postgraduate students from the Departments of Statistics and Actuarial Science, Business Management and Economics on topics proposed by MAPS and Schroders' strategic partner Lombard Insurance. Each topic was assigned to a mentor by Schroders, who were available via Skype to give advice and practical insight.

Ashley Lester, Global Head of Multi Asset and Portfolio Solutions Research at Schroders, reviewed all the essays.

"I am particularly happy to note the high quality of many of the entries to this year's competition. Selecting the 10 winners was not an easy task, and I fully anticipate that it will become even more difficult in future years, as students become better acquainted with the essay competition," he said.

Doug Abbott, Schroders' Head of Business Development in South Africa, assured the students that the mentors assigned to each topic were high-profile members of the companies they work for.

"Schroders as a company is very interested in education and wants to development talent in South Africa," he added.

Carel van der Merwe of the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science, who managed and organised the competition with Schroders, believes the essay competition is a great opportunity for students to research subjects relevant to industry and to connect and network with senior staff members at respected and well-known companies.

Prof Stan du Plessis, Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences quoted Adam Smith who argued that individually we know very little, but collectively we know an enormous amount.

"It is the process of competition that moves the information you hold locally into the collective space. That's what markets do and that's what a competition like this one does as well. It gives us the opportunity to step outside our individual space and interact with colleagues at Schroders. It also gives them the opportunity to see what we're doing at SU."

The winners were Coetzee Janse van Rensburg, Peter-John Clift, Peru Govindasamy, Rina de Villiers, Jannes Germishuys, Anri Kotzé, Gcinile Dlamini, Nadia Burger, Rebecca Selkirk and Johann Pfitzinger. 

Pfitzinger, who achieved the highest mark, enjoyed working on the topic he chose (The effects of unconventional monetary policies).

"It is particularly rewarding when the work receives such generous recognition," he added.

"The topics and discussions with the Schroders team provided a useful insight into which issues and questions are currently important beyond – though certainly not irrelevant to – our South African setting and the competition allowed us to apply our minds to these issues within a productive setting. I also enjoyed the cross-departmental scope of the competition – there were many interesting conversations with students from other departments.

"The competition provided an opportunity to develop an active interest that can go well beyond the competition – I have hence done a fair share of additional work on the same topic."

Photo credit: Hennie Rudman, SCPS