BYU Team Wins Duff & Phelps National Valuation Competition

A team of Brigham Young University undergraduate students came home with the first-place title from the inaugural Duff & Phelps National Case Study Competition in New York. This new competition focused on the complex finance skills used in business valuations.

"The Marriott School of Management at BYU is deeply honored by this award and recognition of our students," says Gary Cornia, Marriott School dean. "Duff & Phelps is a corporation with a distinguished name in finance and financial issues, and to be honored in this way is very rewarding."

Forty-six teams first submitted written case-studies to enter the competition. BYU and two other teams were chosen as finalists to receive an all-expense paid trip to compete for the title at Duff & Phelps' New York headquarters. The event culminated in a final round of oral presentations to a panel of judges comprised of nationally recognized valuation experts, academics and Duff & Phelps professionals. 

The BYU team consisted of three juniors: Doug Rowe, an accounting student from Camarillo, Calif.; Leonce Arceneaux, an accounting student from Hemet, Calif.; and Marc Dedrick, a finance student from Yorba Linda, Calif. Marriott School Professor Hal Heaton advised the team.

"The biggest lesson I learned through this competition was to keep things simple, concise and to the point," Dedrick says. "It is so tempting to get lost in the details, but I learned that success is in remembering the big picture and staying focused on achieving the end goal."

The BYU team won the top prize of $15,000 in scholarship funds. The University of Southern California accepted a second place scholarship award of $7,500 and George Mason University was awarded a third place scholarship of $3,000.   

"During the final round of the National Case Study Competition, these students demonstrated the technical skill and professional standards necessary to meet the challenges ahead," says Noah Gottdiener, chief executive officer, president and chairman of Duff & Phelps. "With the support of their schools and the business community, this next generation of financial professionals will be ready to serve the needs of tomorrow's business leaders, investors, consumers and regulators."

In this first year of competition students were able to practice their valuation skills on a case that involved preparing a fairness opinion for a master limited partnership that was evaluating whether or not to enter into an agreement with a pipeline company.  

"This was a great opportunity for our undergraduate students because valuation skills are used all the time," says Heaton. "The new accounting rules force accountants and finance people to do valuations for a large variety of purposes. Overall, the number of valuations that need to be done have exploded in the last few years."

Dedrick says Heaton's help was invaluable. He helped the team recognize what points to emphasize in order to enhance the team's presentation.

 "I think we benefited greatly from this competition by getting a taste of what sort of problems are faced in the real world." Dedrick says. "This case study competition was a great opportunity for us to get some applicable experience that I think recruiters will really value."

The Marriott School is located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. The school has nationally recognized programs in accounting, business management, public management, information systems, and entrepreneurship. The school's mission is to prepare men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Approximately 3,000 students are enrolled in the Marriott School's graduate and undergraduate programs.

Media Contact: Joseph Ogden (801) 422-8938
Writer: Bethany Morgan