North Texas Daily

Business team comes together, wins competition

Business team comes together, wins competition

December 01
23:55 2014

John Hoang / Intern Writer

Staring at the shifting digital numbers on the screen, finance sophomore Mason Hendrickson and his team analyze stocks for possible decisions to make with their limited funds. In order to make a profit in a volatile environment, the team had to take risks to achieve its goal.

Hendrickson, along with fellow team members and finance sophomores Bao Lam and Josue Leija, won first place in the thinkorswim Challenge, a nationwide competition sponsored by TD Ameritrade Inc.

The competition took place Oct. 12-Nov. 8 and involved 245 teams across the nation. With $500,000 in virtual money to spend, participants worked to obtain the highest percentage gain in aggregate value by the end of each week.

“The hardest part was the learning curve,” Hendrickson said. “When we started out, we didn’t know many things [about business].”

The team members were originally part of the Student Investment Group, an organization at UNT made to benefit students by giving them education within investment. When the team members enrolled in their first major classes, they lacked experience compared to many of the other teams. As the competition went on, the senior members from the Student Investment Group gave support and taught them new strategies and programs.

“The relationships we cultivated here are by far the most memorable,” Hendrickson said.

A TD Ameritrade representative approached the students while they were in their Student Investment Group and encouraged them to enter the competition. Seeing the challenge as a learning opportunity, the men decided to go for it and formed the GoMeanGreen team.

The team used quantitative strategies and mathematical equations to predict where stocks were going to go. The also had to analyze the exchange traded funds, which are investment stocks holding assets and trades close to the net value within the course of the trading day.

Finding the right time to get together to collaborate their ideas proved a challenge to the team. As each member had different schedules, learning to find time became their first obstacle.

“The hardest part was managing time between competition itself and schoolwork,” Lam said. “It demanded a lot of time, as it was real market, and the time was limited. It was like having a full-time job or something.”

Adapting to stress and decision-making also became valuable skills throughout the month.

“It was a growing experience. You grow and try to cooperate with each other,” Hendrickson said. “We got to see how difficult it is to deal with multiple things.”

Eventually, they learned each other’s working procedures and personalities. The bonds they made while working together helped create cohesion and efficiency toward winning the competition.

“One of our strengths was to have an education from UNT and resources to use from here,” Lam said.

The men said a strong leader was also a key factor in their success.

“The solid guidance of our team captain Mason Hendrickson was our strongest link,” Leija said.

Each team member received $3,500 in prize money, with another $30,000 awarded to UNT. Hendrickson, Leija and Lam plan to use their prize money to invest and expand their individual financial holdings.

“I was proud we could make UNT nationally recognized and show what kind of products our education system could put out,” Hendrickson said.

Upon graduation, Hendrickson hopes to become a corporate financial advisor while Lam aspires to become an investment banker. Leija wants to work as a personal financial advisor, helping everyday people with managing budgets and retirement funds.

Each member hopes to use his experiences in the thinkorswim Challenge to further advance a career after college.

“The involvement with everything between this organization has been great, from just bringing us knowledge to helping us compete,” Hendrickson said.

The men said they feel optimistic after their victory and plan to participate in another competition in the spring.

“We learned to have perseverance, to always follow through with your decisions, even when all odds look to be against you,” Hendrickson said. “We went into the last week looking up at a huge wall of competition. We cultivated our knowledge to persevere and take first.”

College of Business Dean Finley Graves sees the winners of the Ameritrade competition as an inspiration to the school who represent the potential of UNT students.

“UNT winning the competition demonstrates the energy, drive and creativity of UNT business students,” Graves said. “I am tremendously proud of the three winners as they were confident and poised and they handled themselves beautifully under pressure.”

Hendrickson said he feels pride in the results of the competition and hopes to continue the trend of excellence.

“This is proof that the education we are learning here is top-tier level,” Hendrickson said.” We are proud of the overall pride we brought to the university and ourselves.”

Featured Image: Featured Image: University of North Texas College of Business students Josue Leija (cq), left, Mason Hendrickson and Bao Lam. Together the three won a nationwide virtual stock trading competition sponsored by TD Ameritrade Inc., a broker-dealer subsidiary of TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation. Photo courtesy of UNT News

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