UH Students Dominate Outcry
Competitions in Houston and NYC
Continuing a tradition more than 10 years strong, students from the Finance Association at the University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business dominated the Houston round of the CME Group Commodity Trading Challenge.
Organized by the student organization and hosted April 9 in Melcher Hall, the open outcry competition required students to test their ability to buy and sell oil contracts using the traditional trading terminology and fast-paced hand signals.
Bauer students made up half of the top 10, with Francis Dorrego taking the first prize of $1,000, Laurentino Rangel and Kirsten Mayell taking fourth and fifth place, respectively, and Wallis Paez and Rong Yu rounding out the top 10.
“I had a great experience this year,” Dorrego said. “Students, like me, received non-academic real world education which will be beneficial throughout our future careers. I learned how to think fast and execute right decisions amidst the chaos.
“The competition highlights how the forces of supply and demand affect the market prices,” she added. “Overall, I feel honored to have been able to represent UH and Bauer in the competition and to have taken first place.”
Presented by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Group, the competition celebrated its 10th anniversary at UH Bauer last year. More than 20 universities and 120 students participated in this year’s competition.
The Finance Associate has been training students from the UH team since the start of the semester. This practice gave students an edge on the competition, said Phillip Bannon, director of research and trade for the Finance Association.
Bannon participated in last year’s outcry competition and placed in the top 10.
“The level of preparation varies from school to school, but UH students are generally the best prepared group,” he added. “The practices we held introduced the students to the chaos of the competition and taught them how to see through it. In addition, it allowed them to make mistakes and correct them in a practice environment rather than risk being eliminated when the competition time came.”
The competition tests students’ mental abilities to be a broker and thrive in a fast-paced and chaotic environment similar to the trading environments of New York and Chicago. The goal of the competition is not to make money, but to execute orders for simulated clients based on the type of order and the price given.
“The judges manipulate the market and cause the price to fluctuate by handing out different kinds of orders,” Bannon said. “It is the competitors’ job to monitor the price of the market at all times, keep track of their clients’ orders, and execute those orders when the price reaches certain levels. It is vital that competitors use the right hand signals and terminology to broadcast their orders to the rest of the market. The result of all of this is controlled chaos.”
The students are judged by experienced floor traders, current energy traders and analysts from the energy industry. The competition serves as both a challenge and a showcase of each student’s skills and talents to future employers.
“The competition provided exposure to students to several corporations prominent in the Houston area such as Shell, BP, Sequent Energy, Conoco Phillips, Pivitol and Amerex,” Dorrego said. “Students also got an opportunity to interact with experienced traders from CME Group and NYMEX.”
After the students’ impressive showing at the Houston competition, members of the Finance Association headed to New York City to participate in the NYMEX Outcry Competition on April 15 and have similar success.
“The New York competition had the same exact format as the Houston Open Outcry,” said Tony Nguyen, president of the Finance Association. “The only difference was the location: participants will be competing on the NYMEX floor at the same trading pits that exchange traders execute their trades at.”
Dorrego again showed her trading acumen, finishing third place in the NYMEX competition. Three other UH Bauer students made it to the top 10, including Mayell, who placed 5th, and Phillip Bannon and Rong Yu. Blythe Taylor Perez also made it to the final round of competition.
UH Bauer students took first and second place in 2009 and third and fourth place in 2010 at the New York round of competition.
“The University of Houston has always been a great performer at the New York Open Outcry,” Nguyen said. “With the enormous support from Bauer and the community this year, I had no doubt that UH would fare well at the New York Open Outcry Competition.”
By Ryan Tang