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Canterbury students rally on COVID-19 market volatility in CMC Markets University Trading Challenge

16 September 2020

The CMC Markets University of Canterbury Trading Challenge has come to a close with third-year Finance, Strategy & Entrepreneurship student, Connor Rogers, winning the top prize with a 152.48 percent return on investment (ROI).


The CMC Markets University of Canterbury Trading Challenge has come to a close with third-year Finance, Strategy & Entrepreneurship student, Connor Rogers, winning the top prize with a 152.48 percent return on investment (ROI).

Hosted in association with the UC Investment Society and UC Business School, the annual competition gives students the opportunity to put their investment strategies to practice with a range of financial derivative instruments, including cryptocurrencies, gold and silver commodities, forex and shares via the CMC Markets online trading platform.

This year’s competition attracted over 120 teams, comprising of individuals or pairs. Using a virtual fund of NZ$100,000 to trade over four weeks, students experienced the real-world volatility influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the global financial markets.

A returning participant from last year, Rogers primarily traded gold and silver commodities to secure him the top spot with a final account balance of over $252,000.

“The competition was really engaging and interesting during these periods of heightened volatility. My initial game plan was to take calculated high-risk swing trades, maximising the leverage in order to gain a significant wealth base of around 80% ROI. After this, I took a more technical approach by making multiple trades that locked in smaller profits.

“My focus is usually on US equities, so it was great to get out of my comfort zone and try trading commodities. I learnt a lot about controlling your emotions when in a trade - it’s easy to allow emotions to interfere and divert you from your initial game plan. The disconnect from any negative implications with virtual money allowed me to take on a lot more risk and enter more trades. Seeing the success of my trades during the competition has given me greater confidence in my own ability and taught me to trust my instincts,” adds Rogers.

Another 2019 participant, Economics and Information Systems third-year student, Ryan Jans, achieved an 83.52 percent ROI which secured him as runner-up.

“This year was quite tricky as it was difficult to know what could perform well during a worldwide pandemic. My game plan at the start was to speculate prices of precious metals - this however moved on to index funds as the precious metal market was much too volatile for my liking. Through this challenge, I learnt that index funds are a great place to invest, however dropping all available cash on one is a horrible idea - fundamental points such as diversification are fundamental for a reason,” says Jans.

In third place was first-year duo, Financial Engineering and Economics student Jaden Fearon, and Engineering student Harry Bird, who earned a 71.93 percent ROI, using the platform as an opportunity to extend their own investments.

​​​“We invested in several US and NZ companies that we already hold part shares in such as Tesla. An eye-opening part of the experience was the vast range of products that can be traded, from commodities to forex to crypto - we very much enjoyed exploring and researching the different attributes of each market. Overall, it was a great experience and we will definitely be taking part again next year,” says Bird.

Chris Smith, General Manager at CMC Markets New Zealand, says, “With financial markets volatile and the increase of retail traders during the Covid-19 environment, we’ve seen a surge in Kiwis wanting to invest and learn about the markets. The rise of fintech share investing apps has also raised awareness and understanding of the markets. We’re pleased to be able to give our next generation of investors and traders the opportunity to experiment and learn in a risk-free environment and gain further understanding of the global markets, from FX to shares to commodities.” 

Guy Robson, Head of Trading at the UC Investment Society, says, “The UC Trading Challenge continues to provide students with opportunities to gain key transferable skills that will assist them to not only become work-ready graduates in the industry but also gain the necessary skills to succeed in their future careers."

Dr Mortiz Wagner, University of Canterbury Finance Lecturer, says, “The competition enables students to participate in higher-order active learning by applying course materials in a real-world environment, and to develop further analytical and problem-solving skills that extend beyond what we can do in a classroom. It’s great to see so many students get involved and stay engaged throughout the competition.”


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