Student teams from Hope College finished first and firth in the 2021 Commercial Lending Competition sponsored by the West Michigan Chapter of the Risk Management Association (RMA).

The competition requires hours of preparation and challenges students to analyze a lending case, culminating in a presentation to a panel of judges who are all professionals in the field.  A total of eight teams from five colleges and universities participated in this year’s event, held on Saturday, Oct. 30.  Hope was the only school to place both of its teams in the top five.

The students on the first-place team, all seniors majoring in business, were Michael Boynton of Glen Ellyn, Illinois; Jonas Rees of Holland; and Andrew Veldman of Grand Rapids.  The team won a cash prize of $3,000.

Placing fifth were seniors Matt Miller, a business major from Washington, Michigan; Carter Mullins, a biology and economics major from Ada; and Susan Par, a business major from Battle Creek.  The team won a cash prize of $500.

The two top-five finishes continue a tradition of strong finishes for students from the department in intercollegiate competitions, including a second-place finish in the RMA contest in 2019.  This past spring, a team of students finished in the top-12 tier of finalists, out of 35 undergraduate teams from 16 colleges and universities, in the ACG Cup competition sponsored by the West Michigan Association for Corporate Growth, which focuses on mergers and acquisitions, valuation, finance and strategy.  Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the spring 2021 event utilized a virtual format, expanding participants to include institutions such as the University of Texas at Austin, Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Michigan, some even ranked as top-10 finance programs by U.S. News.  Hope students won the ACG event in 2017.

The students were guided by faculty member Doug Iverson, an assistant professor of economics and Ruch Executive-in-Residence at Hope.  Iverson, who has dedicated more than seven years to developing and coaching finance teams for case competitions within the Department of Economics and Business, came to Hope in 2012 after four decades in leadership positions in the banking industry.  He believes that the students are served well by the liberal arts education that Hope provides, in combination with the department’s depth of coursework and emphasis on providing opportunities to apply what they are learning, and the college’s personal approach.

“The economics and business program at Hope strikes an unusual balance between liberal arts and the external engagement/competitive preparation one might typically find at a larger business school,” Iverson said.

“The students develop skills that only the liberal arts can bring out,” he said, adding, “Finance and accounting students at Hope are provided an appropriate — but not overbuilt — set of core courses, giving more time to explore vocation in a hands-on way. Nearly 350 professionals engage with students in the department each year, allowing for a robust co-curricular offering that focuses on frequent exposure to the professional world, consequential experiences such as the Commercial Lending Competition and ACG Cup, and professional-level workshops that sharpen skills.”

“What’s more, students are given the opportunity to engage in a personal and vibrant community that’s unique to Hope — making meaningful connections to faculty, alumni and peers along the way,” Iverson said.