JMU Banking Team focuses on community for a win

by Stephen Briggs

JMU Banking Team members and advisor Carl Larsson (2nd from r) with members of F&M Bank

Pictured: JMU Banking Team members and advisor Carl Larsson (2nd from right) with members of F&M Bank

For many of us, the last few months have been spent developing and focusing on our direct, local communities. For a team of four finance majors and one SMAD video production major, that closely aligned with a project they were already working on.

The JMU Banking Team recently took 2nd place in the nationwide 2020 Community Bank Case Study Competition, sponsored by the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS). This year the case study examined the impact of the Bank Secrecy Act and Anti-Money Laundering requirements on community banks.

The JMU team was assembled and advised by finance professor Carl Larsson. Over the course of the competition, the members were each assigned specific sections of a 25-page report and tasked with making a 10-minute video presentation. Due to the changes brought by COVID-19, the video portion was cancelled and dropped from the judging criteria.

Following three rounds of judging, the JMU team placed 2nd out of the 37 teams from 33 colleges and universities that participated. Along with the pride of winning came a $500 scholarship from CSBS to each student, and their work will be published in the Journal of Community Bank Case Studies.

An article in the Breeze in early May covered the team’s work with F&M Bank in Timberville during the competition. Here are some thoughts from each student now that they have earned a 2nd place win.

Daniel Hororwitz

“I was enrolled in Principles of Investments with Dr. Larsson last fall. A few weeks in he told the class he was the faculty adviser for the JMU Banking Team and encouraged everyone to submit an application. I didn't know much about commercial banking at the time, but I decided to apply because I could already tell he was an awesome teacher and leader. For the case study, I was in charge of the Financial Analysis section, which included topics on profitability, portfolio composition, asset growth and working capital management. The best part of the competition for me was connecting with my teammates each week. They were fantastic.”

Alexis Kakar

“My sections were Compliance and Policy Recommendation. By participating, I realized I have an interest in policy. Though I had taken business law classes throughout my time at JMU, I doubt I ever would have learned about The Bank Secrecy Act otherwise. I will begin my career at Visa as an account manager where my clientele will largely be smaller banks. Getting this firsthand experience partnering with a smaller bank like F&M Bank was not only fun and rewarding, but also very relevant to what I will be doing next.”

Henry Haas

“My main role throughout the project was the Technology and Innovation section. To complete it I interviewed members of the Bank Secrecy Act task force at Farmers and Merchants bank. I also conducted research on complaints that other community banks have with the current framework and software available. The best thing I learned was the value that comes from participating in an academic extracurricular activity. As a team member, I was able to build out-of-the-classroom connections with classmates and peers in addition to the strong relationship I have built with our faculty advisor, Dr. Larsson.”

Manushree Bhatt

“I chose to work on BSA Compliance. I also took up the responsibility to work on the Executive Summary of our paper. Being a part of this competition will open doors to a lot of job opportunities, since working on case studies is indeed a great learning experience for many students. Learning and analyzing the various banking techniques through in-person interviews with employees at F&M helped me become more confident and to think in terms of how a community bank operates on various projects.”

Homer Eliades

“My role on the team was to produce a video to compliment the written portion of our case study. Unfortunately, because of the virus, the video portion of the competition was cancelled during filming and it was dropped from the criteria. This experience taught me that even though everything may seem to be in-line and well prepared for, there will always be a curveball or something uncontrollable that comes up. Be able to adapt to these alterations to the plan.”

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Published: Thursday, July 2, 2020

Last Updated: Thursday, May 6, 2021

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