Commencement 2019: URI senior caps successful finance major by passing prestigious CFA exam

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Austin Vutech
Austin Vutech. URI photo by Nora Lewis

KINGSTON, R.I. — April 30, 2019 — For as long as he can remember, University of Rhode Island senior finance major Austin Vutech has been fascinated with the dynamic nature of the stock market and business as a whole.

He sealed his commitment to the field of finance when he sat for the Chartered Financial Analyst Level I exam in December among a room full of 20-somethings, many of whom already had at least two years of professional experience. Vutech passed on the first try, while taking a full course load — a feat his professors describe as nearly impossible. The CFA exam is considered the gold standard in finance, and certification is essential to be a viable competitor in the field.

“The CFA Level I exam was undoubtedly the hardest exam I had ever taken,” explained Vutech, a native of East Greenwich. “I think of it as every College of Business exam put together and 10 times harder. I was sitting in the Ram Fund trading room at 7:30 in the morning when I found out I passed. In that moment, everything came full circle. It was in this room that I decided I was going to take the exam in the first place. Celebrating among my peers who helped me along the way is one of my favorite memories during my time here.”

The Ram Fund is an investment portfolio managed by College of Business students and overseen by Michael Ice and Deborah Imondi, both instructors in the College of Business. The fund is valued at $420,000. Through the Ram Fund, Vutech was able to travel to Dallas for a Money Management Institution conference, and was one of the only college students in attendance. Meeting professionals and industry leaders made for a memorable experience.

“Len Reinhart is a URI alumnus and industry leader and interacting with him and other MMI professionals at the conference was extremely inspirational,” said Vutech. “This conference was one of the most rewarding experiences of my undergraduate career.”

Vutech transferred to URI for his junior year — a move he considers his greatest decision. In his final two years of college, he’s packed in four years of learning and experiences. Vutech has served as president of URI’s American Marketing Association; president of Beta Alpha Psi, the international honor society for financial information students; administrative secretary of the Student Entertainment Committee, and holds a job at Frazier Investment Management in South Kingstown. How does he do it all?

“I rely on my Google Calendar and my great support system made up of my family, friends and the faculty at URI who all want to see me succeed,” said Vutech.

“I love this school because the faculty cares so strongly for the students, and for that I am so thankful,” said Vutech. “Professor Ice has been instrumental to my success as an undergraduate, and Assistant Dean Peggy Boyd has been so accommodating and helpful from an extracurricular and student perspective. Professor John Dunn always urges students to think outside of the box and constantly pushed me to succeed. I am so thankful for Dr. David Mitchell, Dr. Gordon Dash and the many other amazing professors in the College of Business who have contributed to the success I found here.

“My greatest advice to any student is be willing to work,” Vutech added. “You can come to college and go through the motions, many people do. But if you want to compete against students from other schools, you need to put in the work. If you don’t, someone else will, so it comes down to work ethic. Take advantage of every opportunity, attend workshops, engage in competitions and make use of the resources that are available to you as an undergraduate.”

As a student, Vutech was the recipient of a number of privately funded URI Foundation scholarships including the Kilguss Family Fund and the Romeo and Rose Picerne Scholarship in Business, both awarded on the basis of academic merit.  After a very successful two years at URI, Vutech has accepted a job offer from PricewaterhouseCoopers, a multinational professional services network, in its Advisory Management Consulting division with the commodities trading team in Houston, Texas.

Olivia Ross, an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at URI and public relations major, wrote this press release.