Four students pose for a group photo.

Heavener students win Ethics Invitational

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – In November, a team of students from the University of Florida Warrington College of Business won the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Society’s Tampa Bay Ethics Invitational.

The Invitational, hosted virtually by CFA Societies in Florida, received 5-minute video submissions from university teams across the state. Finalists were announced from the initial round and competed in a live virtual event.

Designed to challenge students’ personal values and commitment to make ethical decisions, the Ethics Invitational posed a case study on “Sarah,” a fictional CFA charterholder and financial analyst who works at a prominent investment firm. The case revealed that the fictional firm’s recently instated Artificial Intelligence (AI) system was boosting productivity at the firm, but also making ethical infractions.

The team from UF – Sofia George (BSBA ’26), David Walston (BSBA ’25), Bryce Peters (BS ’25) and Drew Siegel (BSBA ’25) – were challenged to analyze the infractions, compare them to the CFA Institute’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct and propose Sarah’s next actions.

“Preparation was fundamental to our success in this case,” the team said. “We really wanted to insert ourselves into Sarah’s shoes and think about how we would want to use AI and how our excitement might cause us to accidentally produce unethical reports. It’s easy to take a moral high ground from a distance, but it’s a completely different story when you’re in the field and face ethical issues in real time.

“Our goal was to really illustrate and recreate this throughout our presentation.”

Some of the ethical red flags raised in the case included:

  •  AI-generated reports appeared to prioritize biased investment recommendations
  • The AI provided misleading information that impacted market pricing
  • AI changed expectations for productivity at the fictional firm, making employees overly dependent on it to reach their goals
  • Sarah’s compensation was tied to the performance of the investment products she recommended, despite the idiosyncrasies of the AI system

After identifying how these red flags breached the CFA’s ethical code, the team concluded that the firm should retract and correct any public disclosures affect by the AI’s inaccuracies.

“We believe that while AI represents a formidable asset for enhancing productivity, it necessitates the implementation of stringent safeguards that may mitigate its immediate transformative impact on the firm’s operations,” the team said. “While AI presents numerous opportunities for innovation, it’s imperative to navigate its use responsibly.”

From the competition, the team took away a deeper understanding of the practical application of AI in business and how to innovate while upholding ethical standards.

“It is an honor to have won this year’s [Invitational],” they said. “In the end, we are proud of our work and thank everyone for the opportunity to be a part of this incredible experience. Additionally, we would like to thank our director, mentor and friend, Dr. Brian Ray, for his support throughout this competition and our time at the University of Florida – we wouldn’t be here without him!”