A team of Isenberg students has placed first in the Ethics category in Canada’s most prestigious business case contest—the Inter-Collegiate Business Competition. The Isenberg duo of Andrew Hurley ’15 and Tyler Virtue ’15—both seniors majoring in accounting—received top honors from a panel of industry judges in a field that included six teams from top colleges and universities in Canada and the United States. In addition to ethics, the annual competition, on January 15-17th at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, featured competitive categories devoted to Accounting, Debating, Finance, Marketing, Business Policy, Human Resources, and Management Information Systems.
The Isenberg team’s case involved a trust company’s failure to report client transactions yielding suspicious returns suggestive of tax evasion. The trust’s compliance officer and its director had looked the other way, refusing to volunteer any unnecessary information. But a knowledgeable employee had sought to persuade the manager of the company’s securities department to do otherwise. Should they take the risk of reporting the issue anonymously to the Canada Revenue Agency? “The CRA had forensic accountants and we had a compliance officer, so why should it be my responsibility?” asked the securities department manager.
The Isenberg students emphasized that looking the other way was intrinsically unethical and, just as important, might contribute to a broader culture of noncompliance and fraud in the financial system. Those failings, they noted, helped fuel the U.S. financial crisis of 2008. “Andrew and Tyler showed terrific listening skills in responding to the judges’ questions,” recalls Jennifer Merton, an Isenberg lecturer in business law who was faculty advisor to the team. “They seamlessly reinforced and complemented one another’s arguments.”
Two other Isenberg students, Matt Minafo and Laurie Kamenetsky, accompanied the team as observers at the competition. Back at Isenberg they were among four finalist teams in a preliminary “internal” round that ultimately yielded the Isenberg winners.