In late March the future stars of the econometrics world will descend on Amsterdam for The Econometric Game. The event has two partners: ORTEC and EY. ORTEC as a sponsor is hardly surprising. But a leading professional services provider like EY supporting the event reflects the increasing importance being placed on OR and econometrics by the mainstream business consulting sector.
The Econometric Game 2015 is the 16th edition of these unofficial World Championships of Econometrics. Always held in Amsterdam, the event has become so popular that a restriction has had to be put on entry numbers. The 30 universities selected for this year’s finals will converge on the Dutch capital from no less than 19 countries and 5 continents. Locking horns from 31 March to 2 April 2015 in the atmospheric 17th Century Zuiderkerk exhibition centre, a former church in the historic heart of the city.
Three intense days
The teams — made up of 4 students, including a maximum 2 PhD students and any combination of Macro-, Micro- and Financial Econometrics students — are given a case to resolve in 2 days. The 10 universities with the best solutions in the opinion of a jury of experts progress to the final on Day 3, where they get 1 day to solve a second case.
While the jury deliberates, the Econometrics Congress takes place, as leading experts deliver lectures on different approaches to solving the weekend’s cases. The jury then announces the winners, who in 2014 were The University of Copenhagen. The event is organized by VSAE (University of Amsterdam Econometrics & OR and Actuarial Science students association).
Too smart to be told
The case studies to be solved are kept a strict secret right up to the day in question. This is because the students are so sharp that, from the context of the case studies alone, they would be able to work out more or less all the possible scenarios that could be posed, and thus start to work on them before the event!
But why would a global company like EY (formerly Ernst & Young) want to support what is after all ‘just’ a competition for students? Jacco Jacobs, Executive Director Enterprise Intelligence at EY Financial Services, cites two main reasons.
“First, at EY we’re positioning ourselves in the space where econometrics is vital and these students have the skills, capabilities and background we’re looking for. Secondly, though we don’t yet know what the case studies will be this year, they always concern public challenges, such as the Ebola crisis, the banking crisis or environmental issues, which aligns perfectly with our values as a company, reflected in our tagline ‘building a better working world’.
Though this is the first time ORTEC and EY have supported something in this way, Jacco foresees the relationship deepening. “We have mutual interests that go beyond this event: we’re focused on similar audiences and our shared commitment to leverage the full potential of data and analytics for our customers can hopefully lead to closer cooperation in the future.”
OR’s growing role
Econometrics and related disciplines are increasingly central to the offering of companies like EY. “Our clients in the Financial Services sector are starting to recognize the value of the data that exists within their company and to explore how best to use it. To achieve operational excellence and exploit commercial opportunities, but also to meet regulatory obligations. For example with the ECB now requiring all sorts of data sets from banks, and clients expecting greater transparency in processes and access to data.”
Jacco feels that for both EY and ORTEC’s clients the twin challenge is how to create valuable information while also driving business performance by using the right data — another reason for closer collaboration between the two companies. Data Quality and Data Analytics are key at clients moving to a more analytical organization. And another reason why nurturing and supporting the talent of these world class students is so important for ORTEC and EY’s clients and the wider communities those companies serve.