Students try their hand at the market
Correction: An version of this article that ran in print indicated S&P 500 had a year-to-date return of 1.7 percent. The actual figure is 5 percent.
The Student Investment Fund is a School of Management-run fund that consistently outperforms the S&P 500, an American stock market index comprised of 500 companies with stock listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Founded in 1991 with $100,000 of private donations, the Fund has since grown to over $1 million as of 2017 and has a year-to-date return of 3.55 percent versus S&P’s 5 percent. In the past, the Student Investment Fund had given away $65,000 of scholarships, but recent robust earnings allow for the Fund to distribute four annual awards of $25,000 each.
Students can engage with the fund through a class of the same name and are given the task of researching potential investments, pitching stocks and making group decisions on what to invest the fund’s money in, among other tasks. The class is taught in both the Fall and Spring semesters by Kimberley McGinnis, Student Investment Fund instructor and adviser, and students can take the class for both semesters.
“The Student Investment Fund is a great course for both finance majors and non-finance majors alike,” McGinnis said. “The Student Investment Fund really draws on what you’ve learned in every single School of Management course.”
McGinnis also believes that the Student Investment Fund is a great course for anyone who wants to work on their speaking or critical thinking skills.
” You need to understand how to size a market,” McGinnis said. “You need to understand the operations of a business to evaluate whether they can actually deliver on the financial promises they’ve made.”
The Student Investment Fund participated last year in the Private Business Valuation Challenge, hosted by Georgia State, and the Chartered Financial Analyst Research Challenge in Honolulu, Hawaii. The team is also currently in New York City for the second year, attending an asset management conference and going on office visits to meet finance professionals.
“The Student Investment Fund is a place where you can learn a lot about a very confusing industry,” Neill Joelle, a Student Investment Fund student, said. “It also presents a lot of students with opportunities outside of the class. There’s a lot of student competitions that occur, so you have opportunities to travel.”
The class provides students with experiences that reach beyond simple finance, as Omo Oisamoje, Student Investment Fund student, attests.
“I really love the class because seeing myself grow and blossom through the process of the entire semester is very rewarding,” Oisamoje said. “I also have a fashion blog, and I sometimes apply some of the ratios and things I’ve learned from this class to my blog. So there’s a skill I’ve actually taken from just an investment class to a fun project I’m working on.”
Aside from learning skills that benefit them in their private lives, many students have gone on to successful careers in finance, such as Alec Hajdukovich, a recent alum who is working in New York City in private equity. Other alumni have chosen to stay in Alaska, going on to careers in private wealth management or working for the Permanent Fund Division.
Tamera Weaver, UA Statewide Chief Investment Officer, offers this advice to any prospective students interested in the Student Investment Fund.
“If a student was thinking about taking the Student Investment Fund class, one thing I would tell them is prepare to work hard, because this is something you must stay on top of,” Weaver said. “Things in the real world are changing on a daily basis, and if this is a sector or a stock that you’re involved with, you’re the one who is responsible for bringing that to the attention of the class. ”