Investment Club Gives Students Real Market Experience
| by Carol Best firstname.lastname@example.org
On any given Monday during the academic year a group of students gather with Associate Professor Mary Murphy, PhD, and Financial Advisor Jack Hansen (’92, MBA ’99) of Edward Jones, to discuss their investments; not just in theory, but real funds invested in the market to benefit the university. MNU’s Student Investment Club is managing a portfolio started with $50,000 from the MNU Foundation. In just one year of investing the students have seen a return and the foundation board members are pleased.
The club was started to give students real-world investing experience while providing a fundraising opportunity for the foundation. Foundation members were enthusiastic about the idea, believing that alumni in financial fields would have a keen interest in bringing more alumni talent to the industry while also helping their alma mater with a gift. In turn, the club would give students considering a career in finance experience to assist them in the job search.
It’s not as uncommon as one might think. Many universities have investment clubs. Lafayette College boasts it has the nation’s oldest student-run club. Syracuse University’s club is a general partnership with an executive board and includes a diverse membership with freshmen to graduate students.
Murphy and Hansen are MNU’s Student Investment Club advisors and co-teach Investment Portfolio Strategy and Management, a for-credit course taken by students in the club. Hansen put together the curriculum, including basics taken from Edward Jones courses and from his 15 years of experience. The students usually have a general knowledge of investing terms and financial management concepts, but no practical experience. Using real-life examples, Hansen shows them how to use investment instruments in money management. Now in its second year, the club’s portfolio includes about 20 stocks. By the end of this semester, Hansen expects the club to be fully invested.
Several students have played key roles in the club. Luke Friesen (’15), now an auditor at Pricewaterhouse Coopers, interned with Hansen at his Edward Jones branch office and researched forming the club. Jonathan Babcock (’16), organized the club in 2015 and served as its first president. Now a research analyst for DeMarche Associates, Babcock says the experience helped him uncover a passion for investing.
“The experience I gained opened up a lot of doors for me when looking at career opportunities,” he says. “Before the investment club I never would have thought I would have the opportunity to do what I’m doing now.”
Any student can belong to the club but the for-credit course is highly recommended and can be taken multiple times for credit. The club is required to use the same investment policy as the Foundation follows to manage funds under its direction. Aspects of the policy include the allocation of investments mix, close monitoring of industry return on investment benchmarks and the Biblically Responsible Index from the Biblically Responsible Investing Institute. The Foundation expects the Student Investment Club to perform well and so far, they have been pleased with results, according to Tim Keeton, associate vice president for university advancement.
In addition to learning about investments Murphy and Hansen are providing students with numerous opportunities for learning. On March 31, the class traveled to Edward Jones’ headquarters in St. Louis.
“They’ll learn from a research analyst and the associates at the trading desk,” Hansen says. “They’ll be getting a glimpse into how a large financial-services firm works.”
Hansen also brings in special speakers. Some are alumni like Chad Cook (’96), an attorney who spoke on estate planning, and some are industry experts he connects with in his business. This allows the students to see the many different paths they might take in a finance career. The exposure also connects students to career opportunities. Hansen says his firm has between 10 and 12 opportunities in the Kansas City area for the firm's financial advisor training program. Northwestern Mutual is another company that has internship and financial advisor training positions available as well. Other students find the research analyst function is to their liking and pursue that path. Whichever path they choose, Hansen says they are well prepared with an education from MNU.
“The education I received at MNU shaped me for a career in making a difference in my clients' financial lives,” Hansen says. “What I do now is aligned with the principles taught there.”
Babcock expands on those thoughts.
“MNU is a school that provides students with every opportunity to grow,” he says. “However, as a student, I believe you have to be willing to take advantage of these opportunities and make the most of them. MNU is continuously adding new ways for students to learn and grow in adaptive ways and that is why I am excited to see what the next 5, 10 and 20 years holds for this school.”
Alumni who are interested in providing more funding for the investment club’s portfolio, can visit mnu.edu/give.