Real-world experience

The Faculty of Management is preparing to launch an exciting initiative connected to the Centre for Financial Market Research and Teaching (CFMRT).

On Tuesday, Nov. 15, representatives from the University, the community and various stakeholder groups will gather for the official launch of the Student-Managed Investment Fund (SMIF) – $100,000 of real-money to be traded by finance students.

"The fund has been established so that participating students can gain invaluable practice managing a real-life investment portfolio," says Dr. Robert Ellis, dean of the Faculty of Management. "This will give them the opportunity to interact and network with industry experts and other business students interested in finance."

Trading room
The Student-Managed Investment Fund allows students to trade stocks with a real-money account.

The Faculty has provided the initial $100,000 seed capital for the SMIF, which will be invested under the direction of CFMRT academic director, Dr. Pei Shao. Students will conduct the actual trading of funds as part of a new course designed specifically for the program.

"Students participating in the course are selected based on their academic performance and an interview," says Shao. "Eight students have formed our inaugural group and will play the role of either portfolio manager or financial analyst and work within various research teams focusing on different industry sectors."

One of the portfolio managers is finance and marketing major Taylor Nanton.

"Being part of the SMIF fund will allow us to gain hands-on industry experience in our chosen career path," says Nanton, who will graduate in spring 2012. "Having this opportunity provides us with experience we'll use every day in our future positions. It might also help us invest our own money more wisely."

In addition to supervision by Shao, guidance on trading activities will come from an advisory board comprised of external investment professionals, internal faculty members and legal experts. This will ensure compliance with laws, regulations and University policies/guidelines.

Kevin Sassa (BMgt '93), an investment advisor with CIBC Wood Gundy, is one member of the advisory board. He believes the opportunities the University affords through the fund is invaluable.

"From an industry perspective, the fund provides experience that may not be available at other institutions. When I was in university, students didn't have a fund and courses like this, so we had to acquire our expertise once we were out in the professional environment," says Sassa.

"Anytime you can get experience hands on, it bridges that gap between theory and real-world practice."

The SMIF has generated a very positive buzz in the financial community. Potential employers see it as an excellent training exercise, possibly reducing their own training expenses, as new recruits would be better prepared for the full responsibilities of their position coming out of school.

The SMIF advisory board is also a huge advantage for students, allowing them to begin establishing a business network before even entering the workforce.

Beyond the initial capital invested by the Faculty, it is expected that the SMIF will continue to grow through prudent investment by the students and continued fundraising efforts.

"Our goal is to increase the SMIF to $400,000 in the next three years," says Shao. "To achieve this goal, we've launched a fundraising campaign and expect that future funds will come from individual and corporate donors, professional organizations and a portion of University endowment assets. Our long-term vision is that the SMIF will become self-sustaining."

Ellis is enthusiastic about what the SMIF can do for the Faculty's students.

"These students will be exceptionally well prepared for careers in finance," says Ellis.

This story first appeared in the November issue of the Legend. For a look at the Legend in a flipbook format, follow this link.