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‘Real money into real returns’: Finance majors research and invest for a greater good

Business students at Boise State benefit the community through the college’s many partnerships with local organizations. They supply companies with valuable insights through their research, and at the same time, students have the opportunity to network with potential employers and ​​strengthen their resumes. For finance majors, the College of Business and Economics’ student-managed investment funds not only give them invaluable experience managing a portfolio, but a portion of the money supports fellow students on campus.

Video: The Student-Managed Investment Program

Closed captions available and a transcript is provided at the end of this page.

The Student-Managed Investment Program launched in 1997 with a donation of $50,000 from Tim Schlindwein, a Chicago wealth manager, former executive-in-residence in the college and longtime member of its advisory council. This year, a generous gift from Allen and Dixie Dykman pushed a total of four funds to more than $1 million.

The program is unlike any other on campus — students step into advisory roles while finance professors execute trades based on their insights and analyses. Students do the research, estimate risks and returns, and experiment with different investment strategies to decide how to best distribute the fund’s assets.

At the beginning of the academic year, finance students look at the investment landscape and formulate their own investment strategies. One of the newest funds in the program, the Impact Investment Fund, launched in 2018 and tasks these students to invest for the public good, specifically the good of the Boise State community. As this fund receives donor contributions and investment gains, it will have sufficient resources to generate direct financial support for the campus food pantry and student scholarships.

“The Impact Investment Fund is a powerful experiential learning tool that has the added benefit of serving Boise State students in need,” said Perrine Blakley, senior director of development for the College of Business and Economics. “By following the broad investment mandate set forth in the fund, our finance students are able to see, over a fairly short period of time, how their work benefits their fellow students.”

Portrait of Adam Still
Adam Still

Adam Still (BBA, finance, 2019), an alum and former student in the course, managed a portfolio of student-selected stocks as part of his Finance 461 class. He and his classmates analyzed financial data using Bloomberg terminals located in the college’s Dykman Financial Trading Room (named after the donors to the investment program). Inside the room, stock tickers light up the space with heaps of financial data and market news.

“The most applicable part of the class was watching markets every day while trying to explain what we were seeing, and this sums up part of my job now,” said Still, an equity analyst at Macquarie Asset Management in Kansas City, Missouri. “Why did the S&P 500 drop 5% today? Sometimes there’s a clear explanation and other days it’s a complete mystery, but the mental exercise of trying to piece together causality is valuable. I got a healthy dose of this process while involved with the college’s investment fund.”

Although the program is powered by donor support, finance students have generated an additional $300,000 in growth from those initial contributions. Last year, $24,000 in earnings from the fund were awarded as scholarships to business students. And once students complete the course, they have an e-portfolio they can show potential employers, illustrating their experience managing real-world investments.

“It is a direct application of the concepts that we cover in our classes,” Professor Garrett McBrayer said of his 400-level courses. “Real money and real securities into real returns.”

The College of Business and Economics Student-Managed Investment Program welcomes your support

Your gift not only provides experiential learning for business students but directly supports campus resources like the food pantry, as well as student scholarships. All gifts to the fund are tax-deductible and eligible for the Idaho Education Tax Credit. Learn More about COBE Student and Career Programs

By Matt Jones

Video Transcript

[Cole McLynne, Finance Major] Participation in this class and in the management fund has been huge in developing some skills for professional work. You’re doing a lot of financial analysis, you’re looking at like financial statements, ratios… It is literally like a mini version of what I’m going to be doing at some point.

[Keith D. Harvey, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Finance] I think one of the unique aspects of the class is that it’s an opportunity for the students to apply knowledge not just from their finance curriculum, but really all across their business school studies. They’ve talked about these data in their coursework, but now they get a chance to really use it in real time, making some consequential decisions for portfolios. My role, as I see it, is to help them learn to use this wonderful resource that we have in the room, which are these Bloomberg Terminals. Bloomberg is used not just in the investments world, but also in corporate finance, and financial institutions, financial services and government.

[Emily Pequignot, Finance Major] Having that ability to have a practical setting for the knowledge and being able to apply it in Bloomberg, is just like a privilege to have. What’s in your resume should be actual skills, and so it is an actual skill that you have.

[Ryan Relyea ’99, Managing Director, Harbor Capital Partners] My experience as a student here and working with the student managed fund has impacted my career dramatically. We’re actually dealing with real world dollars, real money that has been donated by benefactors. It’s a real privilege to not only deploy real capital and see its returns, but know where those returns are going. They’re going back into the education, the future of the students here at Boise State.

[Emily] It is a responsibility to manage that fund. The earnings are going towards the Campus Food Pantry as well. So knowing that it’s going towards future students, as well as helping our current students, is amazing.

[Ryan] This university…. the College of Business and Economics, turns out business leaders every year. I see that as a great investment in the future of our city and of our state. This fund not only provides practical application for things learned in lectures, but allows those funds to continue to grow and spin off scholarships, and technology, and reinvestment in the university. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, potentially for generations to come.