Wall Street South brings trading experience to the classroom
Members of the Wall Street South Investment Club may be investing “house money,” but it’s a sure bet they’re getting a return on their investments.
And that’s the bottom line for the Department of Finance student club, which had a record of more than 200 members in the recently completed academic year. It was the largest group participating since 1998, when senior lecturer Kerri McMillan took over as the club’s adviser.
“It’s a wonderful experiential learning opportunity for juniors and seniors majoring in one of the College of Business disciplines,” said McMillan, a Chartered Financial Analyst and Alumni Master Teacher. “Each club member is given $100,000 in hypothetical portfolio money to trade in securities. Students are able to take what they learned in the classroom and actually apply it.”
Founded in 1983, the club monitors each investor’s portfolio and at the end of the two-semester trading period the top 10 portfolios are recognized.
Christian Holcombe, a recent finance graduate and officer of the investment club, said he benefited by learning about various investment vehicles and from the finance industry experts who spoke to the group.
“I understood how trading stocks worked, but wanted to learn something new, so I focused on options trading. Reading about it in a class is a lot different than executing the trade,” said Holcombe, who had one of the club’s top 10 portfolios this past year. “Beyond that, I learned a lot from the different speakers who came to our meetings, and learned about careers in investing.”
McMillan regularly taps industry professionals from some of the nation’s biggest investment and financial companies.
“One of the perks of Wall Street South is students gain first-hand knowledge about investing strategies and careers from seasoned professionals,” she said. “For the first time this year, our speakers included a hedge fund manager, a private equities manager, and an official from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC).”
McMillan said students’ reasons for joining Wall Street South vary. Some are simply curious, others may want to pursue a career in investing, or they just want to know more about investing, without the risk, because it will give them a better understanding for their personal investments.
“This year, a marketing student took the class simply because she wanted to learn more about stocks. She invested in a company that she interned at because she knew something about them,” McMillan said. “And the students take very different investment approaches. One purchased options to better understand how they work, while another invested in mutual funds because in real life she owns some and has made ‘real’ money with them.”
Like others in the club, Christian may not end up in an investing career. But he saw Wall Street South as an outside-the-classroom learning experience that could benefit him personally someday.
“I’ve already accepted a job with financial software company, so I won’t be working in investments to start my career,” he said. “If I do someday get into an investment job, this will have definitely helped. If not, it’s a skill that will pay me dividends in my personal investing.”
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