It’s difficult to fault millennials for being skittish about investing in their futures. After all, retirement isn’t top of mind for most college students, and many of them came of age during one of the most horrifying financial crises in U.S. history.

Business students have access to investment analytics in Trading Room on the first floor of Sirrine Hall.

Business students have access to investment analytics in Trading Room on the first floor of Sirrine Hall.
Image Credit: University photo

Add to that the average 18- to 34-year-olds’ lack of investment know-how and you’re potentially looking at a generation without the wherewithal for life after their careers.

Though Kerri McMillan’s students aren’t average millennials, the senior lecturer and chartered financial analyst in Clemson University’s Department of Finance instills the importance of investing early, no matter the amount, to guide her students down a path to financial security.

“I want my students to use their time at Clemson to find a career path that best suits them. Even if they aren’t pursuing a career in the financial markets, their experience here empowers them to grow their own personal wealth for a secure financial future,” said McMillan, a former security analyst and portfolio manager for an investment advisory firm.

No matter their career paths, Clemson’s business students are getting hands-on tools and real-time experience needed to understand the markets and make informed investment decisions as professionals, or individuals.

Business students at Clemson have access to a trading room on the first floor of Sirrine Hall equipped with Bloomberg Financial Markets technology, considered the premier financial markets analytics system.

“Bloomberg analytics technology is the best in the business and is considered a staple among Wall Street professionals,” McMillan said. “Our students are able to analyze stocks, bonds, commodities and mutual funds. As part of their assignments, they have to evaluate different investment vehicles to determine their best investment options. It brings a real-life experience into the classroom.”

Students can also become certified on the Bloomberg analytics system, which can be a real resume enhancer when seeking employment with a financial markets firm.

Another real-life tool McMillan has incorporated into the learning experience is the Wall Street South Investment Club.  More than 100 students annually pay a nominal fee to join the club for a two-semester experience in trading equities and managing their own investment portfolios. Each participant is given $100,000 in hypothetical money to invest.

“It’s a friendly competition that is open to all business majors. Each month, we list the top ten portfolios and at the end of the school year, we determine whose portfolio produced the highest return,” said McMillan who has been teaching at Clemson since 1998.

Finance students invest

Kerri McMillan, CFA, gives finance students a real-life taste of investing.

“Participation in the club has motivated some students to pursue financial markets careers, but for others it’s a competition to test whether they’ve done their homework and made sound investment decisions. “I had a student, not too long ago, who finished in the top three, but he didn’t want to invest for a living. For him, it was too much of a roller-coaster existence, so he chose corporate finance as his career path.”

“One of the perks of the Wall Street South Investment Club is hearing first-hand knowledge about investing strategies and careers from seasoned professionals employed by some of the nation’s biggest investment and financial companies.

A beneficiary of Clemson’s hands-on investment learning is Steve Miller, a junior from Barrington, R.I., majoring in finance.

“The trading room, analytics technology and Wall Street South are all tools that contribute to a real-life experience that goes beyond classroom learning. It’s not only great for someone planning to go into investments like me, it’s almost as important if you’re not,” Miller said. “At some point in life, most people will have a financial portfolio, so knowing about investments has real long-term implications.”

Whether it’s preparing students for a career in investment analytics, or offering them guidance on how to make smart investment decisions for personal gain, McMillan and Clemson are delivering a learning experience that has lifelong impacts.

“The earlier one starts to invest, no matter the amount, the more savvy they will be with their money and ultimately they will create a more financially sound future for themselves,” McMillan said.