Loyola University Chicago

Quinlan School of Business

Managing a $800,000 portfolio—as a student

Managing a $800,000 portfolio—as a student

Joseph Caucas, a finance major and member of the Rambler Investment Fund, works on a Bloomberg Terminal at Quinlan. (Photo by Heather Eidson)

By Anna Gaynor | Copywriter

Investment and portfolio management isn’t just for Quinlan School of Business students anymore. Or at least that’s what the Rambler Investment Fund hopes Loyola students take notice of.

RIF gives students real-world investment experience by allowing them to invest actual money in financial assets. What originally began as a class officially became a student organization in spring 2015, but unlike most clubs, RIF manages an endowment of roughly $800,000 specifically designated for students to invest with.

“That’s what’s great,” Rick Osty, a finance major and co-founder of RIF, said. “I wouldn’t call this simulation. It’s the real thing. It’s live ammunition.”

Open to undergraduate and graduate students across Loyola, RIF puts students in the roles of portfolio managers. This position bestows many of the same responsibilities including developing equity research reports on company stocks and opportunities worth investing in. Students then deliver a pitch to their advisors, Steven Todd, associate dean of faculty and research at Quinlan, and Eric Jones, treasurer and chief investment officer at the University.

“We saw it as an opportunity to share that with other Loyola students—creating a student-managed investment fund, where they can come in, do the research, generate ideas, pitch those ideas, and be a little competitive and comparable to other top universities,” Joseph Caucas, a finance major, said.

That type of independence is something Todd plans to keep fostering in the organization as faculty advisor. Not only is the club giving students the chance to stand in the shoes of a portfolio manager, but they also get something else—the opportunity to fail.

“I feel it’s really important that the students learn from their mistakes and actually experience what it’s like as a portfolio manager to make a bad choice—or to make a good choice—and to track that through time.”

Firsthand Experience

This past semester, he and Jones heard about 20 equity pitches from students, some good, some not quite as good. When it came time to decide which would get the funding they asked for, the two decided to give it to all of them.

“I can’t guarantee that every year I will fund every pitch,” Todd said. “But we did want to do this the first year to get them invested in the idea that it’s important they work hard because if they don’t work hard and they make mistakes, the fund will suffer.”

While Todd admits that he will try to persuade students away from bad investments, he hopes that down the road he will be able to take a step back from the decision-making process and allow the student executive committee to choose what gets funded and what doesn’t.

If it sounds like a lot of responsibility for students, it turns out to be a welcome one. For many, this is their first introduction to investing and finance.

“When you’re a student coming to an organization like this and you start actually doing things and pitching ideas—if your ideas don’t really work out the right way, you can be grinding your teeth a little bit,” Osty said. “Meeting with Todd and Jones, it’s just like any type of internship or job. They’re very serious individuals when you meet with them. ”

The reports take more than just figuring out profits and earnings, according to Dan Yara, an accounting major and member of the fund.  It also means understanding what all that information means. Something like the number of locations a store shutters might be relevant and affect a stock negatively, or it could mean nothing at all.

Firsthand Responsibility

For him, it’s this very real accountability that sets RIF apart from other clubs.

“It’s not like your normal club, where you go to a monthly meeting and then you kind of just forget about it,” Yaras said. “It’s not a resume filler. It’s just a very different club in the way it’s structured.”

That structure, as well as the networking events and workshops led by Todd, is giving Caucas, Yara, and Osty invaluable experience for their careers down the road. Yet, even those who aren’t looking for a professional life in the portfolio management world will still be able to find something worthwhile.

“If you gave me any major right now, I could probably find a way to plug them into the investment club and give them a route they could do that would be extremely beneficial to the club,” Osty said. “Even for medical majors, biotech is a huge industry. We’re always interested in anybody who has an interest in their passion as well as investing in financial markets. We’d love to pair them up.”