Finance Students Gain Real-World Experience Through Fund Management

7.9.2020 MBA, Undergraduate Business

Starting this Fall, students in the undergraduate and MBA programs at the Wake Forest School of Business will have the opportunity to gain real-world fund management experience.

Undergraduate Finance majors will be offered the “Equity Investments” elective course and MBA students in the program’s new Finance concentration will take “Tactical Asset Allocation and Portfolio Management.”

The courses will teach students to identify factors that can be used to recognize promising investment opportunities, replicate popular asset pricing models, develop stock screening techniques, produce analyst reports, make professional investment recommendations and presentations, and create and rebalance portfolios. Students will also have the opportunity to learn about best practices from alumni and industry experts.

Both courses will be taught by Mark Johnson, assistant dean of MBA Programs and Teaching Professor, and will allow students to manage over $400,000 in real money. Available funds will also be supplemented by a gift from Peter Brockway, a Trustee of the University, Executive in Residence at the School, and Partner in the investment firm Brockway Group, LLC.

Students will be placed into teams to monitor various sectors of the market and will make recommendations for assets to be included in the fund. Their classmates must approve all portfolio transactions and regular portfolio rebalancing will occur throughout the semester. Johnson will provide oversight for the fund.

“In addition to covering the course topics, I will ensure that students are doing due diligence on all proposed transactions as well as ensure they are adhering to the Investment Policy Statement,” said Johnson. “Students will also monitor the fund’s performance and discuss it with our fund’s advisory board.”

Undergraduate Finance Program Director and Associate Professor of Finance Bill Marcum said the seeds of the fund came into existence several years ago, but Johnson was the missing piece of the puzzle.

“Mark has the experience, desire, and ability to oversee the fund and guide students,” Marcum said. “With his guidance, students will confront the complications and uncertainty that come with managing a live portfolio. They will come to his classes having taken requisite classes giving them the underpinnings necessary to effectively analyze stocks, the market, and the overall economy.”

Ajay Patel, professor and Thomas S. Goho Chair in Finance, said keen student interest in managing a fund is also driving the offering.

“Our undergraduate students have been interested in managing a fund, and this opportunity should also be very appealing to our MBA students, given the number of asset management firms in Charlotte and in the Triad,” said Patel. “This is a great experiential opportunity for students to not only learn about Investments theoretically, but also gain hands-on practice in equity research, pitching a transaction, and managing an equity portfolio.”

Johnson knows students will leave with lessons that will impact their careers. “I hope students learn how challenging and rewarding asset management can be,” he said. “I also want them to feel more comfortable investing their own money regardless of which industry they work in after leaving Wake Forest.”