Finance Majors Manage Part of FGCU Endowment
Sixteen years ago, Lutgert College’s Alico Eminent Scholar in Finance came up with a radical idea: Why not teach students about the stock market in real-time, by allowing them to actively manage a small part of the University’s endowment?
The FGCU Eagle Fund began in January 2005 when Dr. Howard Finch worked with the FGCU Foundation to carve out a portion of the university’s endowment for students to manage. The Foundation created a $100,000 stock portfolio and a $100,000 bond portfolio, and senior finance majors in FIN 4934 Student Managed Investment Fund used it to learn the intricacies of Wall Street. Under the watchful guidance of a succession of Finance professors, from Dr. Finch to Shelton Weeks and now Travis Jones, the fund has flourished: the current value of the stock portfolio is almost $435,000, the bond portfolio is worth over $181,000, and a newly-added small-mid cap portfolio means students in the Eagle Fund now manage approximately $765,000.
The fund has expanded through significant contributions from supporters. Ronald Mushock, a CFA charter holder and former portfolio manager and partner with Systematic Financial Management (SFM), has donated $100,000 to the Eagle Fund and joined the Lutgert Faculty as an adjunct instructor to co-teach FIN 4934. Benefiting from Mr. Mushock’s significant Wall Street experience and a career worth of insights into the stock market, under his tutelage students learn to navigate the Bloomberg terminals, screen stocks based on a number of financial metrics and then invest in a diversified portfolio of companies that meet these performance screens. Mushock’s financial gift builds on one made previously by Mr. Michael Schroeder, giving the Eagle Fund an even larger initial endowment.
“Sometimes it can be hard to understand the full reach and application of a concept or analysis tool when we are only using somewhat 'sterile' class exercises and exams,” says Eagle Fund alum Elizabeth Berg, who graduated recently with degrees in Finance and Management. “The Eagle Fund allows students to see market data, build experience with analysis, and really pull all the details and concepts together so students can take away all they should from the finance major.”
Now Eagle Fund students have even more opportunity to learn, as the FGCU Foundation has voted to allow them to sell covered call and put options to supplement the return for the equity portfolio. The addition of this strategic use of options will allow students to learn how options strategies can be used to reduce volatility and help increase return, especially in a tax-free account, like that of the FGCU Foundation. Students will also be taught to avoid potential uses of options that can increase portfolio risk.
“The Eagle Fund class was my most important experience throughout my college career,” says 2020 graduate Caleb Fortner-Rodriguez. “I gained real world experience managing actual money and the ability to have a conversation about equity and fixed income. I believe it was because of this class that I was able to secure a job with Wasmer Schroeder after graduation.”
“Building wealth is a marathon, not a sprint,” adds student Fidel Antelo Bejarano. “Eagle fund is where you learn to run.”