By Jeff Murphy, February 26, 2021
Standing in back, Dr. Roger Best, president of the University of Central Missouri, and Courtney Goddard, vice president of University Advancement and executive director of the Alumni Foundation, listen to remarks by Dr. James Cicon, who provides academic advisement for the Student Managed Investment Fund (SMIF) course.
WARRENSBURG, MO – While providing an outstanding learning opportunity for University of Central Missouri students, the Student Managed Investment Fund (SMIF) recently grew to more than $1 million under management. This doubled the amount initially committed by the UCM Alumni Foundation in 2013 to create the SMIF in the Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies (HCBPS).
The SMIF is an experiential hands-on class at UCM which is structured like an investment company. It is led by a student executive team consisting of a Chief Executive Officer, Chief Portfolio Manager, Lead Economist, External Relationships Manager and a Business Manager. In the current class, these roles are filled (respectively) by Evan Anderlik, Josh Terrell, Codie Bell, Dylan Price and Alex Martin. The remaining students in the class fill the rolls of analysts and committee members. Currently they are Alec McClendon, Ben Goldbach, Bernado Vasquez, Calaway McQueeny, Dillon Blain, Krysten Smith, Kyle Swope, Lion Schneider, Makyla French, Salvatore Garozzo, Tim Otto, Vincent Spalitto, Zion Vasquez and Jeroen Holtes, a student who is taking the class synchronously from The Netherlands. The Academic Advisor to the SMIF is Dr. James Cicon, Ph.D, J.D.
The SMIF was launched a year after the Foundation authorized its initial investment of $500,000, and HCBPS leadership committed infrastructure, allowing students to gain course credit and a realistic experience by performing detailed investment analyses under the direction of faculty members in the HCBPS.
Experience gained by students is taking place in the “Trading Room,” officially called the Donn G. Forbes Center for Financial Services, located on the first floor of the Ward Edwards Building. This innovative facility was made possible by a gift from UCM alumnus Donn Forbes, who graduated in 1952 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. It provides a state-of the art facility stocked with advanced finance technology and tools, foremost of which is 12 Bloomberg Professional Service terminals. Bloomberg is the industry leading platform for news data, analytical tools, and research. Taking advantage of the tools available, UCM students can gain the type of experiences employers seek when it comes to business and finance.
“This is hands-on,” Dr. Cicon said. “A lot of classes are academic or theoretical, but in this class we manage real money and make real decisions driven by breaking news about regional, national and global events. SMIF students are required to read the ‘Wall Street Journal’ every day. They master the Bloomberg assets provided by the dean of the HCBPS (Jose Mercado).”
“This does not feel so much like a class but more like an actual wealth management fund,” said SMIF CEO Evan Anderlik.
CEO Anderlik noted that students enrolled in the class follow an investment policy which provides guidelines for investing. All students in the class are also financial analysts and are required to create detailed recommendation reports justifying their investment decisions. Such reports can range anywhere from 30 to 40 pages. The student analysts use these reports to present a live ‘pitch’ to the rest of the class, after which the class members vote on whether or not to adopt the recommendation. Compliance to investment policy is a critical factor used by the students in deciding how to vote.
“So just like fund managers do, we follow the investment policy, and every semester we present a report to the Alumni Foundation. That’s where we breakdown performance over the semester, how we are weighted against our index,” Anderlik said. He added that there are plenty of opportunities for students to put a variety of different skills to use as members of the SMIF team.
Healthcare, information technology, and consumer discretionary investments make up a large part of the portfolio under SMIF’s direction, but it also includes investments in areas such as utilities, real estate and energy. Through careful management, with oversight provided by Dr. Cicon, the fund went over $1 million in mid-February.
“Of course, it’s not the end of everything,” Anderlik said. “Our goal is to keep pushing forward. Our objective is still the same for this semester. Our investment policy says our primary objective is academic.” He added, however, “Our secondary objective is to retain capital contributed by the Foundation in 2013, as well as to enhance returns on investments.” This is helpful in securing funds that can be used for funding scholarships and other opportunities that benefit students.
UCM President Roger Best was serving as dean of the Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies when the fund was established. He, Jose Mercado, and the Foundation Executive at that time, spearheaded the effort to create the fund. Best returned to Donn G. Forbes Center recently to thank students for their good work. Joining him was Courtney Goddard, vice president of University Advancement and executive director of the Alumni Foundation.
“It’s a very impressive set of returns, and even the last quarter and last couple of months has been very good. It speaks well about the great work that you are doing from an analytical perspective, and following the stocks and taking it seriously,” Best told the SMIF team. “You are learning that it’s not just about maximizing your returns because there are other ways you could have done that. So great job on your effort, and hopefully (your SMIF experience) will translate into some good things for you going forward.”
President Best also expressed his appreciation to Dr. Cicon for his work with students, to Dean Mercado for providing the money to license the Bloomberg terminals and the associated infrastructure, and to the UCM Alumni Foundation for continuing to support SMIF.
“We are incredibly proud to be affiliated with you,” Goddard said. She added that the UCM Alumni Foundation continues to seek opportunities with businesses that will lead to student jobs and help finance and update equipment as needed.
“That’s what we do at the Foundation,” she said. “We’re always looking for support for programs like yours because it’s such a stellar example of what UCM is doing.”
In addition to making the Forbes Center possible, alumni have also supported the SMIF in other ways. This includes the Westhoff Family Undergraduate Fellowship, which was stablished by William, ’69 and Ruth, ‘68 Westhoff, to help fund the CEO’s position.