Roland George and Finance Students Continue to Stun the Competition
With an initial $500,000 gift to Stetson University with the explicit goal of teaching students how to invest money in the markets, Mrs. Roland George would be especially proud of the accomplishments of the students who gain acceptance to this program and the professors who keep a careful watch on what has grown into a $3.5 million portfolio. To showcase their success, each year Stetson’s finance students partake in several state and national competitions.
Started in 1981, the Roland George Investments Program, created by Mrs. Sarah George in memory of her husband, is under the dedicated supervision of Director and Endowed Chair, K.C. Ma, Ph.D., C.F.A. “There is a vigorous application process to become a “George student” since they are considered fiduciaries, responsible for real money,” said Ma.
While it is open to students of any major, to apply for a prestigious seat in the RGIP program one must be a senior, have a minimum G.P.A. of 3.0, and have already taken Investments FINA-320. “I am looking for students with a solid work ethic who are willing to go the extra mile – students who will do their due diligence to handle the university’s money,” said Ma.
Students are required to be dedicated to this program and, in addition to their classroom studies, they usually spend 20 additional hours each week researching possible stocks and bonds to purchase for the portfolio. They must also convince their fellow students that their picks are sound before they would be purchased.
Within the pre-requisite FINA-320 Investment class, Associate Professor of Finance and Chair of the Department of Finance Chris Tobler, Ph.D. leads his students in the Institutional Investor Magazine’s national student trading competition. At least one Stetson student places in the top ten every year. In May, two students were highlighted in the magazine and Stetson ranked 11th in the country out of 50 other universities which participated.
Additionally, both professors Ma and Tobler act as trustees for RGIP, voting on proposed trades and supporting students with guidance and advice when they are working on stock reports and pitching their individual stock picks.
Stetson also participates in the RISE, GAME and GIRC (Global Investments Research Challenge) national competitions to showcase their increase in the portfolio.
Since 2001, RISE has been held each April in Dayton, Ohio. Each December, the previous year’s bank statement is shared with the judges, and the university with the most impressive gains or return on investment (ROI) wins the competition. Over the past 14 years, Stetson has brought in 11 championships, four second-place, and one third-place finishes.
Started in 2011, the GAME competition holds its annual meeting in New York City. Stetson has taken four championships and one second-place finish, as Ivy League college participants and even judges are forced to figure out exactly how this small university is able to return to a small town in Central Florida with so many wins!
The GIRC competition, through the Chartered Financial Analyst association, consists of writing an extensive report on one stock pick (this year AutoNation) usually analyzing a company located in each university’s state. In four out of the last five years, Stetson was among the finalists in Florida. As a state finalist in 2012, students competed in Omaha, Neb., that year against MIT’s M.B.A. program.
“The best thing about the George Investments Program is the real-world application of the concepts and theories we teach in the classroom,” said Tobler. “It is real – real stocks, real bonds, real money – and the students take that responsibility seriously. They put in countless hours on their research reports, running their models, prepping their presentations, and frequently are found working on the trading floor into the wee hours of the morning. That dedication shows the caliber of their work which, I believe, is as good as, or better than, most professional research reports.”
Ma likes to compare the success of his students to that of professional sports teams. “Consistently over 14 years, I have not yet found any professional sports teams to win and have as many championship seasons as we have.”
by Mary M. McCambridge