UD students manage $30-million stock portfolio for university

When students leave home for college, it’s often the first time they budget their own money but a group of University of Dayton students is doing that and managing a $30-million investment portfolio.

UD students have the option of applying for a program at the school’s Davis Center for Portfolio Management where they work on Bloomberg branded terminals and keep an eye on stock market trends on screens throughout the room, Surrounded by stock tickers, around 40 or so students are tasked with the responsibility of investing around 3 percent of UD’s endowment.

Endowments are investment funds used by colleges to pay for certain scholarships and jobs, among other things. The Flyer Investment Fund is the fourth-largest, student-run portfolio in the United States, said Daniel Kapusta, director of the center.

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“(We’re) three times larger than Ohio State and twice as large as that Catholic university to the north of us, Notre Dame,” Kapusta joked about the fund.

The students regularly beat market benchmarks which have helped them grow the fund from $1 million in 1999 to its current $30 million. Just in the last year, students returned around $5.5 million, according to the university.

This year was the first time in their college career that students working in the Davis Center have had to navigate market turmoil. The corrections from earlier in the year were healthy, but jitters from a potential trade war with China and other nations has the potential to make the stock market even more volatile, students said.

“It’s something where you might just have to stomach a little more volatility… but overall we still view the market as a positive going into 2018,” said UD senior Evan Willmann.

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Students who join the program start learning how to get involved when they’re freshmen and by the time they graduate, they almost always have a job working for a financial firm, said Kapusta.

Chris Topp, who is graduating this year, is headed to BlackRock, while Willmann has taken a job at Cleveland Research Company and Maggie Schutter will go to PWC in Chicago. Through the center, the university has established relationships with places such as Goldman Sachs, Bloomberg and JP Morgan Chase, among others.

“I think we all had internship experience this past summer where some of the students we interned with went to like an ivy league school. I would say Dayton students can absolutely stack up compared to them,” said Topp. “It’s a testament to the experiential learning that goes on in here.”

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