Portfolio management class gives students real-world experience

For students in Dr. Brian Nichols’ Portfolio Management course, the classroom experience couldn’t get any more hands-on.

“I run the class as a money management firm,” said Nichols, professor of business administration. “I’m the portfolio manager. Each student is an analyst and they select an industry or sector to analyze. They give an update on the types of companies in the sector, how they’re broken down, major events that have happened, threats and opportunities.

“We go through and screen for stocks, look at price data and decide what we want to buy or sell. It’s as hands-on as I can possibly make it.”

The class was first offered in 2006, with $300,000 pulled from the Youngman Portfolio that was endowed to the university. The Plaster School of Business draws a small percentage each year to cover operating expenses.

Nichols said the Standard and Poor 1500 is the benchmark portfolio for his class. In the 10 years the class has been offered, they have kept up with market and, in some years, even beat it.

Today, the class’ portfolio balance stands at more than $413,000.

“What’s so neat about this class is that not many schools have a student managed fund,” Nichols said. “So many students have told me that when they go in for job interviews, employers are really interested in this experience that they’ve had.”

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