Saturday, April 7, 2012

StetsonU wins big in both stocks and bonds

Finance majors Stephen Swofford and Marla Yuan 
represented StetsonU at R.I.S.E. 
Stetson University’s Roland George Investments Program achieved the near-impossible in the financial world this week – winning major national competitions in both the stock and bond categories.

The student-run George Program bond portfolio won first-place in the Fixed-Income Category in the world’s largest student investment competition, the R.I.S.E. Forum at the University of Dayton in Ohio.

In New York City, the program’s stock portfolio won first-place in the Core Equity Category at the Quinnipiac Global Asset Management Education (G.A.M.E.) Forum.

“This really is a once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment to win big in both stocks and bonds,” said Finance Professor K.C. Ma, director of the program. “These are two separate classes, operating independently. No money managers, not even Warren Buffett, can rank top in both stock and bond asset classes simultaneously.”

“Added to that is the George Program’s consistency in winning national competitions, year after year,” Ma said. “To win for 12 straight years is beyond luck. The George Program follows a successful and proven business model. We are especially proud of the George students’ portfolio performance this year.”

Students in the Roland George Investments Program make all of their own investment decisions, investing $2.75 million in real money in bonds and stocks. About 20-25 students participate in the program, which is part of Stetson’s School of Business Administration, each academic year.

Stetson was a pioneer in student-managed investment programs which are now a growing trend in finance education with more than 300 programs nationwide and 400 in the world that allow students to make investment decisions with real capital. The George Program began in 1980; it is consistently mentioned as one of the reasons Stetson ranks among America’s best colleges by U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review.

Stetson has had “amazing consistency” in the R.I.S.E. competition, Ma said, with nine first-place wins and three second-place wins since the annual competition began 12 years ago. The George Program has won in every category of the R.I.S.E. competition.

This year, as the economy continues a slow recovery, the George Program’s 2011 bond portfolio produced an annual return of 7.4 percent. The students chose to invest only in investment-grade corporate bonds. The bond portfolio’s year-end value was $1.13 million.

Seniors, from left, Marla Yuan, Shaun Tracey, Stephen Swofford and Michael Taylor celebrate the remarkable wins in the trading room at Stetson's Lynn Business Center.

Stetson competed against colleges and universities nationwide at R.I.S.E. Seniors Stephen Swofford, finance major from Winnetka, Ill., and Marla Yuan, finance major from Chongquing, China, represented Stetson at the conference, which featured about 25 investment professional speakers.

“It was an honor to represent RGIP at the 2012 R.I.S.E. portfolio performance competition,” said Swofford, fall-semester student portfolio manager. “Bringing home the program’s ninth first-place award really shows the strength in our program here at Stetson. Thanks to Dr. Ma for sharing his wisdom with all of us.”

It was the second win in a row for Stetson at the comparatively young G.A.M.E. competition, now in its second year. Competing against other schools’ portfolios, the George Program placed first in the Core Equity Category.

The George Team invested in a variety of stocks, with Apple being its top performer. The stock portfolio’s year-end value was $1.37 million. So far in 2012, the equity portfolio has had outstanding performance, with a 16.4 percent gain from Jan. 1 to April 2.

“This year, we felt the economy was improving, so we wanted to get into large-cap growth stock,” said Taylor, one of two students who represented Stetson at the G.A.M.E. conference.

“To beat the market and outperform these schools is a huge feat. It was very enjoyable to be in New York and be a part of it,” said Taylor, a senior from Daytona Beach who’s majoring in both finance and management. “It was an honor to be invited.”

After the win was announced, the George Team got loads of attention from other students and younger students looking at colleges, said spring-semester student portfolio manager Shaun Tracey, a Deltona senior majoring in finance, management and management information systems.

“We were very excited,” said Tracey, who also attended G.A.M.E. “It was a chance to show what Stetson University’s investment program does, and it gave us a chance to see how our competition is doing, as well.”

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