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Ohio University’s Student Investment Groups Overcoming Virtual Challenges

Friday, December 4 2020 02:00pm

Unique challenges presented by the global pandemic haven't stopped OHIO's three selective finance groups from success.

Ohio University’s three student investment groups have faced unique challenges this semester due to the virtual learning environment, but are working hard to ensure that these challenges do not delay their successes.

The Fixed Income Management Group, Derivatives Management Group, and Student Equity Management Group are all student-run organizations that provide industry-leading experiences for students interested in investments and related fields.

Fixed Income Management Group actively manages a $3.2 million portfolio of fixed income securities for the Ohio University Endowment Fund. Members learn crucial research and analysis skills and investment methodologies that are necessary for success in future careers by using Bloomberg Terminals, a software for security analysis, to research prospective investments and analyze trends. They have a 100% job placement post-graduation with six seniors working at top Wall Street banks and have a strong representation across Big 4 accounting and consulting firms.

Members used to meet three to four times each week in Copeland Hall, but due to this semester’s challenges, they have switched to a completely virtual environment and had to navigate an entirely virtual recruitment for new members.

“This semester has brought us many challenges, including market volatility and illiquidity, lack of in-person networking trips, and our social events being limited or cancelled. We’ve overcome these challenges with weekly alumni networking calls, 24/7 Bloomberg access through Bloomberg anywhere, and eight investments being added into our portfolio,” said Edward Kunkel, president of Fixed Income Management Group. “Despite these challenges, we’ve accomplished a lot this semester including portfolio outperformance of our benchmark, several members landing internships and full-time jobs at prestigious Wall Street firms, and maintaining our group’s commitment to excellence through a virtual transition.”

The Derivatives Management Group teaches its members about the world of investments and finance through managing swaps, options, and futures portfolios. The group meets virtually twice each week – one for pitches and the other for advanced trainings. Each meeting aims to teach members the professional and technical skills required for the jobs and internships that they strive for.

The biggest adjustment that they experienced as they shifted to a virtual environment is the way the organization creates pitches. Working on and completing pitches virtually requires more coordination and communication throughout the week. Despite this semester’s major change, they have returned 6.6%, which is three times what their benchmark, the S&P500, returned over the same period.

“Although we had to recruit virtually, we were still able to recruit seven interns that have done an amazing job this semester being engaged, asking questions, and demonstrating that they want to learn derivatives,” said Patrick Mullin, president of Derivatives Management Group. “I am extremely proud of all of our members that have continued to stay motivated, contribute positively to the group’s work and culture, and have embodied what it means to be a member of the Derivatives Management Group.”

The Student Equity Management Group manages a $7.1 million portfolio of equity securities for the Ohio University Foundation, which supports scholarships, research, grants, and other initiatives. This group teaches members how to research and pitch equity securities, while also teaching portfolio management skills, covering a wide range of topics relating to financial markets.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Student Equity Management Group has also operated completely online, with three meetings on Microsoft Teams each week and a virtual fall recruitment. During the shift from in-person to virtual meetings, they have found it difficult to transition their new group members into the organization in an efficient and engaging way. As a result, they have been emphasizing the importance of strong mentorship from older group members to help the new members get familiar with the equity market and group operations.

“This group has been resilient in the face of new operating challenges on both a collective and individual level,” said Joe Boyko, senior on the executive board of the Student Equity Management Group. “We have outperformed our benchmark by more than 100bps YTD, and group members have remained committed to producing high-quality work in a virtual setting. Group members have also earned themselves highly respected internships and full-time opportunities through hard work and building lasting relationships with a very successful alumni base.”