The Student Managed Asset Risk and Return Training Fund (SMARRT Fund), officialized in October of 2019, will give Southern students an opportunity to help manage and invest a half million dollar endowment from the university. Students who are a part of the SMARRT Fund team also will have the opportunity to receive a certification related to financial markets and practices.
While the money is still held by the university, the SMARRT Fund student committee will get to decide how it is invested with the help of faculty advisors. The money is 1% of a recent assets sale by the university, according to finance professor Dennis Steele, one of the faculty advisors for the fund.
Steele said being a part of the team would involve economic analysis, understanding how both local and global economies work and knowing how what is happening economically around the world affects certain financial sectors.
Prospective members also have access to the Bloomberg Terminal, a market analytics database that usually has a $24,000 annual access fee. Through this, students can choose to take the Bloomberg Market Concept course that teaches them how to utilize the database and receive a Bloomberg Certification.
“We run the fund like a financial organization,” Steele said. “The current student team is working on doing the analysis necessary to determine what sectors of the market they want to invest in.
“Four percent of the return from the investments are used for scholarships and financing students at Southern.”
The rest of the money is used to continue operating the SMARRT fund.
“The emphasis is on training,” said finance Braam Oberholster, finance professor and another faculty advisor for the fund. “Yes, we have to make decisions and do the analysis, but students need to learn how to actually analyze the market. Then, those who are more advanced will be able to train incoming members.”
No academic credit is provided, but Steele emphasizes other benefits from joining the SMARRT Fund team.
“You have something very interesting to share about, and it is something practical. You can say, ‘Hey I helped manage a half million dollars, and I did these reports and analysis.’ It looks good on a resume for future internships and jobs.”
Currently, there are only six students on the team, many of whom are seniors graduating this spring.
“We are just starting now with recruiting of analysts,” Oberholster said. “The idea is that we will be able to bring people in as analysts from across the whole campus because we need that diversity of insight. We need to recognize that business is something that touches every dimension of our lives.”