The Student Managed Asset Risk and Return Training (SMARRT) fund, a program designed to help students analyze the stock market and understand the process of making real investments, continued despite COVID-19 shutting down in-person meetings in March.
“We kept pushing forward,” said Southern alumnus Niraj Patel, last year’s vice president for economics for the SMARRT fund team. “We had weekly meetings via Zoom with the team and faculty advisors and kept moving to finish our research so that the new upcoming team (now current) would have a nice cushion to work from.”
Patel was responsible for looking into current economic events and determining how those events would affect the team’s portfolio of potential investments. The team observed many trends such as interest rates, unemployment rates and the gross domestic product (GDP). Then, they created and reviewed an economic report that helped them make clearer decisions about their investments.
“The student analysis reports came out in April with recommendations for investments. Towards the latter part of May, investment decisions were made,” said faculty advisor Braam Oberholster. “The students were engaged way past the close of school.”
According to Oberholster, close to $500,000 was invested in shares from different sectors of the economy. By the end of August, the value of the team’s investments was around $562,000 to $563,000.
However, the SMARRT fund teaches more than just stock analysis and investment strategy.
“SMARRT has taught me a lot about how to create a brand from scratch,” said Alexis Schultz, a senior business administration major and SMARRT fund’s current vice president for marketing. “This included creating platforms, designing a logo and onboarding new recruits. It has helped me increase my time management and communication skills.”
Students are not paid for being on the team, but they still dedicate their time to learning and keeping the project going.
“The students are putting [in] a lot of extra effort—hours, hours every week,” Oberholster said. “The students have made good decisions.”