Ideas with Impact
UNB Faculty of Management

UNB Business Students Outperform Professional Money Managers

Author: Liz Lemon-Mitchell

Posted on Apr 22, 2009

Category: CFS

A group of investment finance students at the University of New Brunswick have achieved impressive returns on their portfolio of nearly $2 million in spite of the turbulent global financial environment. While stories of bank failures, Ponzi schemes and catastrophic financial losses in the financial markets dominated the news in 2008, student investors in the University of New Brunswick's Student Investment Fund program significantly outperformed professional money managers during the year.

Students in the program began investing real money in the capital markets in 1998 with the allocation of $1 million from program partner the New Brunswick Investment Management Corporation. By October 2006 the Fund had surpassed $2 million solely from investment returns, by mid-2008 $2.5 million with a subsequent return to roughly $2 million by yearend reflecting global market volatility.

The student-managed fund enjoyed its best results ever in 2008 outperforming many professional asset managers including pension plans and endowment funds. Program director Prof. Glenn Cleland is impressed with the portfolio performance over the ten-year period since its inception. This is no coincidence. The students have successfully navigated the markets over a ten-year period.

We started up the program investing real money in September 1998 during turbulent times in financial markets stemming from the collapse of Long Term Capital Management. Over the subsequent ten years, student investment decisions were made with the backdrop of the technology bubble, the sub-prime mortgage crisis, US$145 oil prices and the current financial meltdown.

The students abilities extend well beyond their impressive portfolio management skills. The students have a long and distinguished record of success at investment competitions. Last year, a team of students from the program placed first in the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute's North American valuation competition in New York City and, was subsequently ranked second in the world in the Institute's Global Investment Research competition in May 2008. If there was ever any doubt that SIF students could compete on a global basis it was erased by this achievement.

Nathan Ough, a current student in the Student Investment Fund program, speaks highly of the hands-on investment learning experience. The record speaks for itself. Over the past ten years students who have been accepted into this demanding program have developed a skillset that is highly sought after by the financial sector. The integration of theory and practice provides a knowledge base which has contributed to our ten years of outperformance.

The Student Investment Fund was the first student-managed fund in Atlantic Canada, one of a few in Canada, and unique in North America. Its market neutral equity portfolio construction approach combined with an embedded study program for the Chartered Financial Analyst Level I exam making it leading edge.

The SIF is offered through UNB's Centre for Financial Studies in the faculty of business administration.