Ideas with Impact
UNB Faculty of Management

A year of challenges and opportunities: Student Investment Fund update

Author: Faculty of Management

Posted on Oct 26, 2020

Category: Student Investment Fund

It’s been an unprecedented year for the University of New Brunswick’s Student Investment Fund (SIF), full of surprises, challenges and new opportunities. Things were going well for the 2019-20 year. Just before the March Break, the SIF and MQIM students journeyed to Toronto for their annual visit with alumni and senior executives in the finance district; then the Covid-19 pandemic happened. The University closed the campus on March 13 and suspended all classes. Classes resumed on the 23rd via MS Teams and other virtual platforms like D2L Brightspace, thanks to the university’s Centre for Enhanced Teaching and Learning and IT Service. Suddenly the SIF became a virtual undertaking.

The team working with the students included instructors Don Wishart (Director of the Centre for Financial Studies), Dean Culligan (Vice President, Finance and Revenue with SimpTek Technologies); and Program Officer Keagan Marcus. When the pandemic hit, some components of the course had to change, but the team continued to focus on teaching students the essentials of investing in a live setting in partnership with Vestcor and SEAMARK investment managers. They also continued to prepare students for the CFA Level One. In May, the Centre for Financial Studies hosted an end-of-year event to report on the performance of the SIF fund and other highlights of the year. Here is a synopsis of their report:

Fund Performance

The pandemic provided a very interesting classroom for students to be learning about investing. Working from home they did not have remote access to Bloomberg, so were not able to contribute to the SIF portfolio directly. Instead, they focused on individual sector and company analyses and were asked to decide whether they wanted to stick with their bets from the previous semester or make other recommendations. It was interesting to see how they analyzed the impact of this black swan event on their respective sectors.

The students made long/short calls on companies in assigned sectors from the TSX60 with Vestcor's assistance. At the end of April, the long/short equity portfolio was worth $2,254,000. The long/short bets made a 35 basis point contribution relative to performance of the TSX60. The SEAMARK equity portfolio was worth $5,432,000 and by the end of May it further recovered to $5,645,000. This leaves the overall total of the SIF about $100,000 less than the $8 million reported at the end of the previous year.


Because of the pandemic, the CFA leadership decided to delay the June 2020 Level One exam; the SIF students will write it in December 2020. In January 2020 the CFA Institute decided to offer the Level One exam a few times during the year at different test centres, so the CFS is considering this opportunity to support students to write the exam when they are ready.

Experiential Exercises

Once again SIF students were invited to experience the world of investing through field trips, competitions and networking. Additionally, a new internship opportunity was created.

  • Students completed their annual field trip to Toronto’s finance district just days before the pandemic brought an end to all travel and public gatherings. Altogether, 24 SIF and MQIM students participated, which was the largest group UNB has ever sent on this excursion. They met with several alumni and investment leaders, including Tom Liston, Board Director, Well Health Technologies Corp; Colin Ryan, Managing Director at National Bank Financial, and eight other and practitioners, including Honourable Frank McKenna, Deputy Chair, TD Group. Their journey concluded with the faculty of management alumni gathering where they met with over 75 business alumni who attended.
  • Following tradition, students participated in investment competitions which included the CFA Research Challenge, Rotman, MATLAB, Chicago Quantitative Alliance (CQA), and Ben Graham Value Investment Challenges. The CQA team placed 8th out 35 teams around the world, while the MATLAB team placed 3rd out of 58. In addition to providing students great opportunities to network with other business students and investment practitioners, these types of exercises continue to help students test their knowledge and build marketable skills. Ngozi Babs-Adewumi, one of the SIF students in the MATLAB team, said “the competition broadened my knowledge of financial risk analysis and management, and I recommend the competition highly to anyone interested in financial risk management.” (Babs-Adewumi is one of the MQIM students who completed the SIF as an elective.)
  • Other experiential activities included the Bridge to Capital Markets program that connects investment students in Atlantic Canada with Investment firms, and projects with UNB’s Investment Committee. Harsh Jain, a student in the MQIM program who completed the SIF for his course electives, served as student representative with the committee and completed a research project on Active versus Passive investing, and assembled information to facilitate a report on asset allocation.
  • New to the SIF this year was an internship opportunity provided by Ocean Capital Investments, based in Saint John, New Brunswick. Chantel Pearce was the inaugural intern.

Industry involvement

A key component of experiential learning for SIF students is the opportunity to meet with industry leaders who share their expertise and advice on career strategies. Brian Bagnell (Commodities Analyst, Macquarie) visited the SIF class a few times during the school year to share practical advice. One of his lectures focused on how to write and structure research reports. Other guest speakers who met with the class included:

  • Kevin Thomas (CEO, SHARE) - Socially Responsible Investing
  • Heather Hurshman (VP, Portfolio Manager at Placements, Louisbourg Investments) - Corporate Bond investing
  • Anne-Marie Gammon (CEO, CPA Atlantic School) and Terri Cugno (VP, Institutional Portfolio Manager, Philips Hager & North) - Careers for Women in Finance
  • David Wishart (Director & Wholesale Liquidity Research and Adjudication, RBC) - Treasury Management in a major bank

Additionally, the students joined classes hosted by faculty of management Executives-in-Residence Paul Owens (Deputy Superintendent of Pensions, Government of Alberta), Ng Pock Too (Chair and CEO of New Board Technology Ptd Ltd), and Michael Tsamaz (CEO, OTE Group).

Despite the disruption, the SIF students were able to adapt and use much of the experience to understand how the markets react to world events.

Fourth year BBA student, Ruthfi Azzahra, said the SIF helped prepare her for an internship with Montreal based PSP Investment where she is currently working as an Infrastructure Analyst.

“The SIF exposed me to valuation methods and taught me to prepare my own investment recommendations. My favorite part of the course was meeting various investment professionals and learning first-hand from their experience. With these experiences, I was fortunate to be able to land a full-time offer from PSP Investments after graduation.”

For more information about the Student Investment Fund, contact Don Wishart, Director of the Centre for Financial Studies, or Harsh Jain, Program Officer.

Photo: Pre-COVID-19 pandemic, Brian Bagnell visited UNB as Executive-in-Residence with the Student Investment Fund. Here he is (front row centre) with Dr. Devashis Mitra, Dean and members of the Student Investment Fund class.