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Catawba’s student-managed investment fund dives into Wall Street

After reading “The Best Book on Investment Banking Careers,” Jevgenij Gamper (Class of 2016), realized his career goals made it absolutely necessary that he stand out in his academic pursuits. 

As a student-athlete, this Lithuanian national who is double majoring in mathematics and economics & finance at Catawba College, decided he needed a working laboratory for his studies.

As a result, Gamper came up with the idea to create a Student Managed Investment Fund (SMIF) at Catawba so he and his fellow students could learn how to handle investments in an actual market and gain real world experience before graduating. Such an organization would provide hands-on experience in managing an investment portfolio and a deeper practical understanding of the overlapping fields of mathematics, economics and finance.

During the spring semester of 2014, Gamper, along with fellow Catawba students Rafal Baran and Josh Hill, approached Drs. Kenneth Clapp and Eric Hake with their plan, seeking mentoring and advice on how best to proceed with launching the SMIF. Gamper then sought out other schools and individuals that had created similar investment groups, asking for advice and best practices. After much work, he created a draft program that was then presented to the Catawba College board of trustees for their approval. 

In the process, the nascent group began receiving several start-up donations and gifts, including gifts from Trustee Richard J. “Dick” Seiwell ’67 and Dr. Clapp ’70. 

With the approval of the fund concept, the SMIF received a trial use of the Bloomberg financial software which allows market information to be readily available to Catawba students. After that, the SMIF went about getting everything in order to open an investing portfolio with Scott Trade, as an entity recently approved for trading. Now Catawba students can actually begin investing into the market and see a return. Any returns are reinvested to boost the capital growth of the overall SMIF. Future plans include allowing earnings to the fund to be used to provide student scholarships.

Students already involved with the SMIF have been able to receive informative career advice from firms such as Wall Street Oasis and J.P. Morgan. Several members of the fund attended the Annual Forecasting Dinner of the CFA-NC in Charlotte, which hosted 300-plus specialists and provided the students with an excellent way to network with those already in the industry. More and more students are becoming interested in the SMIF because it helps them see real-world applications of the theories and concepts they are learning, while simultaneously gaining hands-on experience as an investor. 

For those interested in supporting SMIF, donations can be made directly to Catawba College, designating SMIF as the recipient, and mailed to the Development Office, 2300 W. Innes St., Salisbury, NC 28144.  For more information about SMIF, follow on Twitter at @SMIFcatawba or visit the webpage at www.catawba.edu/smif.

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