UNC Kenan-Flagler is known for experiential learning, but a hidden gem is the Applied Investment Management (AIM) class where MBA and selected Undergraduate Business students manage a $2 million investment fund in a yearlong class.
“We try to model the same functions you would find in an investment management firm,” says Marc Simons, professor of the practice of finance.
The class is co-managed by Simons and Mustafa Gültekin, associate professor of finance. After spending 35 years in the financial services industry Simons is a valuable resource to the students, while Gültekin brings a quantitative researcher’s perspective and continuity to the class.
Students are assigned specific roles and responsibilities and collaborate on decisions regarding investments in the fund. These assigned roles include; portfolio manager, domestic and global strategist, risk/compliance manager, securities trader, sector analyst and coordinator of investor relations.
Each student is responsible for a specific industry sector and is expected to stay abreast of stories, trends and events that could present investment opportunities for the fund. Students are trained to evaluate both quantitative and qualitative factors in their research and analysis when recommending a proposed investment. Throughout the course, they complete three research reports accompanied by a 15-minute presentation to the class after which the class collectively approves or disapproves a proposed investment idea.
The class is also overseen by an independent advisory board of AIM alumni and industry practitioners which meets twice a year. Students prepare an investment report and presentation to the board, similar to an actual presentation to investment clients.
“We are very focused on making sure that the class is relevant and prepares our students with the tools, background and confidence they need to secure a position in the investment industry.” says Simons.
As part of a new initiative, students are also given the opportunity to be paired with a mentor working in an investment management firm.
In addition to students who are looking for careers in investment management, the class could be of interest to finance students wanting to gain a deeper understanding of evaluating companies and industries. “Investment bankers value companies in a very similar fashion to how we look at companies,” says Simons, “so there is some overlap that could interest students in finance who have not previously considered a class in investment management.”
Students are encouraged to apply in the spring to participate in the start of the next AIM program in the fall.
“For me, the best part about this class is that it is practical in nature and the students are directly involved in the curriculum being taught,” says Luv Sodha (MBA ’18). “Imagine having this kind of freedom to learn. It happens at UNC Kenan Flagler and it happens right here in the Applied Investment Management class”.