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In the ultimate model of applied learning, eight Merrimack College students have been managing a robust $118,000 financial portfolio with the launch of the Merrimack Investment Fund – the college's first-ever student-managed investment portfolio.
Overseen by faculty and an executive advisory committee, students execute trades using money in the fund. The experience of dealing with real gains and losses makes visible the connection between theory learned in the classroom and real-world application.
Students recently presented their investment portfolio to the fund’s advisory committee, which includes Merrimack Board of Trustee Paul Mucci, P’07, who generously supplied $100,000 in seed money to start the Merrimack Investment Fund.
“The students run the Merrimack Investment Fund like a regular company, they are very professional and it takes a lot of initiative,” said Mucci. “I’ve always believed that this kind of hands-on learning is very important and after seeing the results thus far, I feel proud of what’s being done here. It makes me feel good about investing in Merrimack, because I know it makes a significant impact.”
The students conduct their investment research in Merrimack’s Mucci Capital Markets Lab, a state-of-the-art facility equipped with 19 Bloomberg terminals where they have access to the latest investment tools. The lab was established through the generosity of Mucci and his wife, Joyce, and named in their honor.
Since its inception in February 2017, the Merrimack Investment Fund has grown into a competitive club that thoroughly prepares students for investment-based professions, and is open to all majors.
Marc Beiga ’18, portfolio manager for the Merrimack Investment Fund, recognizes the incomparable educational and professional value of managing the fund.
“The Merrimack Investment Fund allows students to control real money in a fast-paced environment,” said Beiga. “You either win or lose — there is no in between, we are making money or losing money and that is such a powerful experience to have while still in college. We have unbelievable resources at Merrimack, most notably the Bloomberg terminals and I am very grateful.” In four years, Beiga completed a B.S. in finance, a minor in law and a master’s in management, all while playing for the hockey team.
Students interested in joining the fund first need to participate in the Merrimack Investment Club where they assist in managing a mock portfolio using fictional cash. Once they succeed in that arena, they can apply to be part of the Merrimack Investment Fund. All applicants are interviewed to assess their base knowledge and level of commitment, before being accepted as members. Once in the fund, each student is responsible for a sector such as technology or consumer staples. After extensive research, each member presents a pitch for investing in a company in the assigned sector. The other fund members then take a vote to determine whether the fund will invest in the company that was pitched.
Mary Papazian, managing director of Mucci Capital Markets Lab and faculty advisor for the fund, mentored the students through equity reports, stock pitches and investment decisions. “These students are the real founders of this fund and it will be their legacy,” said Papazian. “In addition to honing financial skills, the students improve presentation skills, team work and time management since participants are managing the fund in addition to a full academic workload.”
Catherine Usoff, Ph.D., dean of Girard School of Business recognized the commitment it takes to get a project of this magnitude off the ground. “The Investment Fund provides an incredible opportunity for our students to not only develop technical finance skills, but also to practice essential workplace skills like communication and public speaking that are in high demand by employers. I applaud the generosity of our donors and the hard work and dedication of our faculty and students.”
Moving forward, the students are looking to grow the Merrimack Investment Fund program by increasing the number of student participants taking equity and bond analyst roles, attracting more donations to increase the size of the fund, and participating in competitions with other student-managed funds.
In the interest of expanding the fund, Merrimack — in collaboration with Paul Mucci — launched a challenge campaign to inspire donors to match Mucci’s $100,000 within one year of the fund’s kick-off. For those interested in participating in the matching campaign for Merrimack Investment Fund, contact Ryan Irwin, Assistant Vice President, Office of Development and Alumni Relations at Irwinr@merrimack.edu or 978–837–3475.
Merrimack Investment Fund Advisory Committee: Eugene M. Bullis, a retired senior financial executive; Amanda M Gillman ’09, director, balance sheet and analysis group at Sandler O’Neill and Partners, L.P.; Paul L. Mucci P’07, retired financial executive and Merrimack Board of Trustee member; and Basil A. Stewart, chief financial officer and senior vice president for finance and administration for Merrimack College.