With $100,000 in real money from a private investor, the Fairfield Investment Group is helping Fairfield University students learn about finance firsthand



Image: Student in BEST classroomFor Fairfield University students interested in learning about finance, a club allowing them to invest $100,000 is providing many lessons.

The Fairfield Investment Group (FIG), as the club is called, enables students to manage what was an initial investment of $100,000 supplied by an anonymous investor. With about 40 student members researching stocks and making investment suggestions, FIG has proven to be an opportunity to strengthen trading and analysis skills, prepare for future jobs, and connect with dedicated students and alumni. It has also been a valuable experience in managing people.

The club is completely run by students - mostly from the Dolan School of Business (DSB) - and has a management team that includes a chief executive officer (CEO), a position held by a senior finance major.

Boris Romanovsky '10, the current CEO of FIG, joined the club during his sophomore year after searching for an opportunity that would connect to his finance major and distinguish him after graduation. He will begin a position at Goldman Sachs as an operations analyst later this year.

Romanovsky said he was grateful to FIG faculty advisors, professors Michael Tucker and Walter Hlawitschka. "They let us lead but are always there when we need them," he said. "This method has helped students sharpen their techniques and even learn from mistakes. (The professors) don't mind poor decisions, they mind no decisions."

Throughout the year, FIG assigns students to research companies using the new Bloomberg terminals, which provide up-to-the-minute business and economic news and data. Students then work in teams deciding on what stocks to invest in or divest from. Next, they submit reports and recommendations to fellow student members serving as portfolio managers and executive leaders who vote on whether they should buy, sell, or hold.

"The professors provide advice but that's it," said Dr. Tucker, professor of finance. "The students choose who will be in the group. Those who don't do the work are out."

Fairfield economics majors also play a role by providing an overview of the economy and recommending sectors to invest in.

"I feel so proud when a student presents a report, recommends we buy, and then a month later I'll look at the stock and it's up 15% or 20%," Romanovsky observed. "You've got proof that you've been doing something right."

Granted, it's been a tough time for the stock market, but the students have held their own. "They were outperforming the market and were hit as was everyone," Dr. Tucker said. "Since that time, they have been tracking the market recovery."

In addition to being an opportunity to learn outside the classroom, FIG has other benefits. They include meeting prominent bankers invited to be guest speakers, reunions with past FIG members, and field trips to such businesses as UBS. FIG recently went to Oaktree Capital, a hedge fund in Stamford, for example. There, students met alumnus Frank Carroll '89, the managing director and a member of the DSB Advisory Council.

Romanovsky wants to continue the tradition of helping other Dolan School students when he becomes an alumnus later this month. "The mentoring aspect is what I love the most about the group," he said.

Image: The Fairfield Investment Group (FIG) enables students to manage what was an initial investment of $100,000 supplied by an anonymous investor. Students use the Bloomberg terminals to help research investments.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on May 17, 2010

Vol. 42, No. 295