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WUSF News Staff
Thu December 6, 2012
Finance Students + $200K = Real-life Stock Lessons
Like their peers, students in the University of South Florida’s Applied Security Analysis class have homework, quizzes and lectures. But what separates them from the average student are endless hours of research, making presentations in front of seasoned financial professionals, and handling more than $200,000 in real money. No pressure, of course.
After learning about debt, dividends and depreciation, students are given criteria to choose a company to invest in, all with the goal of making a return on their investment.
A few times a semester, students gather their research and pitch their stock picks to a board of advisors. The board is made up of professional asset managers from firms like Morgan Stanley Wealth Management and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
At a recent session, students pitched undervalued stocks they expected would soon rise. After they presented their research on casino resort owner Las Vegas Sands, networking giant CISCO Systems, and video game maker Activision Blizzard, the board grilled them extensively with questions about their findings. In the end, the students and the board agreed to invest in Las Vegas Sands and Activision Blizzard.
Instructor Jack Rader says the program prepares students for a career outside of the university walls. Everything from his hands-off approach to teaching to the critical round of questions from the board of advisors is premeditated as a way to forge professionals.
"You don't get confidence, you earn confidence," Rader said. "When you get up and you make presentations before professionals and they ask you the tough questions and you can answer those questions in a sensible, reasonable, compelling manner, then you're going to come out with a legitimate confidence in what you're capable of doing."