For the past five years, undergraduate students from adjunct professor Joe Rinaldi’s Futures, Options and Derivatives class at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business have attended the Barron’s Roundtable to rub elbows with some of the top investors in the country.
This year, six students attended the conference, titled “The Art of Successful Investing” on October 21, 2013 at the Metropolitan Club in New York City:
- Stefan Iacono, senior, finance and accounting
- Hrach Kelejian, senior, finance
- Katie Bialy, senior, finance
- Lee Whitney, senior, finance and accounting
- Kyle DiPeppe, senior, finance
- Ryan Phillips, senior, finance and information systems
Just days after the U.S. Government narrowly avoided defaulting on its debt, the investors were nonetheless confident about opportunities in the global marketplace. Greg Valliere, chief political strategist at Potomac Research, said in his keynote that current politics in Washington will not affect investors on Wall Street.
Attending the roundtable gave the students an opportunity to hear from, and network with, other such luminaries of the investment industry including Ed Finn, editor and president, Barron’s; Scott Black, founder, Delphi Management; and Felix Zulauf, founding partner, Zulauf Asset Management.
“I was definitely inspired by the intelligence of these investors and it motivates me to keep doing my research on the markets and the companies I invest in,” said Bialy. “Since this is a male dominated field, it was also encouraging for me to hear from a woman investor, Meryl Witmer [General Partner at Eagle Capital Partners and a Director at Berkshire Hathaway Inc.]… It was very inspiring to hear her speak with such depth …”
The trip to Barron’s is among the popular experiential learning opportunities for undergraduate finance students at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. While 30 out of the 50 students in Rinaldi’s class were keen to go, the program is highly competitive. Minimum selection criteria include a 3.6 GPA and relevant professional experience in the financial industry. Between them, the students selected have interned at GE Asset Management, Morgan Stanley, Deloitte and UBS to name a few firms.
Students Draft White Paper
Upon returning, the students produced a white paper to share with their classmates what they learned from roundtable.
“The application of financial concepts learned in the classroom is much different when implementing them in the marketplace,” said Whitney. “There is a greater emphasis on macro-economic policies that ultimately drive the valuation methodologies of the professionals that spoke at the roundtable.”
“Developing my macro- economic outlook is something that I will spend time on in the future to supplement my learning of the financial industry, and I hope to express the importance of doing so to my peers, Whitney added.
Even the professional connections are shared amongst the class, as the lucky students pool the business cards they’ve collected from willing investors into a database. This database then serves as a class resource for professional connections which may lead to internships and full-time positions.
“The class will have the opportunity to network and get insight from individuals from companies such as CBOE, Dow Jones, Barron’s, and J.P. Morgan just to name a few” said Bialy.
The “The Art of Successful Investing” trip is a transformational experience for some students, as they come to end of their tenure at the University of Maryland.
Kelejian reflected on his experience: “Barron's has given me the opportunity to participate and learn straight from the market legends. By attending [the conference] I am able and confident to stay on top of all market emerging trends. It was a very productive and remarkable event where I enjoyed networking with investors and money managers from different companies and countries … The way I view my career goals and objectives has been strongly influenced and shaped by the priceless opportunities and knowledge that I am reaping from the Futures, Options, and Derivatives class.”
Kelejian’s participation resulted through unusual circumstances that reflected his passion and persistence. Having made the top 10, but not selected for the final group, he intended to fund his own trip. However, Barron’s stepped in and invited Kelejian as their guest. The gesture demonstrated the goodwill that Rinaldi and the Smith School have built with the roundtable organizers.
“This year the President of Barron’s, Mr. Finn, mentioned the students, their achievements, why they were picked, and thanked the Robert H. Smith School of Business for the ‘wonderful strategic and academic alliance that we have developed with Barron’s,’” said Rinaldi. “It’s truly a win for the university, Barron’s and the students.”
- Andrew Kneale, MBA Candidate 2015, Office of Marketing Communications