By: DJ Fradkin, Transcript correspondent
Ohio Wesleyan University offers an investment club, allowing students to explore the world of investing and finance by participating in the stock market with no real fear of loss.
The Investment Club is a student managed investment fund comprised currently of 18 equities that are traded on the New York Stock Exchange, said sophomore Graham Littlehale, president of the Investment Club.
The club was founded to expose students who wish to learn more about investing in the stock market. The club provides an opportunity for students to receive investment experience without risking their own money, Littlehale said.
“I have learned enough that I feel as though I could start my own stock portfolio,” Littlehale said. “I would say that anyone who is an active member for a year and has a basic understanding of accounting, should be able to start their own portfolio.”
OWU received a one-time $50,000 grant in 1998 from Jim Oelschlager, founder and chairman of Oaks Associates, designated for students to gain real life experience in trading stocks. The university receives five percent of the portfolio at the end of each calendar year, according to the Ohio Wesleyan Investment Club.
Generally, the club meets or exceeds the investing benchmark. One problem that occurred a few years ago was due to holding a large position in cash. The club did not invest their cash soon enough when market went up, Barbara MacLeod, professor of management, said.
“This year we did very well; we happened to own Kraft when the announcement of a merger came out. That day the stock went up 35 percent,” MacLeod said. “Sometimes you just win, sometimes you lose.”
“The numbers have been increasing and the sophistication of the discussion has really improved,” MacLeod said. “I don’t want the club to lose money, but I let the students make decisions that I might not make in order to further their education, and this has done very well at that goal.”
To encourage students to become more involved in the organization, or just for educational purposes, professor MacLeod also offers a quarter credit course in the fall called Investment Practicum. It provides students with the skills to analyze equities, MacLeod said.
While there are no formal requirements for joining the club, background knowledge is helpful. The organization currently meets Tuesdays from 4:10-5:00 p.m. in the Corns Building. The club president runs almost all of the meetings, but other members are encouraged to assist, Littlehale said.
“Some people, as in life, are more verbal than others, so we are a safe place for people who do not have a background in investing,” MacLeod said. “We meet in the Corns computer lab so we can all be looking up information and answering questions.”
Students generally attend more meetings in the fall, when around 20 members usually participate. However, the spring semester usually sees anywhere between 10 to 15 students. Students also tend to fall off at the end of the semester, MacLeod said.
“Instituted this last year, students have to attend two club meetings before they are allowed to vote, so there are more educated voters to determine whether we should buy or sell a stock,” Macleod said.