Students in Rowan business class watch stocks soar
If you had $100,000 to invest, would you buy Apple at $600 a share or a little-known company from Utah called Zagg at $10?
Business students at Rowan University used $60,000 and chose both, along with a thoroughly vetted collection of stocks in health care, energy, financial services, utilities, consumer goods and manufacturing.
Zagg got the nod because it designs, manufactures and distributes covers, protective wraps and accessories for cellphones, iPads and other consumer electronics. Nobody, it seems, buys one without the other.
Since April 2011, that $60,000 investment of real money has grown 11 percent. Now the class is pondering what to do with the remaining $40,000.
“It’s been a very good year,” said Jia Wang, a finance professor at Rowan about her students’ post-recession gains. “By digging deeper, they found Zagg, which has yielded a 33 percent return because just about everybody who buys a touch screen of some kind buys a cover.”
Students in Wang’s class have the best of all worlds. The room is equipped with real-time Bloomberg computers and a digital, Technicolor stock ticker speeds across the wall. A four-way panel displays the global markets by sector, country, GDP, stock exchange or whatever means Wang chooses to illustrate a lesson.
The best part for these 20-somethings is they get to invest real money from the William G. Rohrer Charitable Foundation.
Once the $100,000 seed money grows by $25,000, the university expects to use the profits for financial aid for students.
“This is real cash and we take this class very seriously,” said Greg Finn, 22, who plans to go to graduate school. Whether he pursues a career in finance or not, he said lessons learned for managing his own money are worth their weight in gold.
A popular spot for students even when class is not in session, the trading room was financed with a $120,000 donation that was spearheaded by two Rowan alumni.
Twin brothers Andy and Scott Schwartz graduated from Rowan as marketing majors in 1984. Originally from Willingboro, the brothers are now financial advisers in Fairfield and members of the Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, which provided matching funds.
“We thought this would be a wonderful opportunity for the school,” said Andy Schwartz. “It’s great for Rowan to be able to expose their students to this and it’s a great way for us to possibly cultivate some associates. We’re interested in smart kids who really know how to work.”
Many business schools in the region, such as St. Joseph’s, Temple and the College of New Jersey, have installed stock tickers, but trading with real money on Bloomberg’s real-time computers is state of the art, said Niranjan Pati, dean of Rowan’s College of Business.
Rowan spends about $60,000 a year on data and maintenance of the computers. Included in the package is on-site instruction from Bloomberg representatives. Finance students say they are eager to become certified Bloomberg users because it gives them an edge in job hunting.
“We are teaching disciplined, theory-based investment here,” said Pati. “We hope to show how to differentiate between sound companies and those that shine once in a while. This is a time for education, not for making money. Our job is also to encourage students to invest in socially responsible companies, not just the greedy ones.”
In order to maximize the use of the trading room, Pati hopes to open it up for tours by high school students and to interface in some way with the financial community in South Jersey. Faculty are also working on a week-long summer camp for youth interested in dollars and cents.
Dressed in jeans and a T-shirt during class this week, Tom Austin said he is ready for some “snappy suits.”
The suits come with a job and Austin will be ready to work in May when he graduates with majors in finance and entrepreneurship. INC Financial Partners hired Austin, 22, to work on straight commission from their Philadelphia office earlier this year.
“This is perfect for me. I’ve got good hustle and I’m an entrepreneur at heart. I hope I can help people retire without running out of money,” said Austin, who puts in “at least 10 hours a week” as CFO of Rowan’s student government.
His partner in finance, Bryan Pitman, also a high achiever, isn’t sure if he will remain in his part-time job with Morgan Stanley Consulting in Mount Laurel or head to graduate school.
“Everybody doesn’t need to be a trader on the New York Stock Exchange or an analyst or a CPA. There are lots of options,” said Pitman, 23, who is president of a financial management club within the university.
Regardless of the choice, Pitman said that all finance jobs have a common denominator.
“When you’re dealing with people’s money, there will always be stress,” he said. “Better count on it.”
|Date Published:||Thursday, April 5, 2012 - 11:29|