Concordia College’s Offut School of Business is laying the groundwork for an investment club, planned to kick off next fall, that will allow students to invest an initial $100,000 donation in financial securities.
“Any time you have a real world experience, it’s so much better than book learning,” said Steve Scheel, CEO of Scheel’s Sporting Goods and the donor whose $100,000 gift made the organization possible.
“Nothing like this has ever happened for us before,” said Greg Cant, dean of the Offut School of Business. “This donation shows a personal belief in what we’re doing.”
The club will function as two competing investment funds that will each begin with an equal amount of capital, which they will then place in investments of their choosing.
The funds will be mostly student led, he said. There will be an organizational structure where a student fund manager will run his or her fund and each student will carry out specific roles.
For instance, accounting majors can conduct oversight, economics majors can keep track of changes in the economic environment and finance students will likely manage the two competing funds, Cant said.
Should the two funds perform well, there will be a donor-provided cash prize given to the winning fund, distributed to the team by the fund manager, he said. The prize is meant to function as a bonus would in a professional investment fund.
“[Scheel] wants the fund managers to assume the responsibility as if they were actually working in an investment company,” said economics and finance professor Scot Stradley.
Scheel places considerable emphasis on the importance of practical experience.
“Students can work with money in theory,” Scheel said, “but there’s nothing like the real thing.”
Another place to which the capital gains could go would be a scholarship fund for finance majors, said senior Zach Schnitzler, who is helping to get the club up and running.
Right now, Schnitzler said, most of the work is being focused on researching companies for potential investments.
“One of the biggest problems people have with investing is that they don’t do enough research,” said sophomore finance major Matt Gantz.
As a check on the quality of the investments the students pick, there will be an alumni advisory board comprised of former Cobbers with experience in investing that will assess the decisions.
“If things go well, we’ll make this an annual gift,” Scheel said.
Scheel, a 1969 graduate of St. Olaf, said he makes a conscious effort to follow in his father’s footsteps by giving to his local community.
“When we do well in business, we can do good in the community,” he said.
Scheel is not the only one interested in the initiative.
“If we do this well, there are others who will give us further support,” Cant said. “They like to see students doing real-life things with real consequences.”
Though senior finance majors may head the funds, “we want other students to come participate in the process,” Cant said. Any interested Concordia student from any major may play a role.
“We want it open,” he continued. “There are bright students all across this campus.”
In addition to taking advantage of the college’s intellectual capital, Cant said, the ultimate objective of the club is educational.
“We want great opportunities for students,” he said. “Our goal is to improve everyone’s understanding of global capital markets.”
Cant commented that often students do not realize that after they graduate they will likely have the opportunity and means to invest in the not-so-distant future. He said that the skills learned in the club will help students personally, business major or not.
Jacob Amos is the Opinions Editor and Business Manager of The Concordian. From Stillwater, MN and fresh off a semester abroad in China, he is a senior economics and math major interested in politics, business strategy, and financial markets.