November 16, 2006

SIUC students gain real investment experience

by Sun Min

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Business students at Southern Illinois University Carbondale are finding out early that lessons learned in the classroom are truly marketable.

College of Business and Administration students actively manage the Saluki Student Investment Fund. Created in 2000, the SSIF is a $225,000 portfolio that gives students hands-on experience as they invest in real dollar accounts.

The fund consists of two managed portfolios: the CoBA Portfolio, named after the college, and the SIU Foundation Portfolio. The CoBA Portfolio began with an initial investment of $25,000 from Omar and Carol Winter. CoBA has discretion over the use of this account. The SIU Foundation Portfolio began with an initial investment of $200,000 made on June 5, 2000. The SIU Foundation owns this account.

Since its inception, the CoBA Portfolio has grown to about $40,000, for a return of 60 percent. The Foundation Portfolio has grown to about $260,000, for a return of 30 percent.

"In view of the fact that most of the students enter the program with little investment experience, I would characterize their performance as eminently good," said Mark A. Peterson, associate professor of finance and faculty advisor to the fund.

Aside from picking stocks and funds the students write up results and make presentations on their performance. Therefore, students gain practical investment management experience and acquire a professional level of written and oral communication skills.

"The main thing I have learned from all of this is how to interact with people and time management skills," said Brett A. Stehl of St. Libory (811 First North St.), a senior majoring in finance.

Stehl will take those skills and pursue a career as a financial advisor so he "can help people achieve financial freedom," he said.

For Stehl and fellow students, this experience should increase their placement opportunities. "Ultimately, participation in this activity gives them an advantage over the typical graduate in searching for employment," Peterson said.

Peterson said the students will learn lessons that last a lifetime.

"Most college graduates will work for several employers over their careers. In saving for their retirement they will be constantly faced with investment decisions. The experience with (the fund) provides them with a head start on how to invest — experience they will use for the next 40 to 50 years," he said.

For more information about the fund, visit

Achieving excellence in undergraduate and graduate education is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.