Alum Funds Start-up Student Investment Club

Less than a year ago, the Finance Club was not even an idea. Today, the club has 13 members who manage $25,000 in investments, club president Alex Johnson reports.
By Alex J. Johnson ’16 | Accounting & Business Management
School of Business & Management

October 22, 2014

It’s remarkable to think that just a year ago, the Finance Club, of which I am president, was nothing—not even an idea. Today, the club stands strong with a roster of 13 loyal members and a fund of $25,000 to invest with. In less than one year, myself and Ben Fertich (Business Management—Finance ’16) shared a vision and ran with it. We haven’t looked back since and are only growing and improving.

The club came about after a field trip to New York City with Professor Alex Chung (School of Business, Finance Club Advisor). It was a long ride back and myself, Ben and Prof. Chung were talking about the markets and general finance news. Prof. Chung lamented the lack of a Finance Club on campus. Ben and I liked the idea and nodded at each other, thinking it was a cool notion but nothing more. A week before Christmas break, Ben and I began talking about a Norwich finance club really being a possibility. Even if it eventually failed, we thought, at least we could learn a few things in the process. We sat down one day for chow and just brainstormed what the club could be. We gathered the necessary documents and used Christmas break as an opportunity to get the forms and materials in order to get a running start second semester. We came back from break, and within three weeks we set up our first meeting.

Along the way, we met two future club officers. We certainly could not have accomplished everything that we did without them. Austin Surowiec and Erik Lyrvall helped us create the backbone of the club. Between myself, Ben, Austin and Erik, we began to envision where the club could go. We thought that we would wait awhile before asking the school for any money as we wanted to prove ourselves through market simulators and club participation. After our first few meetings, club attendance was already around 10 members and growing each time. With the guidance of Prof. Chung, the officers of the club decided to write the CFO of Norwich University, Lauren Wobby, and ask for a small amount of money to invest. I believe the initial amount was a low as $10,000, and it was Ms. Wobby who suggested we solicit more, adding that she would task the development office to solicit Norwich alumni who might want to bankroll the club. It was fantastic news, and we could not believe how well our ambitions were received, and that our first installment would be as much as $25,000. In the meantime, we continued to use simulators to track our “investments” and work our portfolio allocation and strategy.

Interactive Learning

The officers constructed each meeting to cover a different subject that the group wanted to review. Each week the topics would vary, from the weekly market and news to financial ratios and different types of funds. It was a very interactive learning process. While hosting these club meetings, the officers worked hard setting the framework for the club and establishing its future. As spring waned and summer approached, our group meetings began to wind down, and the club focused more on obtaining a fund to invest with. We heard no official word until mid-summer, when we learned the club was to receive a gift of $25,000 from a gracious alumnus in the Class of 1964.

As of this moment, the club is finalizing the paperwork and smaller details about the fund. But we are writing our investing policy statement for the fund and setting up the allocation percentages for the $25,000. I can’t put into words the experience this has been. The work has been nothing but worth it. Every week the officers and I are trying to learn as much as we can to help the club as much as we can and learn so that we can invest as wisely as possible. However, to have the chance to manage a fund of $25,000 is incredible and such a worthwhile experience. The amount I have learned from the club is second to none.

As a final note, personally I cannot thank Prof. Chung, Ms. Wobby and our generous alumnus enough for all their help. None of this would be possible without their support and hard work!