March 8, 2013

Students Make Valuable Investments at Financial Trading Center

 VALDOSTA – “Learning to invest is like learning a foreign language,” said Dr. Aktas, associate professor of finance in Valdosta State University’s Langdale College of Business Administration (LCOBA). “It is important that anyone who wants to invest gets the proper exposure and familiarity with the market conditions.”

Students at Valdosta State can get this type of exposure as part of the investment group, which manages a diversified portfolio in the university’s Financial Trading Center (FTC). The FTC, located in Thaxton Hall on North Campus, is the only one on a university campus in the state that allows students to use real money for trading. It is also one of a few trading centers located in the southern region of the United States.

The trading center officially opened in November 2011, during which time, Southeastern Federal Credit Union presented a check for $50,000 for the center. The investment group began purchasing securities in April 2012.

 “We are constantly monitoring the portfolio to see opportunities/needs for modification based on the market conditions,” said Aktas. The goal is to maintain a very conservative, very diversified portfolio. We are not trying to get high returns by taking high risks.”

Aktas explained that the process works just like a mutual fund, with fund managers as well as managers and junior managers for each sector. Aktas and Dr. William Buchanan, associate professor of finance, serve as advisors.

“There is a lot of interaction between the managers, Dr. Buchanan and me because running a portfolio is a 20-hour-a-day job,” said Aktas. “The students have the opportunity to see securities they bought and how they appreciate or depreciate over time.”

So far, the group has purchased 30 different securities from every sector.

“This experience is invaluable for a student because they know they are working with real money and get to make decisions and look at the effects of their decisions,” said Aktas. “Sometimes they feel accomplished and sometimes there are disappointments. They understand that part of trading is risky, especially with such a volatile economy.”

The students in the group make all of the decisions regarding securities, but only Aktas and Buchanan have access to the trading account. The VSU Foundation controls the money.

“I cannot stress enough the difference in the eyes, posture and talk of my students who get involved in this verses those who do not,” said Aktas. “They are really confident because they realize they are part of a real experience. They are not talking about some formula they learned in a textbook. They are talking about a real experience. This is something that I cannot provide them in years of classroom instruction. I cannot thank Dean Wayne Plumly enough because he was very active in securing the money for us to trade.”

Next month nine students from the investment group will travel to New York to attend the Quinnipiac Global Asset Management Education Forum III. The group hopes to actually present its portfolio and compete with other schools there next year.

Any student, regardless of major, at VSU can become an active member of the investment group. The group meets every Tuesday at 5 p.m. in the FTC.

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