With stocks declining, finance students find magic answer

12/16/2008 - By: Jon Fortenbury

Despite stocks declining 41 percent, the stock portfolio for this semester’s Finance 430 class — a University course where students invest real money into the stock market — only went down 11 percent.

“The students in the class paid a great deal of attention to what was going on and they were very motivated,” said Gregory Stone, professor of Finance 430.

Jack McLeod, a wealth benefactor who runs Nevada McLeod Group with his family, gave the University $100,000 a few years ago for this course. For any money the class gains, McLeod donates it to the University. If the University loses money, McLeod makes up the difference.

The money distributed among about 22 students remains in complete control of the students. The class’s portfolio this semester consisted of 29 stocks. Brian Fusco, a student in the class, felt using real money motivated the class to be more responsible, one factor that led to good results in the stock market.

“With fake money, you really don’t care if it goes away or what happens with your portfolio and you can also take all the risk in the world,” said Fusco, who graduated earlier this month in finance and economics. “With real money, you’re less risk averse and want to try to make money so you really do the research.”

Stone thought the students investing real money provided them a great learning experience that gave them a better idea of how investing works.

“It’s an opportunity that not very many state universities get,” Stone said.

Making this course possible, McLeod says he’s very pleased he and his family can help contribute to the students and the University. McLeod learned many years ago how important it is for more experienced investors to help those just starting out.

“The business school is doing a great job educating the students and I’m just honored I can help,” McLeod said.


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