Student Investment Fund Conference Offers Opportunity to Learn and Network

Four young men and a woman pose for a photo in front of a sign for a conference
Adjunct faculty member Daniele Parravano, center, accompanied Manning School of Business students, from left, Wilton Ortega, Matthew Almeida, Olivia Hebert and Anirban Dasgupta to the Student Managed Investment Fund Consortium Conference in Chicago.

By Ed Brennen

For the past 15 years, UMass Lowell finance students have been putting their portfolio management skills to the test in the Student Managed Fund challenge, an investment competition against teams from the Amherst, Boston and Dartmouth campuses that is sponsored by the UMass Foundation.

With hundreds of U.S. colleges and universities hosting similar teams, Indiana State University launched the Student Managed Investment Fund Consortium (SMIFC) in 2013 as a way for students to exchange ideas, network and build community.

Four Manning School of Business students — senior Olivia Hebert, junior Anirban Dasgupta and sophomores Wilton Ortega and Matthew Almeida — recently attended the ninth annual SMIFC Conference in Chicago. They were accompanied by adjunct faculty member Daniele Parravano.

Featuring insights from finance industry experts, the two-day conference drew more than 280 students and faculty from 50 colleges and universities.

“I had a blast learning as much as I could about today’s portfolio management and investing industries,” says Ortega, who is from Methuen, Massachusetts. “But most importantly, I got to network with individuals from schools around the country.”

Herbert enjoyed hearing from professionals about the use of derivatives (a security with a price that is derived from one or more underlying assets) in investment fund management.

“It was gratifying to be able to follow along with the trends and terminology they referred to throughout their presentations,” says Hebert, a Lowell native. “It brought what I had learned in the classroom to life.”

Almeida says he was “beyond grateful” to attend the conference in Chicago with his fellow members of the Finance Society and Real Estate Network Association. 

“I had a blast learning as much as I could about today’s portfolio management and investing industries.” -Business major Wilton Ortega on SMIFC Conference
“I made connections with students from across the country, and we shared insights about our clubs and classes,” says Almeida, who is from North Andover, Massachusetts.

In addition to the UMass Student Managed Fund challenge, several Manning School students — including Dasgupta — participated in the Bloomberg Trading Challenge for the first time last year. They ended up finishing 39th out of nearly 500 teams from around the world.

Dasgupta says he wanted to attend the SMIFC Conference to help prepare for this year’s Bloomberg Challenge, where he will once again captain the UML team.

“My biggest takeaway from the conference was the importance of teamwork when it comes to investing in a group setting,” says Dasgupta, who is from Westborough, Massachusetts. “Given that there are over 6,000 publicly listed stocks in the U.S. markets, it would be impossible for one person to analyze all of them alone. I learned that having teams analyze certain sectors of the market and eventually coming together to discuss as a group which stocks would be the correct investment is the best approach.”

While in Chicago, the students toured the trading floor of Cboe Global Markets, which owns the Chicago Board Options Exchange.

All of the students thanked Dean of Business Sandra Richtermeyer for funding their trip.

“Dean Richtermeyer's support for our trip shows how invested she is in ensuring success for Manning School of Business students,” Dasgupta says.