Although the money existed only in theory, the students who participated in the 2017 Bloomberg Trading Challenge gained a real-world knowledge of financial trading principles that helped them bridge classroom theory with actual stock marketing trading.
“I had never participated in anything like this before,” said Zack Marcinek, a senior at UM-Tupelo from Corinth. “I enjoyed it so much that I’ve switched my career goals a bit from wanting to be a financial adviser specifically for individuals to now being more interested in becoming a corporate financial analyst for a larger corporation.”
Ivonne Liebenberg, UM instructional assistant professor of finance, said that when Bloomberg representatives reached out to her in fall 2016 about participating in their new collegiate stock market competition, she jumped at the opportunity for her students to garner investing experience.
“I knew this would be an exciting, interactive way for students to apply what they were learning in class,” she said. “They had the opportunity to learn more about how the stock market works, handling orders, learning about transaction costs and analyzing the outcomes.”
The Tupelo students named their trading team “I. Liebenberg & Co.” in honor of their instructor. Team members included Heather Couture of Mooreville, Zack Marcinek of Corinth, Candy McDonald of Guntown, Daniel Patterson of Pontotoc and Katie Watson of Shannon.
“We started out letting the students pitch their stock ideas,” Liebenberg said. “They had to give me a good reason to add their stock pick to the portfolio. Once we made our decisions, the students began analyzing and following their investments.”
To diversify their portfolio, each student focused on different stock areas to create a balanced investment. Marcinek said he focused on technology stocks and ultimately recommended Netflix and Adobe Connect.
“Both companies are tried-and-true,” Marcinek said. “Most of my friends use Netflix. It seems to be cannibalizing regular television.
“The university uses Adobe Connect in several of my classes. I think it’s only going to progress.”
Both his stock picks recorded gains during the competition.
The trading challenge introduced students to Bloomberg’s Stock Terminal, which is used to define market assumptions, develop a return-generating strategy and execute trades over a closed network.
“It was interesting seeing all of the tools that were part of the trading terminal and how they helped you assess your trades,” Marcinek said. “It wasn’t too complicated and coached us through.”
The competition continued for eight weeks, with students having opportunities to buy and sell stocks throughout that timeframe. The teams that generated the highest return and presented the best investment methodology at the end of the challenge were named among the top 10 finalists.
“We decided to go invest Warren Buffett-style, that is, to buy and hold,” Marcinek said. “We thought by diversifying well and staying patient, our strategy would pay off.”
The students had to keep a close eye on their stocks, but Liebenberg said she felt that trading too much might not garner the greatest return in the competition’s short eight-week timeframe.
“I’m very proud of the students’ work, especially since this was their first time competing,” Liebenberg said. “I think they learned a great deal and came up with solid strategies to guide their trading.”