Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:32 pm
Marquette University finance majors will have the opportunity to get a taste of what it is like to work on Wall Street when a new applied investment management (AIM) program is launched at the Milwaukee campus in January.
The elite five-course program for students will begin in the second semester of the students’ junior year, complete with a real-time trading and research center. The students will have the opportunity to manage the investment of $500,000 of Marquette’s endowment funds.
Unlike other existing research centers for graduate programs that prepare students for trading, the AIM program research center will train students to become research analysts or money managers. And they’ll be managing real money.
The research center, AIM courses and required internship will not only provide students with an advantage for job placement after graduation, but graduates will be prepared to take and pass the first level of the chartered financial analyst (CFA) exam immediately after leaving Marquette, according to David Krause, director of the AIM program.
"We are bridging the gap between concept and application," Krause said. "The proof will be in the CFA quantitative evidence and the career placement of our graduates."
Twelve students were recently accepted for the first class of the AIM program, and Krause said the Marquette’s College of Business Administration plans to add up to eight additional students for the program in the coming years.
The program consists of four courses in investment management between the second semester of the students’ junior and senior years and an internship placement for the summer before their senior year.
"The college is thrilled to be able to provide polished and specialized training that distinguishes our graduates in the market and at the same time connects Marquette to the business community," said Cheryl Maranto, executive associate dean of business administration.
Internship placements already are set for the students at investment companies in both Milwaukee and Chicago, Krause said.
Prospective students must apply and be accepted to the elite and rigorous program and are required to take additional accounting and an investment analysis course before applying.
The required courses are not on the original curriculum the university suggests finance majors follow. Because of the prerequisite courses, Krause said, students would graduate with 135 credits, six credits more than the required 129 credits for graduation.
"This unique program fits well in the Milwaukee and Chicago climates because of the amount of money managers in the area," said Jim McGibany, associate dean of business administration. "A lot of the [Marquette] faculty research is applied in nature, it is what we do best. The AIM program fits in this theme because it is a real experience without pushing the theoretical envelope."
AIM students will take an investment management course during the first semester of their senior year and a valuation and portfolio management course during the second semester. Throughout the duration of the two courses, the students will be investing $500,000 of Marquette University’s endowment fund.
According to Krause, students will have to follow the endowment guidelines, which include restrictions on venture capital investments, commodity sales, the purchase of foreign securities and the investment of more than 5 percent of the endowment fund in one company.
"Students will get the exposure to the entities that they are investing and work just like professional money managers," Krause said.
Scott Kennedy, a Marquette junior, is one of the 12 members of the first AIM class. Kennedy said he already had planned to pursue a career in investment, and now that the tools are available for the experience, he expects the AIM program to give him a head start.
"This is a phenomenal way to learn about the market," Kennedy said. "I am looking forward to the summer internship. I have always wanted a 10-week experience with a leading investment firm. And the lab, with the information it can provide, the streaming quotes, being ready for the CFA, it is a great opportunity and it is very exciting."
The research center is being built on the third floor of David A. Straz Jr. Hall, a building dedicated to the College of Business Administration.
Marquette is paying for the cost of the creation of the room, including 12 computer workstations and two 40-inch liquid crystal display (LCD) televisions with cable connections for CNN and CNBC. Other funding for the $100,000 project came from local investment firms and donations from software companies, Krause said.
Two workstations will have Bloomberg, a financial service pipeline, and two will have Reuters, a financial data feed.
The room will have a real-time 10-foot ticker with stock quotes and security graphics. Local companies have donated funds for the $1,500-per-month payments to support the Bloomberg and Reuters workstations.
"So far, four area companies have formally committed to five years of annual gifts and a number of other firms are expressing support in internships and contributions," Krause said. "Companies are seeing what a great program this is for the community."
Quant IX Software, Inc., a Mequon-based software development company, has donated its Portfolio Record Keeper software to the research center, and Chicago-based MorningStar Inc., a provider of independent investment research, donated software tools.
Ryan Auth, a junior finance major at Marquette, said he heard about the program through an e-mail from the College of Business. Auth said his career goal is to work for a company such as Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. in money management, and he could hardly contain his excitement in when he saw what the AIM program could offer him.
Auth followed the program’s guidelines and took the prerequisite courses in investment analysis and applied as soon as he could.
"My dad is in the industry and has never heard of college graduates coming out of school and passing the CFA exam," Auth said. "I am ready to start working with the group and to start managing Marquette’s money."
The program and research center are nearly two years in the making and began with a student’s suggestion. Marquette researched the options and found that the idea was plausible, Maranto said.
Krause was previously employed with Marquette University as an assistant professor of finance, but left teaching in 1989 to pursue business interests. He returned to Marquette in June to head the AIM program.
"It is eye-opening to realize the strength of programs now compared to the 1980s," Krause said. "Students are better equipped with math now and ask direct questions. Students want work experience, internships and exposure to outside speakers now and that is what we are trying to deliver to them."
December 10, 2004, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI