Money Management 101

In February, members of the Bates College Investment Club visited capitalism’s Emerald City, the New York Stock Exchange.

“It was a slow day, unfortunately, but it gave us a lot of time to ask questions,” says club member Joanie Meharry ’08, who set up the tour with a friend at the NYSE.

“It’s the heart of the financial world,” says Julie Otton, another sophomore in the club. “It’s incredible.” The six also visited banking giant Credit Suisse, hosted by analyst Christian Rogers ’04.

For the BCIC, such events are really just the spice for a meat-and-potatoes mission: to get the best investment returns for Bates on $100,000 donated by Trustee John Gillespie ’80, founder of Prospector Partners LLC.

The arrangement provides hands-on investment experience, says club adviser Carl Schwinn, associate professor of economics. More important, it will demonstrate the worth of a Bates education in navigating the seas of finance. The varied disciplines in the liberal arts, Schwinn says, help students “understand how changes in technology, global politics, and trade relationships will change investment opportunities.”

The trustee investment committee, to which Gillespie belongs, set guidelines for the student investors. Their goal is a 4.5 percent return, with those earnings supporting financial aid, and profits above 4.5 percent going back into principal. And the BCIC must avoid high-risk investments. The money is currently in certificates of deposit, but the BCIC will venture into equities this fall.

“A lot of people have told us that we should try to get higher returns than the investors of the College endowment,” Otton notes.

So will they take on the trustee money managers? “Absolutely,” says Meharry.