Student-managed investment fund at ACU educates students about responsible investing

Posted March 08, 2010 STARManaging a successful investment fund sounds like a lofty goal for a college student, but for a group at Abilene Christian University, the ambition is not only to manage an investment fund but beat the return of the S&P 500 each year.
STAR, ACU's Student Trading and Research group in the College of Business Administration, manages a stock portfolio, under the guidance of faculty advisers Dr. Jonathan Stewart and Dr. Terry Pope. The group manages more than $250,000 of ACU's endowment.
"The STAR program is one of the most real, intensive and educationally enriching programs in COBA, as well as ACU," says Tyler Lewis, senior financial management major from Spring, Texas, and president of STAR. "The experience goes well beyond just learning about the stock market. It teaches students how to research, analyze, and maybe most importantly, how to persuade and speak publicly."
With each person designated to cover one or two sectors of the S&P 500 such as energy, financials or technology, STAR meets each week to present new stocks to analyze and possibly purchase, to update information on stocks already owned and to learn more about the market.
"The program allows students to gain experience in a way that they can't get just from sitting in the classroom," says Stewart, professor of accounting and finance at ACU. "It makes our students apply what they're learning and stand out from the crowd."

The annual benchmark for STAR's investment fund is to beat the S&P 500, and seven out of the last nine years this goal has been accomplished, with an average annual return over the past nine years of 2.7% over the S&P 500.
"One of our main goals is to educate students on how God wants us to use money," says Lewis. "Without a doubt, God needs people who know how to handle money."
STAR began in the fall of 1999 and had its first full year of operation in 2001. A portion of the returns from the investment fund support scholarships for COBA students.