Countless Richmond student-athletes take classes in the university’s renowned Robins School of Business. However, just three have been selected this year for one of the business school’s most prestigious undergraduate affiliations: Student Managed Investment Fund, or SMIF.
The Robins School of Business offers a unique and highly selective program, Student Managed Investment Fund, or SMIF. A program founded in 1993 to provide real world experience with managing investment funds, SMIF allows finance majors to manage a piece of the schools endowment for an entire academic year.
SMIF is a very competitive program with an intense selection process. To apply, a student must maintain a 3.0 GPA, be finance major and have earned at least a B in Investments. The process begins a week after winter break of a student’s junior year with the assignment of a stock and each student had to complete a stock report. Based on those submissions, a smaller group was chosen to move on to a set of interviews. Graduating SMIF students then decide which 17 students will be invited to the program.
The three student-athletes who met all the qualifications and were invited this year – Haley Preschutti (cross country/track and field), Kylie Regan (cross country/track and field), and Anthony Farino (men’s lacrosse).
Once assigned, they officially inherited the fund on March 31.
“We were selected to manage a piece of the school’s endowment. So we manage about $400,000 in value and we are split into two sides – growth investors and value investors,” Preschutti said. By chance, all three student-athletes were assigned the growth fund.
Prior to leaving campus for the summer, the students looked at the portfolio to see what the previous group had done. Decisions were made on what they wanted to keep and what they wanted to sell off.
“We weren’t allowed to touch the fund over the summer so it was all about putting in protections to make sure we weren’t hit hard coming back to school,” Preschutti said. So when we came back to school, we actively managed the fund.”
On top of a rigorous academic schedule, training and practices, Preschutti and the SMIF students have weekly group meetings are all assigned to a sector, which they analyze and look for areas of potential growth and value. Then they can pitch stocks that they believe are great the whole group and the academic advisor approve options for the fund, they can actively trade.
“It’s a big responsibility,” Preschutti said. “It’s cool that we get to have real world experience and it puts the real world responsibility on us because it’s someone’s money. It is a big deal. People’s educations rely on that. The stakes are very high.”
In addition to weekly meetings, SMIF students receive the real world experience of meeting with members of the board twice a year to do a presentation about how the portfolio is doing and strategies moving forward.
This past weekend, Preschutti and other SMIF students participated in an annual tradition of travelling to New York City, which arguably is the investment capital of the world.
“It exposes us to all the possibilities in the investment management world,” she said. “We go to eight firms over two days and we only meet with alumni or parents of current students. They are so willing to tell us everything about their firm, what they do, and about the industry. We also get to pick their brain on different strategies that we are interested in and potential investment opportunities.”
There is something special about seeing something tangible and being in an environment that you learn about in the classroom. To see if first-hand and witness the inner workings bring textbooks to life.
“It was so eye-opening because you go through all of your classes and you get an idea of what investment banking and sales and trading is, and what those starting roles look like,” Preschutti said. “I had no idea where you could go with that kind of experience and the different areas that are out there that you can go explore are just overwhelming in number. The trip provided a lot of clarity I think for a lot of people, not just on what their next step should be but how they’d like their career trajectory to go.”
The trip goes beyond the scope of first hand experience in New York City, it is also a way for UofR students to connect with a network of alumni.
“That was one of the biggest takeaways that we all got,” she said. “It’s easy for people to say ‘reach out to me anytime,’ but these people are truly invested in your career and there is a huge passion for spreading Richmond through all different networks. They are trying to emphasize the caliber of our education here is very high, and we shouldn’t be written off because we don’t go to an Ivy League. We have an enormous amount of untapped potential and I think a lot of alumni see that and they want to increase the Spider name, the recognition and the prestige that goes with it by investing in us and helping to bring quality people up through different organizations.”
Preschutti studies finance and marketing and enjoys being more on the people side of things. Over the summer she completed an internship with Vanguard gaining valuable experience and having the chance to explore several parts of the organization. Following the New York trip, Preschutti got a chance to see everything that is out there.
“I left saying I have clarity with exactly what I want to do with my life, but my first step, I have no idea what the right move to get there is because what I want to do is definitely not a first step undergrad role,” Preschutti said. “I did find some areas I want to be in like fundraising and business development so you’re bringing in all the different sources of funding to these firms that then go and invest that money on behalf of those limited partners. That I feel like perfectly combines my love of people and sales, and active travel, and you’re really engaging with people. You also have to understand the finance side of the business because you have to be able to explain what is going on in your business and in the industry to those clients and do it in a way that is persuasive enough for them to invest with you. For me I found the best of both worlds position.”
Growing up Preschutti was told she had the personality for sales, her family has its own business, and she just figured that is what she would do. When she arrived at the University of Richmond she really enjoyed the business classes and was focused on getting into the B-School. With the success she has had in the classroom, and her invitation to the illustrious SMIF program, seems like the old adage of family knows best is true as her family was right about what she would end up doing in a career.