Financiers Club Takes Second in TVA Investment Challenge

Business students achieved university's highest finish to date in financial competition

UM student members of the Financiers Club present their investment thesis virtually for the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Investment Challenge. They are (from left) Lauren Winstead, of Collierville, Tennessee, who graduated in May from the School of Business Administration and is a master’s student in business analytics at the College of William and Mary; Jon Taylor, a senior from Wiggins, majoring in managerial finance and economics; Diane Lim, of Suwanee, Georgia, who graduated in May and works as an investment analyst for Alpha Capital Management in Atlanta; and Kendal Outwater, a senior from Houston, Texas, majoring in managerial finance and banking. Photo by Lin Ge

OXFORD, Miss. – Eleven sectors of students from the Financiers Club at the University of Mississippi School of Business Administration brought new ideas and insights to the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Investment Challenge, making history in the rankings.

The Financiers Club placed second out of 24 schools for the first time since the inception of this competition. Sector leaders planned to represent the university by presenting their investment theses in front of TVA executives in late March, but that event was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The TVA challenge is an excellent experiential learning opportunity for investment-minded students,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration. “It is using real funds in a competitive environment, similar to what these students will face when they graduate.

“It is a great way for students to understand the nuts and bolts of financial analysis and how to invest. It is wonderful that the faculty are dedicated to providing these educational opportunities to our students.”

Ole Miss has been a part of the TVA’s investment program/challenge for universities since it was created in 1998. As one of the nation’s largest student-managed investment plans, the program has expanded to 24 universities and more than $10 million in funds.

Students in the Ole Miss Financiers Club manage a $500,000 investment fund for TVA while inviting executives from the finance community to speak and network with club members. The club includes 80 student members, many whom are sophomores and juniors, who have opportunities to learn from older members.

“The sheer size and the club members’ diversity helped bring new ideas and insights, often the key ingredients to generating a portfolio return above the return of the market,” said Lin Ge, a faculty adviser to the Financiers Club.

With two female sector leaders in place, more female analysts are being recruited to the club.

“Dr. Ge has advocated for underrepresented females in finance, and it is inspiring to see her mentor future women in their education and personal futures,” said Kendal Outwater, a senior from Houston, Texas, who is double majoring banking and finance and managerial finance. “I encourage my fellow peers to consider membership and am eternally grateful to the Tennessee Valley Authority for facilitating a means to professional development.”

The club’s planning process for the TVA competition was not severely affected by the pandemic because the Financiers Club was able to conduct weekly meetings via Zoom since the pandemic began.

“We were most proud of our students,” said Arup Ganguly, another faculty adviser to the club. “It is always very gratifying to see students successfully apply the tools that they have learned in our courses to manage real money We were thrilled to see their hard work and passion for finance being rewarded.”

Financiers Club students generated a portfolio return that was 5.5% above the return of the market, beating teams from Vanderbilt University, University of Kentucky, Mississippi State University and the University of Memphis.

For this performance, the TVA has awarded the university $7,449 for student scholarship funds.