IU Northwest professor and students make the most of finance conference
You can learn a lot from sitting in a classroom. But what really makes a well-rounded education is supplementing that classroom time with a look into the workforce.
Last semester, a group of IU Northwest students had an opportunity to apply what they were learning in their classes through attending the Student Managed Investment Fund Consortium (SMIFC). This event brings together students, professors and industry professionals—from around the nation—to network, learn and develop skills.
Assistant Professor of Finance Matthew Lutey took a group of IU Northwest students to the 2021 conference in Chicago. There, they worked on a stock market investment strategy which caught the eye of a judge. In fact, the students' returns were among the top performers of student funds at the conference.
"It was a good opportunity because students gained exposure to all these industry positions," Lutey said. "They got to network with students from other schools and meet industry professionals."
Kenneth Michaels, an IU Northwest student who attended the conference, was excited to see all of the speakers and learn more about the various diverging career paths in finance. "It definitely opened up my mind," he said.
Michaels worked on the paper outlining an investment strategy and focused on the sections having to do with technical analysis. He said he has always been interested in stocks, so participating in this project was a great way to use all the knowledge he has accumulated.
Michaels hopes that more students will be inspired to get involved and attend future conferences. "Finance can be overwhelming at times," he said. "It was nice to talk to students from other schools and get their perspectives."
Breaking down to the basics
Lutey knows all too well how overwhelming finance and the stock market can be for his students. Beyond offering opportunities to attend SMIFC, he works to make the subject matter manageable in the classroom.
"In investments classes, the material can be difficult," he said. "I do more qualitative problems that deal with the concepts rather than getting into the algebra and math."
He prefers to break down the subject matter into its simplest form, and then allow groups of students to work together on problems. Lutey says he’s especially keen on hands-on learning.
"After everybody collaborates on a problem, everybody’s able to expand on what they had done on their own," he said. Instead of grading for correctness, Lutey tends to grade classwork based on completion and effort.
Lutey emphasizes that learning finance has just as much to do with taking in real-world experience as it does sitting in a classroom. "You learn this subject by talking to people about it. That’s what I try to bring in—conversations I have with somebody [in the industry]," he said.
Another big part of Lutey’s classes has to do with meeting students where they’re at. He is very aware that his students often have responsibilities outside of the university and many work long hours at their jobs. "I try to find the flow of the class and apply the students’ personal experiences to the concepts that are being taught," he said.
The result of all this emphasis on collaboration over lecturing? More students coming away with a clearer understanding (and appreciation) of the material.
Whether teaching investment classes or attending a finance-oriented conference, Lutey is certainly invested in student success. It’s only up from here in terms of students’ accomplishments, and hopefully, their stock portfolios.