Jenn Jule

It’s in the vault … SFU Business graduate student Jenn Julé is among the students managing Canada’s largest student-managed endowment fund.

Students manage endowment fund to double-digit returns

October 19, 2007

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The anxiety, the responsibility, the continual research and thinking…it’s all part of the role for SFU Business graduate and undergraduate students who are managing an SFU endowment fund.

It’s been a worthwhile effort. Over the past four years, they’ve achieved an average 13.2 percent return on the fund’s investment portfolio, exceeding the benchmark for all of SFU’s professionally managed endowment funds.

The Student Investment Advisory Service (SIAS), which is the name of the student management group, is made up of students in the Global Asset and Wealth Management (GAWM) MBA program, the Master of Financial Risk Management program and undergraduate business students in the finance stream.

They began managing the endowment fund in 2003, which was established with a $5.7 million donation from the Lohn Foundation and enhanced more recently by a smaller contribution from HSBC Canada. It is now one of the largest student-managed investment funds in North America and the largest in Canada.

In just four years, the fund portfolio’s value has almost doubled to $10 million and represents about five percent of the value of all SFU endowments. The students’ investment strategy follows a balanced mandate which includes Canadian equities and bonds as well as global equities.

“This unique program is the best example of academic and administrative collaboration I have ever seen,” says Jim Boyd, SFU treasurer. He notes that API Asset Performance Inc., an independent national consulting firm that measures investment performance, ranked SIAS in the top 25 percent of Canadian balanced-fund mandates in their survey for the four years ended June 30, 2007.

Students have full discretion for managing the fund and report to Boyd, who is their ‘client’. “Their performance has also been consistent in all asset classes over time,” notes Boyd. “This has enabled the fund to significantly exceed its income-allocation and inflation goals and to grow by over $4 million since inception.”

Says GAWM student Jenn Julé: “while not a formal credit class, SIAS is one of the most valuable parts of the GAWM program. Many business schools only offer a hypothetical portfolio. In managing SIAS, we’re accountable. You dig in a lot deeper when it’s real money.”

Students receive mentorship from industry and academic experts who ensure the students’ decisions are backed by comprehensive research and appropriate risk assessments and that they comply with the SFU board of governors’ established guidelines.
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