Investment club uses real money to get real-world lessons

The Norwich Investment Club is a small club that is supported by Norwich alumni and faculty and invests real money, thanks to a donation that got it started.
It was created two years ago and is a club that is open to students who are interested and it’s looking for new members, said the president and co-founder of the Investment Club of Norwich.

“We played stock simulators online and anybody who had an interest in finance it was open to,” said AJ Johnson, a 21-year-old senior from Farmington, Conn. But now it has seed money to invest and some of the profits go to a good cause, for a scholarship.
“It has been a real life experience to be able to, not only work with this amount of money, but to set up things like an Investment Policy Statement (IPS), set the balance portfolio, things that basically fortune 500 companies and things full-on companies and corporations have to do,” said Johnson.
Alumni play an important role in the Investment Club. “We started working with Lauren Wobby (Chief Financial Officer of Norwich University), from there she reached out to the alumni department to see if any alumni would be interested not only in mentoring us, but hopefully contributing some money,” said Johnson.
“From there, she found a guy named Larry Budnick, (a) 1964 alum. He was very interested in helping us out so we met with him and from there he began to actually give us installments of money, the first being $25,000,” said Johnson.
“Currently our only sources of funds are from Norwich alumni,” said Austin Surowiec, 21-years-old junior who is a double major in business and accounting from Louisville, Ky., who serves as the equity researcher looking at stocks to buy.
“Within the six-figure-fund, half of the proceeds will go toward an engineer scholarship and it will be in our constitution that it will not change,” said Johnson.
The club advisor is Prof. Alex Chung who worked with the Investment Committee at his previous school. He is a professor of economics and finance and pitched the idea of the investment club to Johnson.
One thing that is different from most clubs is that the investment club is always working because the markets are always running and so stocks need to be monitored.
The experience is invaluable, say those in the club.
“You learn so much more than what you are capable of learning in classroom experience here at Norwich,” said Ben Fertich, a 21-year-old senior, and co-founder of the investment Club, from Gettysburg, Pa.
All members have a say into which stocks or mutual funds the club funds go to. The hands-on experience in the club is a learning process for all of the members. There are also trips that are being planned to allow the club to compete in competitions.
The club takes investment ideas from non-members, but it only has a limited amount of members for a specific reasons: “We can make (a) decision and we can get done quickly,” said Johnson.
“Having a lot of people is very difficult because there are thousands and thousands of securities on the market that we can buy. For every person to pitch theirs, it would not be practical, because it would take too much time and we wouldn’t be able to get anything done.”
The Investment Club has recently added another member who shadowed Noah Clemmer, a junior and member in the club. “He would basically tell me websites to look up and have me look up definitions to get a general idea,” said Noah Roy, a 19-year-old sophomore and construction engineering management major, from Suffield, Conn.
“We don’t really just let anybody join. We kind of go out and look for people and try to find someone who is going to be interested, who’s got a little prior knowledge, or is willing to learn at all,” Roy said.
“We are searching for two freshmen and looking for one more sophomore (to join the club),” Roy said.
There are two seniors who will be gone after this year and want to keep the success going. While Both AJ Johnson and Ben Fertich are still learning themselves, they will have to teach the new members what they know.

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