Each year, 10 to 12 junior and senior majors in accounting, business, or economics participate in a year-long hands-on course focused on understanding the investment industry, and in particular, the factors frequently considered when investing in stocks or mutual funds. The course, first taught in 2000, was developed in response to conversations with recent alumni of the Department who were working in careers in finance and investing. The alumni, convinced of the benefits to students of learning about investing by actually making investment decisions, generously contributed money to the Department to be used specifically for the newly-designed course. Several alumni now serve as the Fund’s Advisory Board, sharing their time and expertise with students who take the Investment Fund course each year.
In 2010, the fund was named The Birkey Investment Fund to honor Peter Birkey, who was instrumental in creating the course and who has been a dedicated member of the Advisory Board for the last 11 years. Birkey, majoring in business and economics at Coe, began working in finance immediately following graduation after a successful internship in his senior year. He later earned an MBA from University of Chicago and is now VP of Risk Management & Public Equities at Liberty Mutual in Boston.
In the Investment Fund course, students make and defend recommendations for new stock purchases and for managing the Department’s existing portfolio of stocks. The students are aided in their initial investment decisions by faculty, alumni, guest speakers, and the Fund’s Advisory Board who all share their knowledge of the investment industry. Although most students participate in the course because of an interest in finance, students benefit in other ways from the experience. The Investment Fund course pushes students to improve their research, writing, presentation, and group decision-making skills. In addition, students develop connections with alumni which have turned into internship and employment opportunities.