Skip to Content

Darla Moore School of Business

  • Image of the spring 2024 finance investments class

    The spring 2024 Student-Managed Investment Fund class

Growing a $1.6 million investment fund

Finance students experience impressive stakes through buying and selling stocks in their investment course

The Darla Moore School of Business is known for providing real-world experience to prepare graduates for a competitive workforce. One particular finance class puts the students in the driver seat managing a $1.5 million portfolio.

The spring 2024 section’s 20 students produced a 6.1 percent return over a 15-week period, with assets under management peaking at $1.63 million in March 2024.

During a recent presentation, the students discussed the learning opportunity and how they approached overseeing the $1.5 million fund sponsored by the USC - Business Partnership Foundation (BPF).

Our presentation was all about defending why we made decisions that we did and how we are putting investors’ capital to use,” said Steven Savvindis, ‘24 finance, class captain for stocks. “Our fiduciary responsibility is to make smart decisions on behalf of our investors.”

Angelo Pinto, '24 Master of International Business, was the class captain for assets and worked alongside Savvindis. Pinto is also enrolled as an MIB Double-Degree student at Bocconi University, where he's pursuing a master's in management. 

Leading the two class captains, finance associate professor Hugh Kim instructed and supervised the students while they actively ran the investment fund.

“Students who take this course will have many diverse possibilities,” Kim said. “Some of our students already have jobs in the investment industry or banking. I believe the more exposure and experience this course offers will help students to have more leading roles in whatever jobs they take.”

The students and professors in the course are required to provide semi-annual progress updates to the BPF Boards of Trustees and Advisors. However, students have the ability to invest in all publicly traded stocks, mutual funds and exchange-traded funds as governed by the investment policy statement. 

“The coolest part of this class is that it takes more of a Socratic teaching approach,” said David Wallace, ‘24 finance, class asset manager.It’s not about lectures by the teacher. You’re expected to come to class knowing what’s going on in the market such as inflation rates, economic growth and geopolitical risk — every day is different.”

Managing more than a million dollars could intimidate many students, but they said the challenge to grow the funds was exciting. When the course was first offered, the investment was $275,000 compared to the $1.5 million today.

“Back in 2001, some donors and sponsors pulled money together for the $275,000 fund, and over time, the students have grown those funds exponentially to well over a million,” said Jordan Lisnow, ’25 accounting and finance, class portfolio manager. “Every single stock exchange-traded fund in the entire world is pretty much fair game — it just stems down to us pitching it and us coming up with an overall unanimous investment decision. If it’s an investment that no one’s ever heard of, as long as we have a good thesis behind it, we do our research, and the sky is the limit — there are no constraints.”

Many students said they felt like they were walking away from the class with more “knowledge and confidence regarding research, stocks and numbers,” said Lily Prevost, ‘24 finance, class analyst for the materials sector.

The Student-Managed Investment Fund course is offered each semester through the finance department in partnership with the BPF. Due to its popularity, students are encouraged to contact an instructor during the previous semester and enroll as soon as registration opens.

-Christian Osborne 

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.