Equipping students to become investment banking savvy

Monday, February 7, 2022
by Farah Mohd Fadzil, SAF Communications Associate

The Student Investment Fund celebrates a decade of accomplishments

What started as a small initiative ten years ago has become a competitive student group with an established reputation. This year, the Student Investment Fund (SIF) reaches its 10th year anniversary and two of its faculty mentors, Ranjini Jha and Andrew Ecclestone, reflect on its growth through the past decade.

Photo of students in the Fall 2019 Student Investment Fund
With little opportunity for students to receive training in finance during the early 2010s, the professors came together in 2012 to set up the SIF to provide students with hands-on training that would have a real value to employers. Providing students with the added advantage of real-life experiences to bring to their co-op work terms and full-time employment was the main goal of SIF.

After receiving approval for the initiative and a generous anonymous donor gift of $250,000, they needed students to participate. The first communication sent out to encourage students to apply received little response so the faculty members recruited students by reaching out to those they thought would be interested in joining. Ecclestone shares from his own experience, “we know that students do well in courses that they're interested in, so, interest was a primary objective in terms of recruiting students.”

The first term of the SIF focused on policies and how the fund would run in the future. These policies were set by the first cohort who joined, and although much have changed since then, some of the original policies are still in place today. Jha points proudly to the work and effort that SIF students have put in and states, “it is a student-led fund. Faculty provide guidance.” Ten years ago, the first group of students were less than 10. Today, the SIF receives over 100 applications each year with about 25 being accepted.

Measuring the greatest accomplishments

Compared to the investment funds in other universities where students commit for a year or two at a time, the SIF can recruit a variety of students who can only commit for 4 months due to co-op work term sequencing at the University of Waterloo (UW). With this advantage, more students are able to participate and build their financial analysis acumen to gain success during their co-op and graduate job search. Ecclestone states, “the ultimate measure of success for us was seeing students starting to get jobs, where previously, very few of the students in our program got a job in investment banking.”

Photo of students presenting during the Fall 2019 Student Investment Fund meeting
The faculty mentors knew the SIF had become a great success once employers started to contact SAF to ask for the names of students who were part of the SIF. Students were not only successful in securing co-op positions but were also offered full-time positions in the financial sector after graduation.

A look into the investment future

Building capacity and reputation of the SIF over the past decade means that the challenge now is to figure out how to maintain the level of quality that has been presented by past and current students. Along with Garvin Blair, who is also a faculty mentor for SIF, Jha and Ecclestone hope to continue the success of the fund.  The SIF is where students can become well-prepared and well-trained in financial analysis and markets and take what they learn in class to apply in real-life situations. Jha would like to see students getting “an overall holistic learning experience, not only in one sector that they're interested in, but also in other sectors and [more broadly], with what's happening in the economy.”

When asked why students should join the SIF, Ecclestone advises, “You're not just competing against your fellow students [at UW], you're competing against numerous students at other institutions for jobs that are very much sought after. If you're truly interested in the finance industry, this is probably your greatest opportunity, which is right there for you to take advantage of it.”