This year, Trevecca undergraduate students, along with sponsor Dr. James Agee, took part in the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) annual Investment Challenge Program (ICP).
Although the official rankings from the 2017 competition are still unknown, Trevecca’s 2018 team, comprised of 15 students enrolled in Agee’s investment course, managed to beat their benchmark, the S&P 500, by 2.37 percentage points (TNU return of 24.2 percent versus S&P 500 return of 21.83 percentage). This strong return comes on the heels of Trevecca’s first place finish in the 2016 competition.
As a reward for this feat, the University is being awarded a cash prize of $2,935 that will be deposited in the Trevecca Business Professionals Endowment. This fund provides scholarships for students in Trevecca’s Skinner School of Business and Technology.
“This challenge is a great opportunity for our students to have real money to invest,” said Agee, a professor of business at Trevecca. “It’s a win-win for everyone involved.”
Trevecca students have competed in the ICP since 2003, but the challenge has existed since 1998. The competition consists of 25 colleges and universities, including the University of Tennessee, University of Kentucky, University of Mississippi, and Vanderbilt. Institutions compete to see which can have the highest return on their investments.
Students aren’t just thrown into the challenge. To be eligible to compete, students must be enrolled in an investment course that teaches them the fundamentals of investing.
“Students spend the entire semester learning about stocks and the stock market,” Agee said. “In addition, they participate in a mock investment game. At the end of the semester, they take the knowledge they have gained and use it to pick the actual competition portfolio.”
Alana Grimaud, a senior communications major and a member of the fall 2017 course, credits much of the team’s success to Agee’s instruction, which stresses the importance of diversification and taking a long-term approach.
“Professor Agee really takes his time teaching us what stocks not to buy and what to look at when buying,” Grimaud said, “even teaching us to look at stocks outside the country.”
Unlike other colleges and universities that compete in the ICP, Trevecca’s investment course is open to students of all majors and education levels.
“It’s interesting when we go to the annual conferences, and competitors from other schools are often senior level finance majors or MBA students,” Agee said. “Our students introduce themselves, ‘I’m a freshman religion major.’ You can see the confused faces.”
Nicolette Thayer, a junior communications major, described the experience as confidence-building.
“Investing is a life skill that everyone needs to know,” she said. “For me, having no background in business, I was able to gain the confidence to know what I’m doing and start investing.”