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Wealth of Experience

Had they been investing real money last semester, the students in the IUP Finance Association’s trading competition would be sitting pretty today. The average of the thirty or so virtual portfolios they established nearly doubled the performance of the Standard and Poor’s 500 index over the same four-month period.

Felipe Ucroz and Robert Camp

Robert Camp, right, dean of the Eberly College of Business and Information Technology, and Felipe Ucros in the soon-to-be-completed trading room.

“The Finance Association hopes to make the student trading competition intercollegiate in the future,” said Felipe Ucros, association president. “Instead of competing against other IUP students, the traders would compete against students from other schools. We’d also like for the association eventually to manage real funds.”

Robert Camp, dean of the Eberly College of Business and Information Technology, which sponsors the Finance Association, said, “The students in the Finance Association, and especially in the trading competition, exemplify the reason we need state-of-the-art facilities to educate for the real world. Within this calendar year, with completion of our trading room, we’ll have taken a major step in that direction.”

The Finance Association’s membership is international as well as talented. Ucros, a Colombian, estimates fully half the association’s fifty or so members are international students. With dual majors in Finance and Economics/Mathematics, he himself came to IUP three years ago from Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá. This summer, after graduation, he will head for New York and a job as an investment banking analyst with the global finance firm of Lehman Brothers.

The association’s international character notwithstanding, it was an Indiana, Pa., student, Jesse Meals, who won last semester’s trading competition. Meals works with other students on the association’s Social Committee, which, despite its name, does not plan dances or mixers. Instead, the committee works to build relationships with the finance world outside IUP. 

The Social Committee brings recruiters and alumni speakers to campus, and, with help from James Leda ’95 and Dean Camp, recently sent three students to visit Merrill Lynch in Manhattan. Several association members have received job offers from big firms, Ucros said.

The Finance Association has enlarged its focus in recent years, Ucros said, to provide students with more practical experiences—like the trading competition, a placement initiative, and trips to symposia.  Ibrahim Affaneh, chairperson of the Department of Finance and Legal Studies, has also worked to build a mentor program with IUP alumni and other executives, who share financial news and career advice with the students.