The SMF is the first initiative of its kind within Europe, it manages a real-life long-only equity portfolio and is 100% run by students. We are a non-remunerated organization with two primary mandates. The first of which is educate Trinity students with a view to granting them a competitive advantage in the jobs market at home and abroad. The second of which is to give back to the community which sustains us, to that end 10% of annual profits are donated to the Trinity Access Programme (TAP) which assists students from underrepresented backgrounds with their tuitions fees and other expenses. The remaining 90% of our returns are reinvested into the portfolio with a view to growing it to a critical mass whereby the 10% donated to charity becomes a meaningful sum.
Chris Swords, a third year psychology and economics student, is a sector manager in the SMF (Student Management Fund) and has been involved with the society since he came to Trinity. We asked Chris to tell us about his experience with the SMF:
What is the SMF and what is your role in it?
The SMF is an equity investment fund run solely by students. The Fund is worth about 90,000eur and we invest that money in companies based on the research of the Fund’s 400 or so analysts (members). So yes we function just like a large institutional investor and thereby give members an invaluable insight into the mechanics of the financial world. I am the Sector Manager for the Telecommunications & Media team within the Fund. The Fund is divided into 12 sectors (teams) based on the type of companies that we look at (technology, energy, financials, healthcare, etc.) and each Sector Manager is responsible for a team of about 25 analysts – educating them on the fundamentals of value investing, coordinating and preparing stock pitches to the Investment Committee, and monitoring the Fund’s active holdings (those companies that we have already invested in).
Why did you decide to get involved?
I heard about the SMF just prior to Fresher’s Week when I was in first year. Investing was something I had no direct experience of but something I thought I might be interested in. Joining in first year gave me a massive advantage in that it made it possible for me to progress through to more senior positions within the Fund each year.
What’s been your favourite part of working with the SMF?
My favourite experience within the SMF was educating my team of new analysts this year on what I perceive to be the fundamentals of equity investing (equity just refers to a stock or a share in company). The process of distilling everything I’d learned in my previous two years in the Fund (as an Analyst and a Senior Analyst) into about a 90-minute lecture made me realize just how far I had come. The fact that I had learned so much about a complex topic through an extra-curricular activity made it a particularly rewarding feeling.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
My biggest challenge was probably my first pitch as a Sector Manager. When you are Sector Manager you are running the show and the book ends with you. If the pitch is weak or there’s something wrong with it then the responsibility for that rests with you. You are also responsible for making sure that all of your analysts understand the research that they’re doing and how they are expected to contribute towards the pitch. And after you and your analysts have pitched your company, you are the one that has to answer the Investment Committee’s questions, which can be very tough!
What other supports are there in Trinity for students interested in business and finance?
If you are serious about a career in finance, the SMF is your first port of call. It will give you all of the facilities you need to pursue such a career successfully.
Do you think your experience in SMF will benefit you later on in life? What skills have you learnt?
The SMF has been the highlight of my college experience to date, and I have gained an enormous amount from it. I have learned important and transferable skills in fundamental business analysis. I have learned how to communicate complex information clearly and concisely through our bi-annual stock pitches. I have gained the leadership and communication skills associated with being Sector Manager to a team of 25 Analysts. And most importantly I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of smart and driven students with similar interests, as well as the experienced financial professionals who help out in the SMF on an advisory basis. All of these skills and experiences will benefit me immensely after college, whatever I decide to do.
If you could give one piece of advice to your freshman self, what would it be?
Immerse yourself in the college experience as much as you possibly can. Get to know as many new people as possible and find out what other people are interested in. In doing this you will get to know yourself better and what your own interests are. Societies are the ideal platform for pursuing this. Diversifying your experiences and broadening your horizons should be your priority throughout your undergrad, especially in the freshman years, when you can treat academics as secondary. You won’t ever again have as rich an opportunity as that presented to you in college to achieve these goals, so make the most of it!