Archive for February, 2011
Vancouver at four in the morning in the wintertime looks a lot like an alien planet: Closed shops, vacant streets, and dimly lit homes all bathed in a gray lunar light is all there is for anyone to notice at this hour. The only people who happened to be awake were the final devout partygoers downtown, and the weary-eyed travelers on their way to catch early morning flights. I was of the latter.
When we arrived in Toronto, it was a cold but pleasant day. A brisk reminder of the unique nature of Vancouver’s kind Winters. After arriving in the hotel lobby we were greeted by a cheerful MBA Games volunteer wearing a name tag as proof of authenticity and a neon green shirt that was only rivaled in blinding colour intensity by our tie dyed SFU sports team jerseys. We were directed to the registration tables where we were met with more neon clad volunteers who issued each team member a wrist band and a bag of standard issue fare from corporate sponsors. The bag most notably included an aluminum water bottle, and a box of cinnamon toast crunch.
At 7pm that evening we all walked from the main hotel concourse to the banquet hall through a series of stairwells and corridors being met by other school teams in full uniform also on their way to the banquet hall. It was clear at this point that the tone the rest of the weekend was going to take would be an interesting cocktail of friendly conversation mixed with intense competition on the courts and in the boardrooms. It would be a memorable weekend for certain!
Walking through the banquet hall doors revealed the venue for the night: A room the size of a football field, saturated in the enthusiasm of 660 MBA students. With the opening of the symbolic briefcase to commemorate the beginning of the games, the school teams began a series of unique displays of team spirit. Some schools chose to show it with croquet mallets and matching garb, others wielded streamers or electric guitars. Being the international school that we are, it was a clear choice that we use Vuvuzelas for our team anthem herein for the rest of the competition.
A part of the opening ceremony was a chance for every school to have an introductory dance and song. These presentations turned out to be as varied as the schools themselves. Everything from dawning sunglasses and standing in utter stillness, to fully choreographed dance sequences with rock guitar solos were presented with catchy sing-a-long instructions. Even men dressed as ‘single ladies’ bravely entered the stage for everyone’s enjoyment. It was a thoroughly entertaining night, and a grand beginning to the competition.
SFU SIAS: North America’s best student-run value investment fund. (By Sara Moghaddamjoo, edited by Lauren Looi.)
As a candidate in the Master of Financial Risk Management (FRM) program, one of the most rewarding experiences has definitely been the unique opportunity to attain a real understanding of fund management through involvement in the Student Investment Advisory Service (SIAS Fund). Every year, the FRM program at SFU attracts enthusiastic finance students from all around the world. In addition to having the support of a team of exceptional faculty members and top-notch industry experts, the true value of the program comes from the chance to obtain hands on experience from managing over $10 million of the university’s endowment portfolio. Initially, SIAS was funded by contributions from HSBC Bank of Canada and Lohn Foundation and its current market capital has grown to nearly twice the original fund value.
The fund follows a value investing mandate, set by the client (the SFU Treasurer, Mr. Michael Murdock) through a conservative Investment Policy Statement (IPS). The SIAS portfolio is composed of four actively managed asset classes: Cash, Canadian Equity, Global Equity and Fixed Income. At the beginning of the program (academic year), candidates (investment managers) go through extensive training via three sources: (1) the previous SIAS cohort, (2) faculty members and most importantly, (3) a group of elite industry professionals, before they are handed down the power. Additionally, the new investment managers are immediately grouped into six managing teams, namely Economics and Strategy, Canadian Equity, Global Equity, Fixed Income, and Risk Metrics. The activities of each team are closely monitored by the sixth team; compliance and performance, in accordance to the IPS. This team generates monthly compliance and performance reports for the fund which is sent to the clients and the faculty advisors. The fund also holds quarterly performance review presentations before a panel of industry advisors and a few of B.C’s preeminent portfolio managers, which are open to the public (see http://beedie.sfu.ca/sias/media.php for more details on how to RSVP). The next of which is set for Thursday, February 24 at 2:00 pm in the Segal Graduate School of Business Building.
As one of the largest student managed funds in North America, SIAS was awarded the best student-run value investment fund in North America in 2007 based on performance by RISE (recognized by Businessweek). SFU’s endowment portfolio is among the top 25% largest endowments in North America. As active contributors to managing SIAS; the $10 million baby fund of the SFU’s large endowment portfolio, FRM candidates also provide mentorship to a number of well qualified and trained SFU finance undergraduate students in their role as associate analyst for the fund. The outstanding performance of the fund is a direct result of the dedication, knowledge and active presence of all the motivated members of the FRM program which is evident from the super heated and loud SIAS weekly meetings.
February 9 was an exciting day for SFU Business—we were re-named the Beedie School of Business in recognition of an extremely generous gift from Ryan and Keith Beedie. The $22 million donation was the largest in SFU’s history and will be used to create an endowment supporting students, professorships and research chairs. The goal is to make SFU a global thought leader in innovation and entrepreneurship, Asia Pacific business studies, risk management and sustainability. I think we are well on our way.
Ryan earned his BBA at SFU in 1991 and joined his family’s industrial real estate development firm in 1992. Under Ryan’s direction, The Beedie Group has grown to be the largest landlordof industrial space in British Columbia and in 2009, he was named Ernst & Young’s Pacific Region Entrepreneur of the Year.
On behalf of the students at the Beedie School of Business, I would like to extend a huge thank you to Ryan and Keith Beedie for making such a significant investment in our future. The opportunities provided through this donation will be realized for many years to come.
If you are considering applying to business school, I encourage you to attend one of the upcoming information sessions to learn what SFU’s Beedie School of Business can offer you.
Hello Everyone! Welcome to the inaugural post from the Master of Finance Risk Management (MFRM) program. We are very excited to be a part of the ‘A Few Good Minds’ team so that we can give you a closer look at the MFRM program itself, insight into the world of Finance and a front row seat to watch us manage our $10 million SIAS portfolio.
The MFRM program is unique in that it is designed as a boot-camp to get you ready for the first day of work in the financial industry. Usually companies spend millions of dollars flying new hires to a central location to attend an integrated training program for a few months, the MFRM program allows graduates to hit the ground running on day 1.
So what exactly do we do in the MFRM program? In addition to learning fancy-sounding terminology like CAPM, VaR, heteroscedasticity, Ito’s Lemma, diversification, volatility, alpha, covered calls and hedging … we study basic financial building blocks so that we may understand, create and replicate financial instruments that exist in the world. Then, we learn about different tools used to analyze and interpret relationships that exist in the financial markets. Together, the building blocks and tools create an ideal platform for improving returns and understanding, measuring and mitigating risks that threaten portfolios.
Taking part in a 1-year intensive MBA program can be very challenging. In addition to the academics, the internship and future job opportunities are other concerns that students have. Although sometimes it seems impossible to spare time out to participate in non-business types of social events, attending these events actually leads to unexpected gains that may end up saving one’s time.
Out of the hundreds of emails MBA students receive from different departments, I found one that promotes the blog of SFU Graduate Studies (http://blogs.sfu.ca/departments/gradstudies/). Out of curiosity, I read the blog and found a few interesting posts. Particularly, I looked into one that is about the International Grad Student Dinner coordinated by the Graduate International Community Program. Growing up in Vancouver, I am not an international student, but the social dinner welcomes both domestic and international students, as it gives all students a chance to mingle and network. Even though it is not a business social event that brings opportunities in meeting people from major corporations, I decided to go.