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Royal Investment Fund Moves Learning Outside the Classroom

A recent “mixer” event provides updates on the status of the fund and the expanding skills and experience gained by the students managing Bethel’s investment fund.

By Aiyanna Klaphake ’20

November 02, 2018 | 3:40 p.m.

Royal Investment Fund Moves Learning Outside the Classroom

Royal Investment Fund Advisory Board member Lucas Bunting presents to students during a recent event about the Student Managed Investment Fund. (Photo credit: AJ Barrett '21

Current Bethel students, alumni now representing Thrivent Financial, and the Student Managed Investment Fund (SMIF) Advisory Board members filled Bethel’s new business and economics department space earlier this fall. Alumni and visitors toured the department before gathering with students eager to network with finance professionals and to hear an update on the status of the fund.

Advisory Board members introduced themselves, explaining their professional background, their role on the board, and how they see students benefiting from involvement with the fund. “It’s more than just ‘stock-picking’,” said Advisory Board member Janice Guimond. 

Royal Investment Fund Moves Learning Outside the Classroom

Royal Investment Fund Advisory Board Members (l-r) Lucas Bunting, Teri Richardson, Janice Guimond, and Steve Landberg (Photo credit: AJ Barrett '21)

“A lot of times you sit in class and it doesn’t matter what stocks you pick. Managing actual people’s money, we have to choose investments that match our values… and we have to make sure we’re serving our clients.”

— Lacey Benz ’19, CIO of Bethel’s student-managed Royal Investment Fund

Xiaoshuo Liu ’18, who dedicated his summer to working on the fund, agrees with Guimond. Liu says the fund provides students with wide exposure to different areas of business because of the multiple aspects—including client relations, marketing, and risk management—that all play a role in the fund’s success.

A team of 23 students manage the Royal Investment Fund as it heads into its second year. The fund began as the project of several professors who had long wanted to develop an opportunity for students to gain applicable real-life experience, but it was jump-started by Thrivent Financial’s generous investment of $1 million last year

Through the fund, students are able to essentially run their own business. “We manage money by choosing stocks and ETFs (Exchange-Traded Funds), interact with clients, market our business by developing logos and pamphlets, and manage risk,” says fund CIO Lacey Benz ’19. “It’s not just finance. It brings in everyone across the [business] department.”

Royal Investment Fund Moves Learning Outside the Classroom

Students listen to presentations during a recent event about the Student Managed Investment Fund. (Photo credit: AJ Barrett '21)

The event in September with advisory board members included a presentation from Benz, who provided updates on the fund’s success. The fund has grown to boast six private investors with a total amount of $296,000. The students also attained a considerable achievement this year: officially passing their first audit.

For many, however, the greatest value of the fund is its ability to connect classroom-learning with real-world applications. “A lot of times you sit in class and it doesn’t matter what stocks you pick,” Benz says. “Managing actual people’s money, we have to choose investments that match our values… and we have to make sure we’re serving our clients.”

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