As a financial analyst in Washington College’s Brown Advisory Student-Managed Investment Fund Program, senior Whitney Schweizer is already an experienced investor. Under the guidance of industry expert and executive-in-residence Richard Bookbinder, Schweizer and his classmates are actively investing in a fund that has grown since its inception in June 2008 from $500,000 to $871,000 in real dollars as of October 31.
But, when the business management major from Baltimore participated in a back-to-school trading challenge in derivatives and futures trading, Schweizer finished nearly $33,000 richer—in Monopoly money—and took second place among 1,660 undergraduates around the world. Two other Washington College seniors, Tanner Barbieri and Austin Hepburn, finished among the top 70 competitors. The challenge was held by the CME Institute, an arm of the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace.
“On the first day of class [on financial derivatives], Professor [Hui-Ju] Tsai told us about this challenge, but I wasn’t totally sure about derivatives and futures trading,” Schweizer says. “I had only done stocks trading. After the first couple of weeks of class, I set up the account, took the online course, and then started the trading challenge using scenarios real in every way except the money. It’s a great way of letting students learn. It’s real life, without the consequences.”
Schweizer invested heavily in the energy sector. “It was right after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, and I suspected fuel prices would go up,” he says. “I just didn’t think they would go up as much as they did. Refineries were shut down, and prices were affected pretty quickly. Then I diversified with wheat. I started with $100,000, and ended the week with $132,607.30.”
Even though the risks and rewards were great, Schweizer’s approach to the investment challenge didn’t stray far from the approach he’s learned to follow as a student in the investment fund program, previously known as the Alex. Brown Program. Administered by the College’s Department of Business Management and led by Richard Bookbinder, who brings his industry expertise to the weekly classes, it offers students of all majors an immersive experiential opportunity to learn about investments. The focus, as Bookbinder has taught them, is always on what’s happening in the world.
“As a group, at every meeting, we start out with current events,” Schweizer says. “We read the Wall Street Journal. We re-evaluate our portfolio. We bounce some ideas off Mr. Bookbinder. Then we start looking for the bigger picture. If it’s a consumer product, who supplies it? And we look at competitors. You want the big picture, as far out as you can get. Those are the risk-and-reward pieces.”
Schweizer seems well-suited to the world of finance. “The Alex. Brown program was the big thing that drew me here,” says Schweizer, who grew up in Baltimore and whose grandfather works for the renowned Brown Advisory firm there. “I knew I wanted to go into finance, and Washington College seemed like a good fit.”