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Virtual Dollars with Real Rewards

Mount students expand their Financial Literacy through the Investment Challenge

Brandon Zisa

Brandon Zisa, C'13, is a top competitor in the Investment Challenge.

What would you do with $100,000 dollars? Mount students are deciding that today – with virtual dollars in the stock market.

More than 100 Mount students and seminarians are participating in the Spring 2013 Investment Challenge. Each student begins with $100,000 virtual dollars that can be used to buy shares of ownership in publicly traded companies. The portfolios will be built and managed in real-time through April 26 — when the four students with the highest valued portfolios will receive cash prizes.

“The investment challenge is one of the most exciting events of the Spring semester. The competition has been getting better each year so you have to stay on top of your game if you want to make the largest gains,” says Brandon Zisa, C’13 and a top competitor in the challenge.

The challenge responds to a need in the country today, according to Mount Professor Donald Butt.

“On the whole, financial literacy is a weakness in society and certainly among college students,” said Dr. Butt, assistant professor in the Richard J. Bolte, Sr. School of Business. “The Competition serves to fine tune the ability of Mount students to understand the function of the stock market, the risk inherent in investing in the stock market, and the influence of current events on value changes in publicly traded companies.”

Indeed, students are learning about investment — and it’s even affecting their friends.

“The best part about the challenge is watching my roommate go from not even knowing what the ‘Dow’ stands for, to watching financial news in the morning and talking about expected company earnings for the quarter,” Zisa remarks. “Anyone can learn to play the market. It is a window to a very large world, showing you all different aspects of the economy.”

Faculty from the Bolte School of Business coordinate the launch of the annual Competition, answer questions related to the operation of the hosting web-site, “,” monitor ongoing activities, and host the end of year awards event. 

“It is rewarding to see the enthusiasm with which students go about selecting and managing their investment portfolio,” Dr. Butt said. “Regardless of major and professional pursuit, it is a worthy project to better prepare students to be able to take more control of their financial destiny.” 

The competition is an outgrowth of a university Board of Trustees initiative started more than 10 years ago — when the board’s Endowment Committee allocated $100,000 of “real” assets to a separate student-run investment portfolio, managed by the Finance Club. And since its inception, the student managed portfolio has out-performed each of the major stock market indices — with profits used to purchase couches for the third floor of the Knott Academic Center, contributions to the Bicentennial celebration, and funding prizes for the student investment competition.

With help of the club members, the portfolio has increased about $20,000 since last year. Finance Club executive board include Brian Baldini, president; Brandon Zisa, vice president; Zach O’Grady, secretary; and Greg Mulvaney, treasurer.

To learn more, visit the Mount's Bolte School of Business webpage.

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