Students found new investment society

    The world of finance and investment can be a tricky one to navigate, especially for those with little or no real experience. Savings, property, stock markets, portfolios and business are all areas that require time and effort to learn how to manage. The recently student founded Undergraduate Investment Society offers students, including graduate students, from all majors and with all levels of experience a chance to develop their financial techniques and skills.

    “”The purpose of this club is to educate and empower our members with financial knowledge,”” UIS president Ann Ko said. “”Our targeted audience is anybody who has the general interest and desire to learn about the financial market, investing, personal finance or career preparation.””

    The major purpose of UIS is to help students prepare for money management and investment both in college and after graduation. In addition to financial knowledge, the organization emphasizes leadership, teamwork and problem-solving skills that are applicable to real-world situations.

    “”Our goal as an organization is to give the students at UCSD help in taking the first steps to become independent when dealing with their finances,”” UIS vice president Sunali Chokshi said. “”No one wants to be told what to do with their money, but neither does anyone want to make a mistake and lose their savings because they had no experience in dealing with finance.””

    Students pay a $15 annual membership fee to take advantage of the programs offered by UIS. The club provides informative workshops, which cover topics such as investment basics, personal finance, career preparation, and resume/interview preparation. The first such workshop took place on Jan. 22 and covered investment basics and techniques for investment analysis.

    “”The first workshop was informative and a good start,”” said Amar B. Doshi, an electrical and computer engineering graduate student. “”Personally, I’d like to see more workshops that are in-depth and nonrushed about the basics of interpreting financial data.””

    In addition to workshops, UIS will also host a series of guest speakers who are professionals from the fields of investment, finance and business. The speakers will discuss topics such as private equity, investment management and venture capitalism. For its first speaking event on Jan. 29, the club invited Dave Molnar, second vice president of the financial firm Smith Barney, to share his insights on private wealth management.

    Workshops and guest speakers alternate each week with general body meetings, and the club also plans social events to allow members to share information and develop networking connections.

    “”Becoming a member is definitely a worthwhile investment,”” Ko said. “”The knowledge that is obtained through our events will be beneficial to our members whether it be in the work force, or if they just wanted to invest their money in the stock market as a hobby.””

    UIS will also provide internship opportunities to members through its corporate connections. According to Ko, the club’s corporate contacts include Mission Ventures, Smith Barney and other financial firms.

    The UIS was founded partly because there was no other similar financial organization on campus that addressed the questions and needs of students from all academic backgrounds and with all levels of investment experience.

    “”We realized that there wasn’t really a club out there targeted toward investing,”” said Kevin Jiang, the club’s director of technologies. “”We wanted our club to be open to all majors and people, unlike some business clubs that want only business and economics majors.””

    Another advantage of the organization is that several of its officers have investment experience and are interning at companies that provide them with a unique financial perspective.

    For example, Chokshi currently holds an internship in the Space Technology Sector at the global defense company Northrop Grumman and has been investing for four years. Jiang has been investing his money as a hobby for about three years.

    As a third-year premedical bioengineering major, he interns at Syrrx, a start-up drug discovery company.

    “”My internship at Syrrx has actually helped me with my financial experience since people I work with are all avid investors,”” Jiang said.

    According to both Jiang and Ko, the main problems students have with managing their finances are inexperience and lack of understanding.

    “”Some general tips I would offer other college students about investing is to always remember to invest what you can afford to lose [and] to continually seek for more knowledge and experience in the investment world, for it may help lay out your financial future,”” Ko said.

    Student responses to the club and its activities have been positive. Some have emphasized the benefits of discussing financial topics in order to learn and exchange ideas.

    “”I’ve been looking for a good place to gain knowledge about personal finance and investing theory,”” Doshi said. “”Although a lot of information in terms of reading books and on the Internet is available, I think this type of a discussion and live forum like UIS is a better way to start learning the fundamentals.””

    Others have focused on the practical, real-world application of concepts and techniques presented by the organization.

    “”I think UIS is a step forward in terms of giving students a financial education,”” student member Vinit Modi said. “”The topics covered are very common, and one comes across them every day on the news. I gain a lot of insight into the operations of the real world and I can relate what I learned to the markets.””

    Overall, UIS seeks to make the world of finance a little less confusing and less impenetrable for college students.

    “”We are giving the students of UCSD some Wall Street smarts and hoping that they can take away some beneficial knowledge about what to do with their money,”” Chokshi said.

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