Cutting Their Teeth in Financial Markets Before Graduating
Simon Nguy and a Team of Students Use Investments Returns to Fund Scholarships
Simon Nguy, of Hayden, relishes a deep dive into financial market research, and found the ideal program to grow his passion at the University of Idaho.
Nguy is part of the Davis Student Investment Management Group (Davis), a team of students managing over $900,000 in long-term investments. It’s an opportunity for students to cut their teeth in the finance industry before graduation. Davis also helps future students afford college. Returns from investments managed by the group have funded over $300,000 in scholarships.
Nguy studies finance in the College of Business and Economics (CBE), and uses classroom lessons, technology and his own research to decide which stocks to buy and sell for Davis.
“I love doing the nitty gritty, in-depth work investing requires,” Nguy said. “It’s time consuming, but with the help of I scholarships, I’m able to make studying finance my full-time job. I can afford to put in the hours.”
Nguy’s real-world experiences with the financial industry, data and computers are creating new opportunities for him both inside and out of the classroom.
Diving into the Details of Investing
“I initially joined Davis to learn how to save and prepare for my own retirement," Nguy said. "I didn’t know anything about finance but was sucked in when I started researching real investment opportunities in brands I was familiar with.
The investments Nguy oversees for the college include Consumer Discretionary, companies providing nonessential goods and services that people buy if there’s money left over after bills are paid. Nike’s $130 Air Max shoes, an $80 subscription to Disney Plus and Starbucks’ $5 pumpkin spice latte are all goods consumers could do without but enjoy when they can afford them.
“When stock prices of global brands like these fluctuate, it makes headlines,” Nguy said. “Reading the news taught me about the relationship between world events and market reactions. It’s how I learned the fundamentals of investing.”
Exploring the Real World in the Classroom
Nguy also uses what he’s learning in his Management Information Systems (MIS) classes. Investment firms increasingly rely on MIS to transform huge amounts of global financial information into data investors can use to inform their decisions.
“The amount of data available to investors is crazy, and too much for any person to make sense of,” Nguy said. “MIS classes were an opportunity to learn how to turn big financial datasets into useful investing information.”
Each student has their own method for investing, and during weekly presentations they discuss strategy. Nguy’s news- and data-driven method informs his decisions.
“Davis students present to the group every week like we’re employees of a financial firm,” Nguy said. “We give stakeholders (the other students) an analysis of our portfolio’s health, what’s new in our sector, and which companies we’re watching this week.”
Becoming an Investor
Nguy’s personal growth as an investor over a single semester in Davis earned him a promotion to junior portfolio manager.
“Nguy updates databases critical to monitoring the college’s investment portfolio,” said Young Park, professor of finance and faculty advisor to the student group. “He’s also leading the revision of our buy policy. This promotion recognizes his active participation in the group.”
I love doing the nitty gritty, in-depth work investing requires, and with the help of scholarships I’m able to make studying finance my full-time job. I can afford to put in the hours. Simon Nguy
Davis also opens doors to hands-on learning opportunities for students with real businesses and industry outside the college. During summer break, Nguy took an internship as a credit analyst at Mountain West Bank in Coeur d’Alene.
“Davis is a great pipeline to internships that provide real world experience with clients, teams and the financial world,” Nguy said. “I was able to join the bank because I have scholarships and didn’t have to work another job during the summer to pay for school.”
Financial Literacy Through Technology
Nguy’s experience at Mountain West Bank didn’t stop with credit analysis and loans. While helping business owners better understand their financial position, Nguy discovered he enjoyed working with clients face-to-face.
His use of MIS programs and processes repeatedly showed that businesses pay too much for goods. By adjusting the data, Nguy and his clients could see how purchasing the same items for less would improve business, and by how much.
“Combining my love for technology, financial research and working directly with clients at the bank, I can see a career in financial literacy now,” Nguy said. “It could be with individuals, non-profits or small businesses. Before my internship, it wasn’t on my radar.”
Hands-on learning in classes, undergraduate research with Davis and real-world internship experiences gave Nguy a new understanding of what college can offer.
“U of I has been an incredible experience,” Nguy said. “I came here not knowing which area of business to study and will graduate with a degree in finance and experience in the financial industry. Studying at CBE has forever changed my future.”
Article by Ross Wulf, College of Business and Economics
Photography by Melissa Hartley, Creative Services
Published January 2022