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Hands-On Experience With the Smith Investment Club: Priceless

By Kristen Cole

As a college student and mother of a 6-year-old, Annie Parker does not have spare money to invest.

So until Parker saves enough to do so, the Ada Comstock Scholar is learning all she can with $100,000 donated to the college four years ago to launch the Smith College Investment Club, along with the $20,000 or so the club has earned in the years since.

The T-shirt that Parker and other club members recently designed spoofs a national ad campaign in summing up the experience: “Cheese and crackers for meetings: $17.48.

Chartering a bus to Morgan Stanley: $1,046. Playing with $120K of someone else’s money: Priceless.”

According to Parker, co-president of the 35-member club this year with Michelle Wong ’08, the immediate goal of the organization is to analyze its portfolio of stocks and determine whether the $20,000 return was as good as it could have been given the market fluctuations.

Now, a few years after the club formed with donations from an alumna, Goldman Sachs and several others, it has some “history” to assess, Parker says.

“Originally the club focused on making purchases. Because the money was sitting in a bank account, the goal was to get it invested,” says Parker, adding, “You can’t study how well something has done until you have something to study.”

With that in mind, the club recently purchased a software package designed for financial planners in order to monitor the performances of such stock market indicators as the Dow Jones and Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

During the fall semester, members also accepted an invitation to visit Lavanya Anantharaman ’04, who was instrumental in running the Smith College Investment Club during its first two years and is now an analyst in the Investment Banking Division of Morgan Stanley.

Club members chartered a bus to her New York City office and spent an afternoon visiting with the diverse group of Smith alumnae who work for the global financial services firm. The trip fit into the club’s mission of providing financial education.

“We wanted the group to come here and see what it is all about,” says Anantharaman. “As an economics major at Smith, I knew I wanted to get into this field and the investment club reinforced my interest.”

The Smith Investment Club is modeled after an investment bank, with club members assigned to six sectors of the economy: energy and utilities, consumer retail, financial bonds and services, health care, technology, media and communications.

Club members are also planning to produce a “Making Sense of Money” column for The Sophian, to field financial questions from the community. “I want to make this knowledge accessible to everyone,” says Parker.

But beyond that last line on the club’s T-shirt, gathering and dispensing information for investment is one thing, while acting on the information with your own money is another.

Now in her third year at Morgan Stanley, Anantharaman, 24, has not yet decided to take the risk and invest any of her own money. “I put my money into a savings account—pretty boring, huh?”

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