Fordham Students Manage Investment Fund Worth Two Million Dollars


Taught by Professor James Kelly, SMIF seeks to provide students with real-world investing experience before their post-graduation careers. (Courtesy of Instagram)

At Fordham, the Student Managed Investment Fund (SMIF) is a global-balanced fund in which students manage a portfolio of the major asset classes of equities, fixed income, options & exotics, commodities and real estate. Students involved in SMIF manage $2 million of the University’s endowment.
A fusion of a finance-elective class and a club, students can apply to join SMIF in their junior or senior year and participate for two semesters. Taught by Professor James Kelly, SMIF seeks to provide students with real-world investing experience before their post-graduation careers.
Additionally, there is a new SMIF program being piloted at Lincoln Center focusing on various Environmental Social Governance (ESG) goals, using more quantitative methods than the value-investing strategy of Rose Hill SMIF.

In their first semester, analysts cover an equity sector, fixed income, foreign exchange, emerging markets or real estate. Once analysts complete their first semester, they move on to become portfolio managers, or PM’s, of their sector. PM’s are also members of the investment committee, which decides the investments that go into the portfolio. Students have the opportunity to pitch two securities within their sector.

Collectively, students attempt to outperform the benchmark and grow the endowment each year. Analysts go through an “orientation process,” which teaches them fundamental and technical analysis tools.

An important aspect of SMIF is that students not only learn from class and Kelly, but also from each other. PMsact as mentors to analysts, as they share their expertise from the previous semester.
“As an analyst, you work closely alongside your portfolio manager, sit next to them in class and hear what they have to say about how macro themes apply to your sector. Those discussions are really valuable,” explained Natalia Kimmelshue, GSB ’23, consumer discretionary PM and technical analyst.
The club aims to increase students’ responsibilities as they gain experience and knowledge in their sector over the course of two semesters.

“My job is essentially to stay up to date with my portfolio, pitch new ideas, monitor existing positions and to guide my analyst,” said Bobby Singh, GSB ’23, financials PM and risk manager.

The fund also has three top executive staff members, which are two Managing Directors and one Chief Investment Officer.

“My role as CIO is mainly making sure everyone is doing the correct research, doing right by the university and managing the chemistry and personalities we have at SMIF,” said Joseph Nussbaum, GSB ’23, chief investment officer and commodities and materials PM.

Investment and security analysis is a prerequisite for the club, which Gabelli students typically take in the first semester of their junior year. With 15 spots opening each semester, SMIF is selective, and applicants should aim for demonstrating interest in markets, as well as networking with PM’s.

“Anyone who is interested in the markets or wants to get hands-on experience should definitely try to apply and network with those in the program,” said Singh.

“Try to learn as much as you can about the markets and stay educated on financial portfolio management because learning the terminology and strategy of portfolio managers will set you up to be prepared,” said Kimmelshue. “Take things one step further from what your hearing about the market, ask yourself how this event would affect the allocation of the portfolio.”

Managing real money is a unique experience of the club, making the program an aspiration for many students interested in the financial services industry.

“In my experience, it’s a rare instance where everyone in the class is focused on something they enjoy. We’re all finance majors, so at any time we could be on the phone talking about stocks, and you’re not going to be able to find that passion in any other class,” said Nussbaum.