A master’s degree is a clear educational advantage, but in a tough economy, it can still be hard to compete with undergraduates with a few years of work experience under their belts. To address this challenge, IIT Stuart adjunct faculty member Marat Molyboga has designed an entire course around real world issues and practical experiences.
MSF 546: Quantitative Investment Strategies covers a number of investment topics, including asset pricing theory, risk management, fund selection, and asset allocation and execution. In addition to lecture and theory, Molyboga’s approach incorporates challenging and rewarding opportunities for students to apply their knowledge.
Central to the course are two competitive group assignments. First, students — the majority of whom are enrolled in IIT Stuart’s Master of Science in Finance program — develop, backtest, evaluate, and present a trading strategy to a panel of industry experts from proprietary and institutional trading firms. The second project, which is larger in scope, involves suggesting a comprehensive qualitative and quantitative approach to portfolio management, which is also evaluated by a panel of experts. “These experts each have 20 years of professional experience. The students have to present results that make sense, because it’s not possible to fool practitioners,” insists Molyboga, whose panelists appreciate the students’ work and even learn new ideas from the presentations.
Just this semester, Molyboga has engaged experts from LAS Trading; Emil Van Essen; Sun Trading; Northwestern Mutual; Efficient Capital Management; Jackson Asset Management; Evanston Capital Management; DRW; Caherciveen Partners; Elkhorn Investments; and Mesirow Advanced Strategies to interact with students as project panelists and guest speakers in his course.
“My class is difficult and requires a lot of work,” writes Molyboga in the course description, while also explaining that the course is designed to reward students with skills and experience valued in the financial industry. Students who are selected as winners by the panels receive extra credit, and with student permission, Molyboga shares their reports with contacts from the industry. “Hopefully, that will open doors as they apply for jobs and internships,” notes Molyboga.
“It’s all geared toward success in real life. The students enjoy being pushed and are happy with the results,” states Molyboga. The competitions — and the competitive mindset that students develop — reflect what graduates can expect from this type of work. This approach helps students develop the credentials they will need in their careers. “My students are bright, and my course offers them more experience putting themselves out there and clearly demonstrating to their future employers that they will be able to add value."
Photo courtesy of waterstechnology.