USC Upstate’s Business School Launches Investment Society

April 25, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Spartanburg, S.C. — The George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics at the University of South Carolina Upstate announces the formation of the Jesse Bridges Investment Society Fund, a student-led investment fund that will start with a portfolio of $100,000 in the fall semester of 2011.

“Student investment funds are increasingly popular on college campuses,” says Dr. Darrell Parker, dean of the Johnson College. He adds, “We are now fortunate and excited to offer this real-world and real-time investment practice to our students which adds a dimension of practical experience to their overall business education.”

Top business students with an interest in finance will make securities selections, gaining real-world experience in portfolio management, security and risk analysis, and the logistics of portfolio management. Under the guidance of a faculty member and an advisory committee, students will make buy and sell decisions and provide monthly and annual reports to the society. Open discussions, collaborations and sharing of research will be encouraged as the students work in a team.

Chuck Reback, assistant professor of economics and finance, will advise the group in its first year. Reback says that the juniors and seniors in the society will receive academic credit for their work in managing and growing the funds.

“Ultimately, they’re running this,” says Reback of the students. He will ask questions and provide guidance, but Reback plans to give them as much flexibility as possible, while ensuring they operate within certain rules for portfolio diversification. The inaugural student group will consist of 10-15 students who will be selected from an applicant pool. Finance and investment classes are prerequisites to membership in the society.

The seed money for this investment society fund came from George Dean Johnson, Jr., namesake of the Johnson College and Spartanburg business icon, and his wife Susu Johnson. His business mentor was Jesse Bridges, who founded Security Finance in 1955. Now under the leadership of his daughter Susan Bridges, the Spartanburg-based company has over 900 offices across the country. Jesse Bridges passed away in 1989, but was known for his interest in and support of the economic development of downtown Spartanburg.

“The reason I suggested naming the fund for Mr. Bridges is that his business is one of the outstanding enterprises in our community…it has been built on excellent conservative management,” says Johnson. He adds, “Jesse Bridges was a creative entrepreneur, a successful investor and a major supporter of our community.  I can think of no more appropriate person to name this society for than Jesse Bridges.”  

“My family is very honored – and my father would be too –  at this sort of recognition,” says Susan Bridges. “George and my father had a love of Spartanburg going back through the years.” Bridges says that either she or a family member will be involved with the society in a consulting role as it becomes established.

All profits will be reinvested into the fund until the portfolio reaches $1 million in value. At that point, five percent of the earnings will be distributed to the Johnson College of Business for scholarships and other programs. Johnson says that he knows students will be motivated by knowing that the money will be invested for the school based on their recommendations.

“Students will develop the mindset of a fund owner,” says Reback. “They will each do individual analysis, present their recommendations to the class, and make important decisions that will have consequences. This gives these students hands-on experience managing money and it will give them a leg up in today’s job market” he adds.

For more information about the Jesse Bridges Investment Fund Society, contact Chuck Reback at creback@uscupstate.edu or Darrell Parker at dparker@uscupstate.edu.

This student group developed the fund proposal in the fall 2010 semester, continued their research during the spring 2011 semester and prepared the initial investment portfolio.  The group will do presentations in classes to explain the project and recruit next year’s participants.  From left to right, Instructor of Management Jeff Smith, Andrew Ullery, Matthew Squires, David White, Brittany Parkhurst, Daniel Andrew, Michael Depp, Johanna Ebenhag, Arlin Ashemore.