Bowdoin Finance Society Tracks the Markets

Tom Gawarkiewicz ’15 and Ujal Santchurn ’15

Bowdoin College Finance Society co-presidents Tom Gawarkiewicz ’15 and Ujal Santchurn ’15

Tom Tyree ’16 managed to make a 13.59% return on $100,000 in just six weeks. It’s too bad in a way that he was dabbling in virtual money. But no matter, Tyree won this semester’s campus trading contest and was awarded a cash prize of $100 for his accomplishment.

Twice a year, once in the fall and spring, the student-run Bowdoin College Finance Society organizes a stock market contest, open to all students, to allow players to invest fake cash in real bonds, stocks, mutual funds, etc. The point is to help familiarize students with the stock market without risking losing real money, the club’s website promises. “Having a basic understanding of investment and risk management strategies will be helpful [after leaving Bowdoin.] We’ll need to manage our own savings at some point.”

Prizes are also given to the student who made the best single trade and to the student who made the best contributions during BCFS meetings.

This year Tom Gawarkiewicz ’15 and Ujal Santchurn ’15 are co-presidents of the organization, which has about 120 listed members, with a core group of 15 to 30 more dedicated students. “We cater to people with all sorts of interests or backgrounds in finance,” Santchurn said. “It’s not all about investment banking,” Gawarkiewicz clarified.

The club makes a point to explore different career paths in finance. It frequently invites alumni to Skype in during club meetings to talk about their jobs in investment banking, hedge funds, public policy, financial management, venture capital or private equity.

Throughout the year, BCFS holds weekly evening meetings to not only talk with alumni, but also to discuss current events and explore financial concepts. Recently, Santchurn and Gawarkiewicz opened a weekly meeting by bringing up Twitter’s public offering, which was dominating headlines that day.

“This was a big week for Twitter,” Gawarkiewicz noted. “”Twitter began its IPO offering shares at $26. Once on the market the stock price quickly rose and closed at $45.”

Santchurn added, “The deal was bittersweet, as the company could have made up to $1.2 billion more had it offered the stock at the higher price, while early investors were pleased to be able to sell their stock at the higher price.”

Tom Gawarkiewicz talks about Twitter's IPO at a club meeting

Tom Gawarkiewicz talks about Twitter’s IPO at a club meeting

A student asked whether the low valuation may have occurred because bankers were wary after watching the poor performance of Facebook’s IPO. Santchurn accepted that as a possibility, and then walked club members through a prepared presentation on the process of an IPO, explaining the benefits and drawbacks to a company.

At the meeting, Santchurn and Gawarkiewicz also touched on other topics: Disney’s stock price after the company announced a deal with Netflix; the U.S. GDP and the prospect for future economic growth; quantitative easing; European inflation rates.

Santchurn and Gawarkiewicz are both economics and math double majors. Gawarkiewicz says he’s interested in pursuing a a career in public finance or policy as he’s interested in macroeconomics, government and the “little changes in the Fed’s decisions that can have widespread effects.” Santchurn says he’s drawn to investment banking and corporate finance. “I like to look at a company and evaluate its strategic options, and analyze what effect such decisions might have on its valuation,” he said.

Bowdoin College Finance Society’s other main contribution to campus life is bringing in a group called Training the Street twice a year to offer a day-long course to students on Saturday. The course focuses on teaching “practical applications in finance,” Santchurn said, such as spreadsheet modeling, financial statement analysis and corporate valuation.

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