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Investing In The Future

Local Students Gain Hands-On Investment Experience with the Roadrunner Financial Group

At Ramapo College, the student-managed Roadrunner Financial Group (RFG) is guiding the next generation of investors towards a very bright future. 

Brian Goldberg, advisor of RFG and professor at the Anisfield School of Business, says that the Trading Lab is by far the most exciting aspect of his career at Ramapo thus far. 

Brian found academia “by accident”. A former student at Ramapo himself, Brian kept in touch with one of his professors over the years.

“We kept in touch through old-school networking. I was a full-time day trader at the time when I was given the opportunity to run a Financial Trading Lab at Ramapo.”

At the time, Brian was feeling a bit burnt out from day trading; so he decided to entertain the interview. He was offered the position and given free rein to run the Trading Lab as he saw fit. 

Reaping the rewards

Now at Ramapo for over 12 years, Brian finds the experience to be incredibly rewarding. He calls it his “accidental job that stuck”. 

The Roadrunner Financial Group is a student-managed investment fund. Initially, the students managed a portfolio on behalf of the Business School. Brian took over as advisor in 2012. 

“We had tried a few times to get what would become the Roadrunner Financial Group up and running. We needed the right group of dedicated students to manage a simulated portfolio. They worked their tails off to impress the Dean of the Business School, and we finally were approved in 2015.”

“We were given $50,000 from the Business School in 2016. We trade through Vanguard.”

Today, their top stock holdings are: Microsoft, Palo Alto Networks, Visa, Adobe Systems and Apple. For 2023, they handily outperformed the S&P 500, returning 34.45% vs. the S&P's 24%.

The members are everything

The Roadrunner Financial Group members are not just business majors - they can be from any major at Ramapo. Brian feels this makes their group special. All students at Ramapo have access to learn about trading. 

“There are student-managed fund groups at many schools. What I think differentiates us is that anyone can join - any major, any year. So you could be a freshman biology major who has an interest in the stock market or financial literacy, and come and join us. There is no knowledge required and everyone is welcome at our meetings.”

However, the student members do need to earn the right to vote in the portfolio decisions. They accept applications for this “Investment Committee” every spring. 

The Investment Committee has fluctuated between 5-10 members, historically. The group has around 50 members total, with about 30 members attending weekly. 

“A non-voting member can come and go as they please. A voting member needs to show up regularly because we're counting on you.”

The group is performing well, and their portfolio is close to the highest it's ever been. While the majority of Student-Managed Investment Funds go entirely to cash every summer, the RFG Investment Committee stays in touch over the summer months. They meet in person or via Webex to discuss the portfolio and to brainstorm ways to improve and prepare for the upcoming year. 

Strong advice

The group also benefits from a strong Advisory Board that meets with the students to discuss their portfolio. They can network with these business professionals and receive fantastic feedback on ideas. 

The company Polen in Florida has been a strong supporter of the group and a great role model on strategy to help the group run a growth-oriented portfolio.

Giving back

The Roadrunner Financial Group has another goal - giving back. 

The group funds an Annual Scholarship for a student leader from any major on campus that is passionate about the stock market, demonstrates leadership, and is actively involved on campus. Financial need is also a factor. 

For the past two years, the group has also held a Basketball Tournament Fundraiser to raise $1,500 for Directrelief.org. They also raised $2,000 in aid for Ukraine, with over 100 students in the Ramapo gym raising money. 

“We're trying to do a bit more philanthropy. We also did a Food Drive in the Fall to benefit our local food pantry on campus.”

Real-world learning

The students certainly learn about managing their money for the future and are given a rare opportunity to understand the stock market. However, there are also other surprising lessons gained.

“Students often say they feel more comfortable with their public speaking skills. At the end of the day, investing is a life skill. Having the ability to take ownership of their own portfolio gives them the ability to create their own financial future.”

Job opportunities are another perk of the group. 

“It speaks volumes on a resume to be a member of a financial group, which helps students land internships, and even full time jobs.”

“One past president is now at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Another is at Gore Technologies. The last president, Matt Wisneski, is an Investment Banking Analyst at the DAK Group. Many students have found real world opportunities from being a member of this group.”

Investing in the future

Members of the Roadrunner Financial Group are investing in a more safe future for themselves and others. 

“It's so much easier now for students because brokers, such as Robin Hood, allow purchases of fractional shares. I think that's great. In our meetings, students share ideas and talk through the news and what's going on in the economy.”

Performance-wise, Brian says that the students are doing a fantastic job and he couldn't be more proud of them. 

“Being the Trading Lab Coordinator is my favorite part of my job at Ramapo. The students continue to impress me every year, and it's an honor to work with them, for sure.”

For information on the group, visit:

www.ramapo.edu/clubs/organization/roadrunner-financial-group/

For information on the scholarship, visit: www.ramapo.edu/scholarships/single/roadrunner-financial-group-annual-scholarship/

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