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The simulations are over. There’s nothing virtual about it. The term “shadow fund” no longer applies. The William C. Dunkelberg Owl Fund is now, in a word, real.
That’s because the students who manage the Owl Fund – a hands-on approach to investment education at the Fox School of Business – have shifted from conducting mock trades to actual investing. The Owl Fund is a separately managed part of the Temple University endowment in the name of Dunkelberg, a former Fox School dean. The Investment Committee of Temple’s Board of Trustees approved the transition to real money, which represents contributions specifically raised for the Owl Fund.
In September, students began investing approximately $120,000 of the nearly $175,000 in donations the Owl Fund has received. Last semester, Owl Fund managers made 14 recommendations for investment, approving nine stock purchases and rejecting five. The inaugural buy: Energizer. Six of their holdings have gained, and earnings from the fund will support a scholarship in real state and finance named in honor of Jay Lamont, the longtime director of Temple’s Real Estate Institute.
The faculty directors of the Owl Fund have sole authority for trade tickets and are the ones who contact UBS, a global wealth management, investment banking and asset management firm, with buy or sell orders.
The shift from a virtual to real portfolio has come with a host of related changes, including adjusting Owl Fund involvement from one-credit independent studies to a six-credit, two-course sequence in the Department of Finance that starts the spring semester of junior year and finishes with a writing intensive course the fall of senior year.
In addition, more advanced protocols are in place for researching and recommending purchases, voting to approve or deny (must be a two-thirds majority of lead analysts) and overseeing transactions. The Owl Fund appointed its first director of compliance, an accounting major, who ensures transactions are in accordance with the fund’s investment policy and aren’t compromised, for example, by a student’s personal holdings. The director of portfolio analysis then determines the timing of trades and monitors overall performance.
Money is invested across six sectors (such as technology, health care and energy/utilities; a seventh sector is cash), and economics majors work with lead analysts to provide overall market trends to ensure cohesive recommendations across sectors.
“We are running this exactly as the corporate world runs it,” said finance Professor Jonathan A. Scott, academic director of the Fox Honors program and managing director of the Owl Fund.
The Fox School hired Cynthia Axelrod, a chartered financial analyst, as an assistant professor of finance, director of the Owl Fund and the lead professor for Owl Fund Seminar I and II. Axelrod joins Fox with 25 years of professional experience as a senior securities analyst and portfolio manager.
“The Owl Fund is now a money management firm with real-time buy and sell decisions, and provides critical fundamental stock analysis,” Axelrod said.
Chief Investment Officer Jordan Moss, a finance major from Los Angeles, said he’s seen more discipline among analysts with researching, screening and suggesting stocks.
“With the shadow portfolio, when you’re not dealing with real money, you can take risks that you normally wouldn’t take,” he said. “When we’re dealing with an endowment, we have to take ourselves a lot more seriously and be a lot more thorough with our analysis.”
A new mock fund, called the Fox Fund, has been established so underclassmen can learn investment basics and gain exposure to Fox’s Capital Markets Room, which features financial analytics tools such as Bloomberg and Capital IQ.
Owl Fund President Jordan Long said that establishing the Fox Fund – the “minor leagues,” as he put it – has further emphasized the importance of mentorship and teamwork when investing, both time and money.
“People are here because they want to be here,” Moss added. “It’s too difficult for someone to only be half dedicated to it.”