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03-23-2009

Clarkson University Students Win Financial Portfolio Design Contest

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/clearindexes.j pg ]

A team of Clarkson University School of Business students finished on top in the Next Generation Portfolio Design Contest run by Clear Indexes LLC.

Creating an inflation-protected portfolio, the team of Clarkson engineering & management seniors Bradley J. Argentine of Canastota, N.Y., and Matthew P. Delaney of Lake Placid, N.Y., tied with three other teams for second place, winning the top award of $1,000. Financal portfolio competition

"The contest provides us with an excellent opportunity to showcase our students' finance education on a national level," said Prof. Allan A. Zebedee, who is the faculty advisor for the Clarkson Strategic Investments group and teaches investments. "Our students competed against students from top academic programs, including New York University and MIT, and did extremely well."

The goal of the competition was to create a new portfolio, which could be marketed as a standalone financial product, like an exchange traded fund (ETF). The portfolio had to address a segment of the financial markets not currently served with potential mass appeal to the investment community.

"We created a multi-sector inflation-protected ETF," said Delaney. "With all the inflation pressure in market prices now, we figure that eventually there'll be increased government spending with government bailouts, which will necessitate the printing of currency in the U.S. and all over world.

"When that happens, it creates inflationary pressure on the market. The goal of our fund is to invest in products that combat that pressure, like precious metals, corn, wheat, crude oil, soy bean commodities and floating rate bonds, spread across multiple sectors to reduce risk."

Clarkson students taking four out of 11 honorable mentions were senior engineering & management majors Andy S. Badger and Jonathan M. Brown, both of Canandaigua, N.Y; financial information & analysis majors junior Reon P. Curry of Nassau, Bahamas; juniors Nicole L. Waldow of Rochester, N.Y., and Nicole E. Wilder of Huntington, N.Y.; and senior Daniel J. Zehler of Alden, N.Y..

Waldow and Wilder created an executive donor index, composing companies of corporate donors to the Obama campaign. "We weighted the portfolio based on the amount contributed," says Waldow. "Our rationale was that insider information would benefit a company, otherwise why donate money to campaign?"

"This is a great competition because it not only allows students to design a financial product based on their education, but it also forces them to consider its broad appeal," said Zebedee. "While finance is generally thought of as a math-based discipline, this project clearly shows creativity is an important aspect of the major. Overall I am very pleased to see our students recognized for their hard work and creativity."

"The competition fused the material we learned in the classroom with the real world and showed how what we learn can be applied to solve issues in economic markets today," said Delaney.

The Clarkson Strategic Investment Group sponsored the University's participation, which was open to all students. The group is a student-run organization promoting financial literacy among undergraduates. "We have a portfolio and help people understand what's behind personal investing," said chair Kylie Reid of Wallkill, N.Y., a financial information & analysis sophomore.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in six alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Clarkson University School of Business finished on top in the Clear Next Generation Portfolio Design Contest. Front row (left to right): Kylie Reid and Nicole L Waldow. Back row: Andrew S. Badger, Daniel J Zehler, Matthew P Delaney, and Allan A. Zebedee.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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