First in the MENA region, AUB-OSB launches $1 million student-managed investment fund

A selected group of students from the Suliman S. Olayan School (OSB) at the American University of Beirut (AUB) is kick starting a distinctive Investment Management Program (IMP) to enhance the learning experience and bridge the gap between financial theory and practice through a student-managed investment fund from a generous $1 million fund.

The first of its kind in Lebanon and the MENA region, the signature program will enhance talented business students’ practical skills by providing them with a holistic understanding of investment management. During the two-year extra-curricular program, students will receive rigorous training on asset allocation, security selection, portfolio management, valuation as well as industry and macroeconomic analysis.

“Students who enroll in the IMP program will experience trading and financial markets first-hand,” said Dr. Wassim Dbouk, associate professor of finance at OSB and the program co-director. “By undergoing such an experience, students gain, in addition to the practical trading and investment managing know-how, a high degree of maturity and team-playing skills that would make them highly desired job candidates."

This year’s inaugural program has accepted six undergraduate and graduate students from across business disciplines to be trained as equity research analysts. In the second year of the program, students will rise to become portfolio managers. The innovative program runs in parallel to students’ regular coursework, and also includes an applied investments course taught by a practitioner from a leading investment management firm.

“We are striving to include ever more value-added learning opportunities for our students and this is another great example of our stepping up to that challenge,” said Dr. Steve Harvey, dean of OSB.

Miriam Jreij, a master's in finance student, cannot stress enough what she has been learning as a first-year participant: “The program is the perfect platform to practice what we learned in the classroom and apply those theories to become acquainted with the real world of trading. It is a great way to start a career in asset management because it provides a unique hands-on experience with managing $1 million.

Member Arman Khederlarian, who is currently pursuing a dual degree of bachelor’s in business administration and arts in economics, said that since he was selected for the program, his research and financial modeling skills have improved immensely. “These two skills are essential to being able to derive a clear and holistic view on the stock and company that we are analyzing.”

Khederlarian also pointed out that workshops and weekly sessions delivered by OSB have enhanced his public speaking and communication skills. “This program has provided us with priceless skills and knowledge, which was exemplified when we traveled to NYC through the program and were able to have stimulating and productive discussions with fund managers who hold elite positions in the investment world.”

Throughout the program, students will be guided by the Investment Advisory Committee, a focused group of leading financial practitioners and OSB faculty.

During the program, students are advised to complete two internships -- one within the MENA region and another at a major financial hub, which could include London, New York, or Singapore.

“Despite the changes that FinTech is bringing to the world of finance, the need for skilled investment managers will not subside,” noted Dr. Ibrahim Jamali, associate professor of finance and program co-director. “With Lebanon establishing a Sovereign Wealth Fund to invest the proceeds of its hydrocarbon wealth and regional economies looking to diversify away from oil, competent investment managers will be sought locally and regionally. The IMP prepares outstanding students to become successful investment managers whose rich array of skills will be desired by employers locally, regionally and globally.”

The OSB-AUB student-managed investment fund was established by a generous gift from AUB International Advisory Council member Mrs. Hutham Olayan and AUB Trustee Walid Chammah. In a joint quote donors stated: “There is nothing like hands-on experience with real capital to teach the fundamentals, challenges, and opportunities of responsible investing. We applaud Dean Harvey for initiating the Investment Management Program for the benefit of talented and driven students at OSB. And we are very proud to have contributed seed capital for the Investment Management Fund. May it prosper and grow!”