Entrepreneurship major wins investment competition StockTrak, earned 187 percent return
Since the fall of 1993, students at Central Michigan University have battled for stock market supremacy.
This year’s online investment competition, StockTrak, had more than 310 student participants each given a fake $500,000 account to invest.
Three Oaks senior Brandon Vance, an entrepreneurship major, won this year’s competition, with an ending portfolio balance of a little more than $1.4 million, a 187 percent return. He was awarded dinner with the top 30 participants and $1,000 cash prize.
Stocktrak is similar to real-world trading.
“When you make trades, it’s about the same — you put in the symbol and the amount you want to buy or short stock — or place limit orders you can trade just about anything you can trade in the U.S.,” said James Felton, department chairman of finance and law. “The biggest difference is that people can just go crazy. They can take a ton of risk that they wouldn’t in real life.”
Felton said he uses various media sources to keep up on the markets.
“I track the markets while I watch CNBC in the morning drinking coffee, check Yahoo! Finance during the day and read the Wall Street Journal,” Felton said. “It’s all just stuff that I hope students start doing. The best benefit is that students start getting interested in it and see how amazing of a career it could be.”
Vance said he took FIN 315: Principles of Investments just for fun and the class was the reason he signed up for StockTrak in the first place. He said he mainly traded futures and only traded three stocks; Apple, Google and Gentex.
“In the beginning, since I didn’t really know what I was doing, I talked to a friend of mine who did StockTrak,” Vance said. “After explaining everything to me, he told me ‘Go research prices and buy and short stuff you think is going to go up or down.’ In the beginning, I’d spend four to five hours of just research. After the first week, then I understood more, so I could get on there and be done in five minutes.”
The entrepreneurship major said he was very surprised he won, since he’s only taken a few finance classes. Vance also said it was a great learning experience.
“I think everybody should definitely give it a shot at least once, even if you don’t have a finance major,” Vance said. “I had no intention or even thought for a second I would have won, or even top 25, and after it only takes one good week in doing good and you realize ‘Hey, you have a shot.’”
Vance said he owed his success to Bruce Benet, who taught his FIN 315: Principles of Investments class.
Benet, a professor of finance and law, also created Benet’s Bull and Bear — a bronze trophy of a bear and bull fighting that will be engraved with the name of the StockTrak every year. Vance’s will be the first name on the award.
Benet said stock trading is a valuable skill for students, whether or not they are finance majors.
“It’s a good thing to know when you get out of college,” Benet said. “You need to know what to do with excess income.”
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