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Chaifetz School of Business Introduces Industry Mentor Program for Applied Portfolio Management Students

The Applied Portfolio Management (APM) course at Saint Louis University provides finance students in the Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business with the opportunity to actively manage a portion of the University’s endowment fund. This fall, the program is launching an industry-mentorship program to connect current APM students with leaders in the St. Louis region’s robust finance industry.

Dr. Thomas Doellman teaches a class in the Data Analytics Lab

Dr. Thomas Doellman, professor of finance, teaches a class in the Edward Jones Data Analytics Lab.

The Chaifetz School introduced its APM course in the fall of 2002 through the vision and efforts of finance professor Brian Betker, Ph.D. The first class of SLU APM students managed $500,000 of the University’s endowment funds. In the two decades since then, the portfolio’s value has grown to nearly $1.9 million. In 2016, a distribution from the portfolio helped fund the construction of the Edward Jones Data Analytics Lab, a new state-of-the-art facility with 12 Bloomberg terminals now home to the APM course.
 
Nearly 20 years since its founding, APM remains a popular and prestigious option for the Chaifetz School’s top finance students. With full support from the entire finance department, demand remains high for a limited number of APM seats. Only 15-18 students are accepted into the class each year.
 
While APM already provides undergraduate students a unique experiential learning opportunity to work as equity analysts, Thomas Doellman, Ph.D., professor of finance at the Chaifetz School, saw an opportunity to make the program even more beneficial to its participants by adding a mentorship component.
 
“We work with an industry mentor every year at the CFA Research Challenge, and I thought, why are we not trying to include something like this in our course,” Doellman said of an annual competition for university finance students that seeks to promote best practices in financial analysis and professional ethics. “The students love working with the industry mentor, and the industry mentor is volunteering because they want to do this, so they’ve been very passionate and enthusiastic about working with the students.”

Two students at work in the Data Analytics Lab

Students at work in the Data Analytics Lab. Only the top finance students at the Chaifetz School are accepted into the APM course each year. 

The APM course already receives positive student reviews for its experiential learning component, according to Doellman. “Students always love to see that what they’re doing in class is directly related to, or the same as, work that’s actually done in the industry,” he said. Doellman believes providing students the chance to make industry connections while learning the latest investment strategies directly from professionals in the field through APM’s new mentorship program will make students even more competitive in the job market post-graduation.     
 
Mentors from Edward Jones, Wells Fargo Wealth and Investment Management and Asset Consulting Group joined the program this fall. Representatives from NISA Investment Advisors are slated to join in 2021.
 
Doellman says students and mentors are loving the program so far. “With the addition of this industry mentor component to Applied Portfolio Management, I think we’ve really made it one of the most unique courses we offer at the Chaifetz School.”