Students in the Bowden Investment Group (BIG) have the unique opportunity to manage a real stock portfolio and gain hands-on experience in financial analysis and portfolio management. Members of the BIG are a select group of high-achieving students majoring or minoring in Finance and Banking. Students are selected to participate in the BIG based on their academic standing, their finance knowledge, and their interest in investments and financial analysis. Students do not simply enroll in the classes; rather, students apply and then only the best candidates are invited to join. The application process begins early in the spring semester. An interview is required as part of the application process. Applications for the 2023-2024 BIG class will open in the Spring of 2023.
If you are interested in applying to the Bowden Investment Group, please read all of the following information carefully.
The Investment Management Courses
Students accepted into the Bowden Investment Group are required to enroll in the investment management courses offered by the Department of Finance, Banking and Insurance (FIN 4620, Investment Management I, and FIN 4622, Investment Management II). The classes are a combination of lectures, textbook readings, and hands-on financial analysis. During each semester a significant amount of time is used for students to make presentations of their analyses or to make presentations of other information relevant to the management of the fund. There are exams and quizzes in the courses; however, a significant portion of the course grade is based on presentations, analyst reports, and participation.
The primary focus of the coursework is to learn how to conduct fundamental financial analysis on companies. Students conduct in-depth analysis considering all relevant information including economic conditions, the industry, company strategy, and the company's financial statements. Students then use this information to value the company stock and make a recommendation regarding whether the stock is a worthwhile investment. The skills developed during this process are applicable in a wide range of finance-related careers including investment banking, security analysis, portfolio management, wealth management, financial consulting, and commercial lending. Recruiters frequently comment that the students in the BIG gain skills that give them a significant advantage as they begin their careers.
Substantial emphasis is also placed on developing Bowden Investment Group Members into finance professionals. This effort includes development of skills that will benefit students as they enter the workforce. The skills covered include making professional presentations, business etiquette, business communications, and teamwork.
Members of the Bowden Investment Group are required to take both FIN 4620 and FIN 4622. These courses comprise a two-course sequence. Students accepted into the Bowden Investment Group must enroll in FIN 4620 during the fall semester and then enroll in FIN 4622 during the following spring semester. Students will not receive a grade for FIN 4620 until they have completed FIN 4622 (i.e., at the end of the spring semester grades for both courses will be given). This two-semester arrangement gives more continuity to the management of the fund and gives students a longer-term perspective than can be achieved during a single semester.
Participating in the Bowden Investment Group requires a high level of dedication by group members. The workload for the courses is substantially heavier than other finance courses and a high level of performance is expected of all students.
The Bowden Investment Fund
The Bowden Investment Fund
The Elbert V. Bowden Student Managed Investment Fund was set up in January 2000 in the Department of Finance, Banking and Insurance at Appalachian State University with the dual purpose of providing students with an opportunity to obtain hands-on investment experience and to provide funds to benefit the students and faculty. The money to establish the fund was contributed by alumni, faculty, and other supporters of the Department of Finance, Banking and Insurance.
Student Responsibilities in Managing the Bowden Investment Funds
Students have complete responsibility for making investment decisions. The faculty advisor's role is to make certain that the rules of the fund are followed and that students have sufficiently researched a company prior to making a decision. The faculty advisor does not make investment decisions. Students must find companies that they believe to be good investments and prepare analysts' reports on the companies. Then the students must present the reports to the class and try to convince their colleagues in the class to buy the stocks. In addition, students are responsible for tracking the stocks currently held by the fund and may make recommendations to sell stocks that they believe should not be in the portfolio. Buy/sell decisions are made by a vote of the students in the class. Students are also responsible for monitoring economic conditions, tracking the performance of the portfolio, and maintaining records related to the fund.
Benefits of Being a Part of the Bowden Investment Group
Membership in the Bowden Investment Group is about much more than just investment performance. Students who have taken this course have said that participating in the Bowden Investment Group provided the most practical and meaningful educational experience that they had in college. They also indicate that their experience in managing the fund was often the primary topic in interviews and that the class was the most fun course that they have taken.
Students in the Bowden Investment Group are required to make presentations outside of class to groups such as the Advisory Board for the Department of Finance, Banking and Insurance, the Advisory Council for the Walker College of Business, and the Investment Advisory Committee for the ASU Foundation. In addition to developing analytical skills and critical thinking skills, students have an opportunity to develop their writing and presentation skills.
Participation in the Bowden Investment Group is also about learning to be a professional. Students have an opportunity to learn how to function in a professional environment and are expected conduct themselves as professionals (this includes a dress code requiring business casual or business professional dress for all activities).
Opportunities for Travel
Members of the Bowden Investment Group may have an opportunity to participate in a trip to New York City. During the New York trip students visit Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange, visit with security analysts who are covering stocks held in the Bowden Investment Fund, and get to visit some of the popular tourist destinations in New York City. The cost of the trip may be heavily subsidized, depending on the availability of funding.
Students may also have an opportunity to visit investment firms in North Carolina to learn about security analysis and to learn about career opportunities in the region.
Great Challenges and Great Rewards
Being part of the Bowden Investment Group is very rewarding for students, but it is also very challenging. Since the Group manages a real portfolio, a lot of work is involved. Members of the Bowden Investment Group should expect to put more work into the investment management courses than they have for most of the courses that they have taken previously.
Students in the Bowden Investment Group have a fiduciary duty to manage funds of the University. Along with that duty there are responsibilities that are not present in other college courses.
Summer & Break Assignments
Students selected to be part of the Bowden Investment Group will be given some assignments to complete during the summer prior to starting the Investment Management class. The first assignment will be to read an investments book. Note that the book assigned will be a popular book on investing and not a textbook. The purpose behind this assignment is to give students some insight into selecting and analyzing stocks.
Students will also be assigned a group of stocks to track and study during the summer. The stocks assigned will be stocks currently held in the Bowden Investment Fund. The purpose of this assignment is to make certain that, beginning on the first day of classes in the fall semester, the students are prepared to discuss the stocks that are held in the portfolio. Note that students will continue to track the assigned stocks throughout the year.
The final summer work requirement is to learn the basics of financial statement modeling. BIG Members will be given access to online training materials used by major investment banking firms. Students will build a model for one of the companies in the portfolio by applying the lessons from the online training.
Finally, students will often be required to complete additional projects related to the management of the fund outside of class.
The following describes some of the qualities and characteristics necessary for a student to succeed as a member of the Bowden Investment Group.
Bowden Investment Group Members must:
- be willing to conduct themselves in a responsible and professional manner (this includes business casual or business professional dress for all meetings),
- have an interest in learning financial analysis,
- have a strong interest in stocks and investing,
- have good analytical skills,
- have excellent interpersonal skills,
- have very strong written and verbal communication skills,
- be able to work as part of a team and be willing to do his/her part to help the team succeed,
- be able to work in an unstructured environment without detailed step-by-step instructions,
- be willing to put forth more effort than is required in the average college course,
- be able to apply lessons learned in other business courses, and
- be able to work and think independently.
Minimum Requirements for Students
- have completed at least 84 semester hours of coursework prior to the fall semester,
- have completed FIN 3890 (Survey of Investments) prior to the fall semester or enroll in FIN 3890 concurrently with FIN 4620 during the fall semester (note that it is preferred for students to have completed both FIN 3890 and FIN 3690 prior to enrolling in FIN 4620),
- have a strong interest in investments and financial analysis, and
- be willing to put in more effort than is required in the average course.
Apply to the BIG
Admission to the Bowden Investment Group is highly competitive and a limited number of students are admitted to the group each year. To become a member of the Group students must complete an application and must be interviewed by the current Bowden Investment Group members and by the Advisors.
The selection process begins in the spring semester. Students accepted into the group will enroll in FIN 4620 (Investment Management I) the following fall semester.
Applications will be due in February 2023 and interviews will take place in March.
You will need a copy of your grades, your resume, and answers to the following questions to complete your application.
Resumes must be only one page and must be submitted as a PDF file. You must include your name in the file name for the PDF file.
Answer the following questions in a separate document and save the file with your responses as a PDF file. Limit your response to 200 words per question. Put your name at the top of the page and include your name as part of the file name.
1. Why do you want to be a member of the Bowden Investment Group?
2. What abilities and skills can you contribute to the success of the Bowden Investment Group?
3. Discuss your understanding of fiduciary duty and how fiduciary duty relates to participation in the management of a student investment fund.
4. Is there other information that you would like to convey that may impact the admission decision?
5. List organizations with which you are currently involved or plan to be involved with next year. For each organization listed indicate the level of time commitment involved and list leadership positions you currently hold and positions you expect to hold next year.
6. Describe in detail your plans for work and study for the upcoming summer.
Make certain that your name is at the top of the page and include your name in the file name for the PDF file.
Click here to access the BIG application in the Spring semester