Lecturer, Curt and Carol Lane Research Fellow
The University of Iowa
Real-world experience is sometimes hard to come by, especially for full-time students. However, the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business provides both graduate and undergraduate students an opportunity to manage real money in an endowed equity portfolio.
Each portfolio is associated with a course in which the students learn about valuation techniques and analytical tools. The instructor for both courses is Professor Todd Houge, lecturer in finance and the Curt and Carol Lane Research Fellow. He received both his MBA and Ph.D. in finance from the University of Iowa, and is also an alumnus of the Henry Fund’s inaugural year.
Houge believes that managing the portfolios provides many benefits to students.
“These are meant to allow students to hit the ground running in their careers by simulating real-world situations. Managing real money makes the decisions less theoretical and more meaningful and realistic,” he says.
Undergraduate students manage the Krause Fund, formed in 1998 with a donation of $100,000 from W.A. (Bill) Krause, BA57, chairman and CEO of Krause Gentle, and a member of the Tippie College’s Board of Visitors. A similar donation was made to three other universities, and the four compete in the Krause Investment Challenge, an annual contest that compares the performance of each institution's portfolio during the academic year.
Undergraduate students who want to participate in managing the Krause Fund must enroll in Applied Equity Valuation. In this course, students take what they learn in the lectures and apply it in teams of four or five, each of which is assigned to analyze stocks in a specific sector. At the end of the semester, the team must submit a report and deliver a formal investment presentation to the class and to an Investment Advisory Committee of financial professionals.
Houge believes this continuous process is something totally new for many undergraduates.
“There is no endgame with this project. There is always more information. There is always newer information,” he says. “And after handing in the report, you can’t just walk away; you still have to give your presentation. And even after that, the company is still there.”
For more information on the Krause Fund, visit /tippie.uiowa.edu/krause/.
The Henry Fund, which currently manages more than $2.7 million, provides similar benefits to MBA students. This year-long program is structured as an experiential learning course, meaning students lead the discussions based on their own need for information.
“My role in the Henry Fund is not to give lectures, but rather serve as advisor to the fund. I'm the quality control manager,” he says. “There are certain minimum quality and effort we expect from the students, and I am there to facilitate that. This way, the students get out of the program what they put in.”
Houge says that a big part of the learning process comes from distinguishing between good information sources and bad.
“You’ve heard the phrase ‘to learn by doing’? Well, I always say we ‘learn by fumbling around.’ I mean that there are information resources all over, and we have to fumble around and try to sort the good from the bad, and then bring it all back together in a meaningful, coherent way,” he says.
Houge also believes that this precipitates an important shift in thinking for students managing the Henry Fund.
“This is not like your average case study. This is a case where there are no right answers. It’s a live case with live data, and everyone does a different case,” he says. “Students must learn to support their opinions with data and move beyond the facts, explaining in a convincing manner where they’re going and why.”
More information on the Henry Fund can be found at /tippie.uiowa.edu/henry/.
Houge has been in his position for 13 years, and loves staying on top of the economy with his students. Currently, he has his own blog to discuss the economy, the funds, and other business topics at /www.biz.uiowa.edu/knighthawk. Additionally, Houge and John Spitzer, clinical professor of finance, founded the Iowa Center for Wealth Management, which provides “unbiased financial education, guidance, and advice as a free public service.” These materials are available at: www.biz.uiowa.edu/wmc.