Community Engagement

Good Investments

Student portfolio managers in OU’s student-managed investment fund dive deeply into the intricacies of strategic wealth management. This experience managing funds on behalf of The Kresge Foundation puts OU business students at the forefront of impact investing, positioning them for careers in a growing field

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Advisory board members listen intently to OU business Portfolio Manager investment analysis and recommendations. (Photo Credit: Tatiana Hurst)

Two men sitting.

Steven Lazarevich FIN ’19 gained proficiency in investment analysis and valuation as well as a deep understanding of what moves the market as a Portfolio Manager for the Oakland Student Managed Investment Fund. (Photo Credit: Kyle Wills)

icon of a calendarApril 7, 2020

icon of a pencilBy Liz Lent

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Impact investing is moving from the margin to the mainstream. A decade ago, only a few financial institutions pursued cause-driven investing. Today the practice of using financial gains for good is realizing remarkable growth.

Through their work developing investment plans for the benefit of The Kresge Foundation, one of the region’s largest nonprofit grant-making and social investing organizations, Oakland University students in the business school’s Student-Managed Investment Fund (SMIF) are part of that growth.

Launched in Fall 2015, the SMIF relies on student portfolio managers to invest funds and raise resources for The Kresge Foundation, which powers this hands-on, real-world learning experience. Under the guidance of expert professors and active advisory board members, SMIF students flexed their newly acquired wealth management know-how to increase assets from $2 million to $2.375 million from Fall 2015 to Winter 2019.

“In eight semesters of Oakland’s SMIF, students worked diligently to screen securities and determine value through a discounted cash flow and relative comparison process within sectors of the S&P 500,” says Robert Uptegraff, Jr., professor, finance, and SMIF faculty adviser. “The major goal is to manage and maintain the SMIF portfolio while endeavoring to exceed S&P performance on a risk-adjusted basis.”


For students, the SMIF curriculum elevates their learning, allowing them to dive deeply into the rewards of wealth management while also supporting the strategic philanthropy that guides The Kresge Foundation’s mission. The SMIF was created from Kresge’s $3.6 billion investment portfolio, which supports Kresge’s mission to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grantmaking and social investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services and community development in Detroit.

OU SMIF portfolio managers gain proficiency in portfolio construction, investment analysis and investment valuation as well as hone analytical skills assessing how current news and events alter and influence specific investments and market performance.

“As portfolio managers, we get a comprehensive overview of the market, a deep understanding of what moves the market, and insight on methods to value securities,” says Steven Lazarevich, FIN ’19, financial reporting analyst, Guardian Industries. “The most rewarding aspect of the class is presenting your months of research, diligence and valuations to the advisory board.”

“The presentations are the culmination of a semester’s worth of very hard work and plenty of late nights,” agrees Joseph Wysocki, FIN ’17, wealth management adviser, Plante Moran. “Presenting helped me realize how much I learned and how much I could grow in a short time.”

The intense experience coupled with the presentation and leadership skills students develop in the program influences their success in securing internship and career positions at top firms.

“The class taught me how to be thorough in my research, confident in my own work, and diligent in managing my schedule. I was constantly learning new things,” says Wysocki. “The fast-paced, professional atmosphere prepped me perfectly for what I encounter on a day-to-day basis as a full-time professional.”

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