When Jim Clayton, president of Clayton Bank, began a $1 million stock portfolio in 2007, the intent was that Freed-Hardeman University students would manage it, thereby learning about investing from a very real world perspective. In addition, FHU’s College of Business would share in the profits and pay back any losses.
Since its inception, more than $154,000 in performance incentives has been returned to the FHU College of Business finance program. Over the last nine years, the fund has outperformed its comparable value index by an average of 2% annually, according to Dr. Ryan Hysmith, who along with Jay Satterfield, is the faculty advisor to the team.
In September 2019, the fund transitioned to FirstBank Investment Fund when Clayton sold the local Clayton Bank to Jim Ayers of FirstBank. “The more than a decade partnership with Mr. Clayton provided such an exceptional learning opportunity for our students, and we appreciate the vision he had in creating this fund,” Hysmith said. “We are grateful to be continuing the program with FirstBank and building on the foundation that started more than 13 years ago.”
Although many of the students who became investment team members were business majors in the process of earning Bachelor of Business Administration degrees, not all were, nor did all of them enter the world of investments. They did, however, learn skills that apply in their current work.
Both Hysmith and Satterfield tell students the objective of the class is to help students learn how to make decisions, such as buying and selling, and then to defend their decisions before other team members and at the board presentation. If they also learn to pick securities, that’s great, but it’s not the goal of the class.
2006 graduate in finance Chad Banks now works as a financial advisor at Regions Investment Solutions, a subsidiary of Regions Bank. Being a part of the investment team gave him, he says, “‘a behind the curtains’ understanding of the evaluation of stock and when to buy and sell it. It also taught me how to work on a team and negotiate differences of opinion to come to a common goal.” The most valuable lesson, he said, was learning that “just because you put a lot of work into something doesn’t mean your original plan will come to fruition. Sometimes you have to be satisfied with what you learned along the way rather than the original end result.”
Cameron West, a 2011 BBA graduate in finance, is using his talents as a financial advisor with Raymond James. He gives credit to the investment team and Satterfield for his current career. “The structure of Clayton Investment Team pushes you to improve your public speaking, presentation, debate and analytical skills. It gives you a real world application to the concepts you learn in other business classes, which allows you to be interested in concepts that many students won’t use
until years later in their careers,” he said. “As a financial advisor, I use skills developed through the Clayton Investment Team on a daily basis. Jay is a phenomenally patient and talented teacher. Clayton Investment Team is an amazing class/program that I highly recommend for business and non-business students.”
Eric Tompkins, who earned both a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Master of Business Administration in accounting in 2014, is currently the assistant controller at TriStar Southern Hills Medical Center in Nashville. “Although I didn’t go into a career in investments, I learned the value of preparation and the importance of presenting information in a meaningful way,” he said. “Since I didn’t pursue an equivalent career, the lessons of teamwork, preparation, and presentation are the things that I rely on in my current job.”
Mitchell Galloway, who earned dual business degrees in 2016, is now a trial attorney with the United States Department of Justice. “The Clayton Investment Team prepared me for my career as a prosecutor by teaching me how to process and synthesize large amounts of information and use that information to discern reasonable conclusions. It also prepared me to think quickly, be comfortable under pressure, and articulate the rationale behind decisions and conclusions that I reached,” he said. “Despite being learned in the context of an investment team, I use these skills on a daily basis in my current position, both in and out of the courtroom.” Galloway believes, “The most valuable thing I learned as a member of the team was when to admit that I don’t know an answer and how to ask questions in order to determine areas for which I need more information.”
Recent graduate Marshall Dearing received his BBA in financial planning and an MBA in May 2020. He is an associate advisor at Vector Wealth Strategies, LLC. He served the investment team as an analyst for two semesters and an additional semester as the team manager. He says he uses the skills he learned on a daily basis. “I am required to be thorough and precise with my job as a financial advisor because we want to give our clients the best possible level of service,” Dearing said. “You want to be analytical while still sounding personable in presenting with a client. As I advance in my career as a financial advisor, I must make decisions that will impact individuals and families. If I am not confident in my knowledge or decision-making, then I am not properly doing my job.”
This year, nine student analysts and a fund manager comprise the team. Ben Painter, a junior business analytics majorfrom Cold Springs, Kentucky, is the manager. Analysts are Preston Bennett, a senior finance and business administration major from Chapel Hill, Tennessee; Taylor Brasel, a junior business administration major from Booneville, Mississippi; Dillon Clayton, a senior in the dual BBA/MBA program from Myrtle, Mississippi; Bradley Covert, a senior business administration major from Morrison, Tennessee; Hunter Haislip, a junior business administration major from White Bluff, Tennessee; Bo Lyons, a junior financial planning major from Wetumpka, Alabama; Sam McGreevy, a senior business administration major from Mt. Juliet, Tennessee; Kara Palk, a senior business administration major from Round Rock, Texas and Colby Shelton, a senior business administration major from Aetna, Tennessee.