Freed-Hardeman University business majors, both past and present, celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Clayton Investment Team last fall. More than half of the investment team’s alumni returned to FHU’s campus to attend the reunion, which included an evening reception and program, a panel discussion with alumni and current students and the opportunity for alumni to observe a financial strategy meeting with current members of the team.
Founded in December 2006, the student-led team manages a $1 million investment fund established with a donation from businessman and philanthropist Jim Clayton.
Eighty-one business majors have gained real world experience because of their involvement with the Clayton Investment Team and some graduates currently work as financial advisers, portfolio managers and financial researchers.
Chad Banks (2006) was part of the inaugural Clayton Investment team, attended the reunion and watched the current team in awe as they discussed team business. “I was impressed by how they used financial metrics data, how well they worked together and the efficiency of their discussion,” Banks said. “It was the first time that I’ve sat in on a meeting and I’m amazed by how they answer questions and defend their ideas.” Banks is currently vice president and a financial consultant at Regions Bank in Jackson.
Alumni who returned to FHU shared career advice, discussed how their experiences on the investment team gave them a better understanding of the financial market and the importance of research and preparation. “Networking is so important before and after you graduate,” Paul Mahan shared with current students. Mahan (2010) manages financial portfolios for First Tennessee Bank customers. “Being patient (with a career) is important as well. I left a job once to start graduate school and I hated it, but I still ended up $30,000 in debt.”
Larissa Barton (2013) shared a few life lessons with current students. “It’s good practice to have a good work/life balance to avoid career burnout,” Barton, who is a financial advisor at Northwestern Mutual, said.
Cameron West (2011) encouraged students to “always be doing something and work on self improvement.” “Companies are looking for people who are coachable and loyal and who exceed expectations. But it’s important to also be humble enough to know you don’t know everything,” West said.
With each class, the Clayton Investment Team builds on the success of the previous year and such history is not lost on FHU’s faculty.
“I am proud of the longevity of the program and, at the same time, the consistent involvement of alumni with the current team,” Ryan Hysmith, assistant professor of finance, said. “The alumni were truly impressed with the new finance lab and the team’s investment process. We are thankful to Mr. Clayton for his foresight in funding this program and for the continued commitment to FHU's finance program.”
During the fiscal year ending August 31, 2017, the fund returned 13.05 percent. Over the past five years, the fund has returned 11.90 percent. In 2016, the fund grew 23.46 percent. Since its inception, the fund has produced more than $600,000 in distributions.