2023 Stock Pitch Competition gives students "one of the most valuable things I've had since I've been back to school," says Vernon Priest, half of winning team

2023 Stock Pitch Winning Team (Left to Right) Nicholas Mangrum and Vernon Priest

“School can teach you theory and everything you need to know, but to actually sit down and do the presentation in front of industry professionals and get their feedback is one of the most valuable things I’ve had since I’ve been back to school,” says Vernon Priest, senior finance major just before learning that his team had been selected to receive the Kresge Foundation Investment Award at the 2023 Stock Pitch Competition. 

On December 11, 2023, students in the Portfolio Management course at the Mike Ilitch School of Business pitched their recommended stock ideas for the Student-Managed Investment Fund (SMIF) to the advisory board of the fund. The winning team consisted of Priest and Nicholas Mangrum, who together pitched the board on the purchase of Everest Group, a large-cap insurance company. The advisory board determines the team with the most convincing presentation and stock idea for the SMIF. 

This course was created in 2015 with initial seed funding from Fifth-Third bank and was later grown to include a $2 million fund established by Kresge’s Investment Office in 2018.   

The pitches were heard by advisory board members, including Professor Julie Hollinshead, instructor of the Portfolio Management course, Kresge investment team professionals and local investment industry executives. 

“This course gives our students a unique platform to manage over $2 million and develop marketable skills in assessing investment opportunities as well as how to give a real-world financial presentation. Students utilize state of the art tools, including the Bloomberg terminals in the Finance and Data Analytics Lab and other skills developed in the course to formulate their recommended stock ideas for the stock pitch” says Hollinshead. 

Among those present to hear pitches was Darin Young, from Seizert Capital Partners. Young has been a panel judge for the competition since near its inception. He feels the skills they learned in the class are important, whether or not the students competing pursue a career in finance. 

"Skills the students learned today and throughout the class include analyzing financial statements, management, valuation, incentive structures, presenting, teamwork, and selling an idea, among others. Many of these skills are essential for finance careers but are helpful for other careers and personal investments as well," says Young.

This course is offered at the graduate and undergraduate level in both the winter and fall. As a part of the winning team, Priest would encourage anyone eligible to consider enrolling in FIN 5220 or FIN 7990. 

“Any finance student that’s thinking about going into any sort of wealth or financial management this class will be one of the most valuable you take away from Wayne State,” says Priest. 

-Patrick Bernas, Information Officer III

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