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Bridge between Wisconsin Ave. and Wall Street Marquette’s AIM program preps students for ethical futures in finance

Posted on 26 April 2009 by Katelyn Ferral

At first it may seem inconsistent to pair signature Jesuit values of social justice and selflessness with finance, an industry explicitly based on amassing wealth. ??????? 3gp ????? ??????? ???????
The students and faculty of Marquette’s Applied Investment Management Program would disagree.

“If there’s a public perception that finance is corrupt, then that’s a false perception,” AIM program director Dr. David Krause said.

As Wall Street continues to grapple with the global economic recession and public outrage over AIG executive bonuses and the Bernie Madoff scandal, Marquette’s Applied Investment Management (AIM) program is expanding the scope of Jesuit education and service beyond traditional social justice campaigns and food drives.

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The AIM program is bringing Jesuit values to the forefront of finance through an innovative investment research curriculum designed to give students real investment experience and a solid foundation in the Jesuit tradition.

The Applied Investment Management (AIM) program was founded in 2004 and gives a select number of finance majors the opportunity to manage $1 million of the University’s endowment while receiving hands-on training in managing small capitalization equity and fixed income  funds.

The International Applied Investment Management (IAIM) program was established in 2007 and expanded the portfolio to include global equity funds. As one of the nation’s top investment programs, the AIM program was the first undergraduate business program in the world selected as a program partner by the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute.

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Jesuit infused ethics guide the program as AIM students are some of the first in the nation required to take courses focused on socially responsible investment management standards.

“As far as we know, we’re the first school anywhere to offer investment ethics. We feel pretty good that we’re at the forefront addressing these problems. Because of our Jesuit values, we were addressing ethics before there was ever a need for it, before the big explosion,” Department of Finance chair Dr. Sarah Peck said.  “We take a lot of pride in the fact that not only are our students going to be extremely knowledgeable, but also become the type of people you want to see on Wall Street.”

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In addition to the ethics course, a new course on risk management will be offered because of the link between the current economic crisis and the high frequency of risk leverage.
“We could really see that this was becoming an issue so we’re going to offer a course on it,” said Peck.

Disclosure to clients, trading, conflicts of interest, compensation and corporate governance issues are among the many ethical concerns addressed in AIM courses, Peck said.
The AIM program also prepares students to take the Chartered Financial Analyst exam, in which ethics is heavily covered. According to the AIM Web site, the program’s partnership with the CFA Institute is dependent upon the program covering at least 70 percent of the CFA Candidate Body of Knowledge.

Marquette graduate and AIM program alumnus Steven Briggs, who will be starting at Bank of America in New York as an analyst in Mergers and Acquisitions in July said ethics was always a huge part of his classroom experience in the AIM program.

“Ethics is a huge portion of the CFA exam and was talked about in every class we took for the AIM program,” Briggs said. “We had to write papers on ethics and current events dealing with ethics was always discussed.”

The Jesuit ethics taught at Marquette have also stayed with alumnus Dan Williams, Senior Vice President and Private Client Advisor for U.S. Trust Bank of America in New York.
“I think there’s a fundamental difference between people who’ve been Jesuit educated and those who have not,” Williams said. “It broadens your view of ethics, provides a moral, ethical training and makes it easy to tell when something is wrong, and say no right away.”

Although market volatility has gone down in recent months, the finance industry still faces hardship and uncertainty. Despite industry conditions, Dr. Krause said the AIM program has not suffered significant losses, and is also attracting a record number of applicants.

“The program hasn’t changed investing strategies, and is doing well in up and down markets,” Krause said. “There have been some alterations in type of companies, but we’ve stayed invested long term.”
Applicant numbers may be on the rise, but the implications of last fall’s financial crash has affected some students’ outlook on the future of finance. ????? ?????? ????? ???????
AIM program junior Sarah Finneran said upheaval in the financial industry compelled her to initially question joining the program.

“As I was applying to the program, the financial industry was in turmoil, and so I initially thought “why would I want to do this?” but then I realized that with the backdrop of Jesuit values taught and applied through AIM, this is what there is a need for [in the industry],” Finneran said.

“There is a need for a moral compass in the business world, and that’s exactly why I wanted to be a part of the program, so that what happened doesn’t happen again.”

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