Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Marquette's AIM Program Has Added a Private Equity & Banking Track

Dr. Krause discusses the AIM program's newest track
It was recently announced by Dr. Mark Eppli, Marquette University’s Interim Keyes Dean of Business Administration, that the Applied Investment Management program is expanding. This is a key part of the Dean's DAY 1 vision which shifts the business curriculum across four years and adds a new freshman DAY 1 business course.  In this interview, Dr. David Krause, Director of the AIM program, discusses the second track which is the first of the new applied business programs planned by the Dean and the College's Executive Council.
Q)  First of all, can you provide some background about the Applied Investment Management program?

David Krause
In 2005, Marquette’s College of Business Administration launched the Applied Investment Management (AIM) program. Since then, over 200 undergraduates have passed through the program which has earned recognition as one of the nation’s top undergraduate programs in applied investment management. In short, the AIM program has allowed a group of undergraduate finance majors to get hands-on academic and security analysis experience, including summer internships and an opportunity to actively manage three equity and fixed-income portfolios throughout their senior year. 

Students have studied from a curriculum that emphasizes the core body of knowledge covered in the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) exam – preparing them to take the test upon graduation – and begin a career in the asset management industry. Over 40 students have already passed all three levels of the CFA exam since the program began.

In 2006, the AIM program was selected as the first undergraduate business program to become a Program Partner of the CFA Institute. This coveted partnership designation means that AIM offers a degree program that covers at least 70 percent of the CFA Institute’s Program Candidate Body of Knowledge, including the CFA’s  Ethical and Professional Standards and other requirements.

AIM alumni are working in a variety of positions in the financial services sector around the globe and the program has a perfect career placement record since its inception. The pass rate for AIM students on the challenging Level I CFA exam has averaged nearly 70 percent – while the average global pass rate is only 38 percent. Many AIM alumni have passed all three levels of the CFA exam and have obtained their charters. The AIM program has also won the local CFA Society Investment Research Challenge five of the last six years – and two teams have advanced to the semi-final round of the Americas CFA Research Challenge. In short, the AIM program has achieved considerable success over the past decade. 
Q)  What is the new Private Equity & Banking track?
The AIM program is expanding and will now comprise two tracks: Investments and the newly developed Private Equity & Banking. The Investments track focuses on asset management, while the Private Equity & Banking track concentrates on private and transactional finance.

The expansion of the AIM program is a direct response to the increased interest from employers and Marquette's undergraduate finance students – and it builds off of the College of Business Administration’s expertise in offering applied business education programs. There has also been strong employer demand as more investment funds are being allocated into the private equity space.

This new track will bridge connections among the College of Business Administration’s constituents including its growing finance alumni network, firms in the financial services sector and the currently enrolled students. It will especially address the needs of employers, including bulge and middle market investment banks; commercial and industrial lenders; privately-held companies; and private equity firms.

More students will now have the opportunity to receive AIM’s rigorous education and career preparation, benefit from new internship experiences, and achieve broader career opportunities. It also fits well with the new vision advanced by the College of Business Administration.
Q)  What are some of the elements that will distinguish the Private Equity & Banking track from the Investments track?
Similar to the Investments track, AIM students in the Private Equity & Banking track will study a rigorous core body of knowledge, but one that has an increased focus on private and transactional finance. Hallmarks of the Private Equity & Banking track include three required courses that are not a part of the Investments core curriculum: Investment Banking, Applied Financial Modeling, and Private Equity. The last two courses being brand new offerings that will offered in the 2015 spring semester.

AIM Research Room

The primary goal of the AIM program remains committed to providing students with unique real-life learning experiences that will reinforce the core skills developed through their academic work. Students in the new AIM track will receive:
  • An applied undergraduate education that will enhance their understanding of the private equity, investment banking and corporate finance sectors;
  • Training in financial modeling;
  • Opportunities to learn from, and network with, local financial services professionals and the University’s growing alumni base;
  • Internship and job search support, including recruiting opportunities, mock interviews, and help with cover letters, resumes, work samples, and communication strategies; and    
  • A leading-edge curriculum based on elements from the Chartered Financial Analyst, Certified Private Equity Professional (CPEP), and Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) core body of knowledge.  

Mark Zellmer
Q)  If the program is expanding will there be any new staff to support the AIM program?
 Dr. David Krause, the inaugural director of the AIM program, remains responsible for the administration of the program and curriculum. He is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Finance and has been the primary instructor of the AIM courses since the program’s inception in 2005. He has taught all four of the AIM courses that are included in the Investments track curriculum and will remain focused on asset management.
It was recently announced by the Dean of the College of Business Administration that Mark Zellmer will be joining the AIM program on a part-time basis as the co-director of the Private Equity & Banking track. A Marquette undergraduate and MBA alumnus, Zellmer has been a popular adjunct instructor since the mid-1990’s. As the chairman and majority shareholder of Northern Oak Wealth Management, he has extensive expertise in financing and investing in privately held companies. He will teach the courses in the new track and offer advice to students about related internships and career opportunities. Mr. Zellmer will work closely with Dr. Krause on the program's numerous applied learning components, including internships, career development, alumni mentorships, industry networking, and the oversight of student clubs.
The AIM program has also received instructional support from other finance faculty, including Dr. Sarah Peck, who previously taught the Investment Ethics course. Current and former adjunct finance faculty who have provided teaching support at the graduate and undergraduate levels include: Mark Zellmer, Chris Zuzic, Jeff DeAngelis, Chris Swain, Tom Digenan, Bill Walker, Chris Merker, Tom Eck, Mike Blonski, Dan Geigler, Jim Fitzpatrick, and Frank Esposito – with most of them being Marquette alumnus and prominent investment professionals.
Q)  How does the expanded program fit the mission and strategic goals of university and college?
The new track seeks to strengthen and advance the University’s mission in the search for truth, the discovery and sharing of knowledge, the fostering of personal and professional excellence, the promotion of a life of faith, and the development of leadership expressed in service to others.  
The new track also strives to support the College’s mission of providing innovative applied learning experiences and to serve as a valued resource for business and societal. We seek to apply Ignatian pedagogy, which encourages the faculty and students to consider the “context” of the subject matter and how it relates to and is impacted by society trends, economics, political structure, and global and local issues. We wish for our graduates to be able to analyze, decide, integrate and lead in the 21st Century.