The Finance Consulting Practicum

SMF students have recently been assigned to their respective teams for the last and most exciting project of the Specialized Master in Finance, the Consulting Practicum. Per the syllabus, “the project is designed to give SMF students the opportunity to practice their analytical and soft skills by working in teams on real finance related projects with clients.” This year, students received projects from companies such as Huntington Bank, Nationwide, STRS, and Wells Fargo.

Last week, the entire SMF cohort met during lunchtime to go over the class syllabus, as well as the expectations of each student and the team as a whole. Professor Pinteris announced during this meeting that the projects would be unveiled later in the day.   The process works like this:

  • Each student was asked to rank the fourteen projects by preference criteria.
  • The projects were separated into four categories: Corporate Finance, Investment, Risk Management, and Real Estate.
  • Upon assignment, the first task will be to contact the client and set up a first meeting or a conference call (for companies located outside Columbus) to learn more about the project and the responsibilities of the team to complete the project in the best manner possible.
  • Teams will be expected to submit the final version of the project according to the client expectations and make a presentation to the client no later than April 27th.

I’m very exicted about the big event and look forward to telling you more about our hard work and final presentation!

Ohio State’s Intramural Soccer League

It’s game day today!

I’ve recently decided to get back into sports and more specifically with soccer by registering a team in Ohio State’s intramural soccer tournament. The league consists of 28 teams separated in pools of four. Each team has to play once against each other and the best two teams in the pools advance in the playoffs when all the pool game have been played. It only cost $80 to register a team and up to 11 players.

We had our first game last Thursday and I have to admit that we lost the game (I will not disclose the final score… yes, it was bad), but it was still a great experience and a lot of fun to simply get away from the books for some time. Back when I registered the team, I thought that competing in the “A” league (the best) would be good, but it was a mistake. Our first game was against a team composed of almost all OSU team players and it was a tough game! OSU also has a “B” league and I think that league would have been more appropriate for us knowing the average level of my team!

I was also greatly impressed with the indoor turf fields located at the Adventure Recreation Center (“the ARC”) on west campus. Both fields are actually of decent size (not as big as a real soccer field, but definitely bigger than an indoor soccer field).

It was still a great experience and I’m looking forward to our game tonight– hoping that we’ll be able to win our first game!

The 5th annual Wells Fargo Investment Thought Leadership Forum

Last December, a handful group of students and I were given the opportunity to assist “The Wells Fargo Investment Thought Leadership Forum” in New York City. The conference, that took place in the prestigious Plaza Hotel, hosted top-notch discussions on market, credit, banking, and the broad economy. The speaker list included several of the world’s most known and successful investors and managers including Howard Marks (Co-Chairman of Oaktree), Larry Fink (Chairman and CEO of BlackRock), Michael Bloomberg (founder of Bloomberg and 108th Mayor of New York City), and Jamie Dimon (Chairman and CEO of JP Morgan Chase & Co). Furthermore, we felt even more privileged knowing that, among the 1,500-member investor audience representing more than $3 trillion in capital, our group represented the only school present at the conference.

The group with Professor Sheridan!

Our trip started on December 6. Myself and Jared Ablass, SMF student from Canada, had to catch our flight to New York at 2 PM. We arrived at LaGuardia around 5:30 PM and went directly to the Airbnb we rented for the two days trip to drop our bags– and off we go we were, already on our way to our first meeting/dinner with an alumnus from the program.

Arriving in NYC!

The day of the conference, we decided to walk to the Plaza hotel. All of us agreed that a morning walk on 5th Avenue could not hurt.

After a quick breakfast in the hotel and a welcome remark by Jonathan Bock, managing director at Wells Fargo and organizer of the conference, we started the day with a word from Howard Marks. The discussion focused on today’s incredibly challenging low-return investment environment. Mr. Marks emphasized his presentation on today’s uncertainty in the macro environment and the fact that this uncertainty might not lead to high prospective returns in the future because of central banks keeping rates low.

Following Howard Marks was a highly anticipated panel (composed of leaders from Wells Fargo, Apollo, BlackRock, and CalPERS) giving their thoughts on some of the most pressing issues facing the economy (from tax cut all the way to technology). Among other things, the panel was explaining that the tax reform is expected to be powerful for cash flow-oriented companies (as they will have more cash in hands) and particularly for investment bankers on expectations of M&A.

The lunch discussion with Michael Bloomberg was, in my opinion, one of the best discussion of the entire conference. I particularly enjoyed listening his point of view on climate change. As mentioned during the discussion, Mr. Bloomberg explained that while the federal government is clearly a part of the environmental solution, it is more important to see both the innovation and environmental improvements coming from corporate and city leaders in response to citizen demand for cleaner air and water.

Finally, the heavily anticipated closing discussion between Jamie Dimon (Chairman and CEO of JP Morgan Chase & Co.) and Mike Mayo (Large Cap Bank Analyst at Wells Fargo Securities) focused on Mr. Dimon’s catalog for success during his time at the head of one of the biggest financial institution in the world.

A discussion with Jamie Dimon!

We closed this great day with an alumni dinner at a fine restaurant in Manhattan. We had the chance to share this meal with a couple of alumni working in the Big Apple.

Alumni Dinner in NYC!

This diverse group of motivated students coming from all around the world (including myself) are extremely grateful for the opportunity that was given to us by Professor Pinteris, Professor Sheridan and Fisher College of Business. In my opinion, an event like this one is what sets the Specialized Master of Finance apart from other programs and gives you the belief that one day, you’ll be in the shoes of those highly successful individuals.

The entire group with Professor Pinteris and Mr. Bock!

 

An SMF Social Tradition Lives On

The SMF Class of 2018 has been trying to keep a tradition alive: the SMF class dinners. Over the past semester, the SMF Council, led by the one and only Nenson Wang (best event organizer at Fisher), organized two wonderful dinners for the entire class.

The council decided back in mid-October to organize the first SMF dinner of this academic year at a Chinese restaurant called Hong Kong House. Regardless of location, the goal of these dinners is to get us off campus and to really enjoy our limited time together. In this case, it was a great opportunity for domestic students and students coming from other countries to have a taste of authentic Chinese food.

Dinner at the Hong Kong House!

More than 40 students and Professor Pinteris (SMF program  director) attended the dinner and we can definitely say that it was a success. I had the opportunity to try multiple authentic Chinese dishes such as Mapo Tofu or Dumplings and was really pleased with it, as were my fellow classmates. For my part, I have to admit that prior to that dinner, the only Chinese restaurants that I had been to was Chinese buffets not representative of typical Chinese dishes. When not munching on the food, we talked about a lot things– classes, the finance world, and our own personal experiences from across the globe.

Our second SMF dinner took place about a month later at Melt Bar and Grill in Short North. Attendance for this dinner was slightly lower but we had the chance to share the meal with two additional guests: Professor Pirim, who taught us statistics in the first quarter of the program, and Professor Schneider, who is currently teaching us Investments. The food was more traditional American food and the atmosphere was great! It was also really nice to see the faculty in a different setting than a lecture hall!

Dinner at the Melt Bar and Grill
With professor Pirim!

I definitely look forward to the next one!

Stay tuned!

Team Core Capstone Project

One of the coolest aspects of the first semester in the Specialized Master in Finance program here at Fisher College of Business is the Core Capstone Project (Equity Research).

The curriculum is designed to allow students to apply what they have learned throughout the first semester of the program in that Capstone project. The “objective of the course is to apply the concepts and techniques we have learned in core coursework in a real-life setting by performing a financial analysis and valuation of a publicly-traded company” (syllabus).

In this report, each team is supposed to include the following sections:

  • Overview of the company.
  • Discussion of business model and identification of key value drivers.
  • Discussion of business risk factors.
  • Discussion of DCF valuation.
  • Conclusion and recommendation.

Throughout the first semester, we’ve taken core classes in Economics, Statistics, Financial Software Application, Corporate Finance, and Investments. We’ve also developed our teamwork skills through various group projects and presentations, as well as through our core Leadership class. All of these knowledge and skills that we’ve been developing for the past three months at Fisher are put into practice in this capstone project.

The first rough draft deadline is approaching and my team and I have been working hard to come up with a strong report. I am definitely excited to have the final product on hand!

My First Football Game!

On Saturday, I had the chance to experience one of the most impressive and exciting sporting events of my entire life. I have to say that I have been to many sporting events over the course of my life such as a World Cup game in Germany, a European Cup game in France, a Premier League game in Manchester, and multiple World Cup qualification games in Belgium. I thought that no other sports could compete with soccer in terms of fan atmosphere and suspense during the game, but I have to admit that I was wrong.

39-38 was the final score of the OSU vs. Penn State game! Picture the dramatic ending: 3:07 is left in the game. After being down the entire time, Ohio State has the ball with the chance to take the lead for the first time. A little more than a minute later, Quarterback J.T. Barrett finds Tight End Marcus Baugh and… Touchdown! The entire stadium goes crazy!

As a big soccer fan, I left Ohio Stadium a surprised student. I knew that it was supposed to be a great event between two really good teams, but I was definitely not expecting myself to be as hyped as I was for an American football game. The best part of it was these 100,000 OSU fans that kept believing in their team, even after being down 14-0 three and a half minutes into the game.

I was not planning to go to the two last home games of the season, but after this game, I’ve completely changed my mind!

Making New Friends in the U.S.

Hello, people!

Where did the first two months of the school year go?! Fall break is over and the second quarter of fall semester is just starting. I thought that it would be a good time to talk to you about the advantages of being an international student at OSU!

I have to admit that when I first arrived at Ohio State, I was not sure that this year would be a year full of new encounters outside of Fisher. I knew that the program was going to be very demanding in terms of time and effort, and I remember questioning myself about how my life outside the classroom would look.

After spending more than four years in the U.S., I can definitely say that the best part of having this international student status is the friendship that you create with people coming from all around the world. Admittedly, grad school is hard and it should be your priority. But you also have to keep in mind that it only lasts for one or two years. Time flies and I honestly would see my experience at such a big and diverse university as a failure if I didn’t meet new people.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I am from Belgium and my native language is French. I was told that French-speaking people represent a tiny portion of the student body at OSU, but that person was wrong to some extent. I was lucky to meet a student coming from Montreal about a month ago. The good part about speaking an additional language is that whenever you meet people speaking your native language in a different country, that common factor brings you closer to that individual and it is much easier to build a friendship out of it.

I look forward to sharing more stories soon about my new social life in the U.S.!

Let me introduce myself …

Hello Everybody,

My name is Benjamin Pastur and I am a student in the Specialized Master in Finance at Fisher, with a focus on Investment. I am also one of the student ambassadors this year for the Fisher SMF program and will share with you some of my adventures throughout the year via this blog.

Here I am!

I was born and raised in Brussels, Belgium. Yes, the capital of Europe! But you probably have heard about this tiny European country only because of its waffles, chocolates, and beers! Yes, it is always about food over there.As you can see on the picture above, Belgium shares borders with France, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. There are roughly 11.25 million inhabitants in Belgium and the country is separated into distinct regions including Dutch-speaking Flanders (North part), French-speaking Wallonia (south part)– and there is also a German-speaking community living in the east part of the country.

Five years ago, I decided to leave Belgium to study in the United States. I was offered a scholarship to play soccer at Davis and Elkins College. Looking back at my four years as a student-athlete, I can definitely say that I would do it all over again.

Here is a picture of two of my teammates and me when I scored against our rivals!

During my four years as an athlete, my team won two regular season championships and reached twice the GMAC conference final.

A couple of other facts about me:

  • I am interested in a career in Equity Research.
  • I speak French and a tiny bit of Flemish.
  • My favorite soccer team is Manchester United.
  • My favorite meal is a good steak and French fries.

It has now been more than a month since I arrived at OSU. So far, I’m pleased with what this beautiful city of Columbus offers me. Stay tuned for more about me and my Buckeye experience in the following weeks!