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Penn State Recognizes Contestant


MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — Last fall was the first time Penn State Harrisburg students participated in the ETF Global Portfolio Challenge, a web-based simulated investment challenge designed to serve as a fun and educational tool to help educate students about investing in exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

The first time proved to be good luck for the college and for senior finance major Sabastian Keister, who placed 19th in the competition, out of more than 700 global participants. His position secured him an invitation to the national conference in New York City.

“In addition, Penn State Harrisburg had three students, Jacob Pae, Henry Chu and Devin Andrews, finish in the top 50, which is quite an accomplishment,” said Patrick Cusatis, associate professor of finance, who teaches courses in derivatives, financial modeling, and investments.

As Cusatis explained, the program is essentially a fantasy stock market portfolio, with students ranked by the success of their fantasy funds.

“Each student can invest in up to 10 different ETFs, and the return on the portfolio is followed throughout the semester. Participants are then ranked by total return. Sebastian’s return was 14.76%,” said Cusatis.

Through the challenge’s website, investors construct a portfolio utilizing between four and ten ETFs, using a virtual endorsement of $100,000. Players attempt to pick the top-performing portfolios of ETFs. Each participant competes on the investment performance of their respective virtual portfolio.

Since its inception in 2015, the challenge has drawn thousands of students from six continents and 400 schools.

Keister, a native of Manchester, Pennsylvania, said it was a great honor to participate and finish among the top 25.

As he explained, the challenge entailed the creation of a portfolio to compete for the highest return possible within a narrow time frame, which was around two to three months.

To choose his stocks for such a short term, Keister said he had to employ the right strategy. He decided that the best way anyone could gain a significant amount of return during that brief time period was to undertake a significant amount of risk.

His strategy worked well. The fact that the stock market has been steadily climbing was a big advantage for Keister, who was essentially betting on a strong market for his fantasy funds.

Keister said he intends to put his success in imaginary investing to good use in the real world. He wants to gain experience in corporate finance, portfolio management, private equity, and investment banking, in order to pursue a career in finance.

“I enjoy learning new skills and hope that I can get a wide breadth of knowledge and experience in my career. I’d like to eventually get to a point in my career where I can make an impact in innovative works,” said Keister.

“The idea that by purchasing something you can earn money by just owning it really intrigued me. I also was always interested in technology and innovation. I saw finance as a way in which I could contribute to this progress of innovation,” he added. “I think I definitely benefited from the experience as an investor. While my position was highly speculative and didn’t match what I would do with real money, the knowledge I gained about ETFs and risk definitely helped.”


2020-02-25T19:37:43+00:00February 25th, 2020|

Congratulations, Spring, 2019 Winners

Our Spring 2019 ETF Global Portfolio Challenge winners were honored at the Fall 2019 ETP Forum in New York City. Among the highlights of their day, was a private tour of the Nasdaq MarketSite during the closing bell. We look forward to recognizing and welcoming our Fall 2019 winners to a similar experience at our next ETP Forum in May.

2020-02-25T19:21:42+00:00February 25th, 2020|

Keuka College students open trading at NASDAQ

This story was taken from the Chronicle Express. READ THE WHOLE STORY FROM THE CHRONICLE EXPRESS WEBSITE HERE

With financial markets going through turbulent times these days, the best investment advice to be found might just come from… Keuka College students.

The college boasted four of the top five performers in the competitive Spring 2018 ETF Global Portfolio Challenge. All four created portfolios that generated a return on investment of more than 30 percent – during a time when the market itself actually fell.

Keuka students open NASDAQ
“Over the period of the challenge, the market went down 0.2 percent,” said Keuka College Associate Professor of Finance Steven Barber, who accompanied College students on a celebratory trip to the Fall ETF Forum in Manhattan, “so our returns were impressive!”

The portfolio challenge attracts students from across the country and around the world, with more than 1,000 participants representing 43 states and 36 countries. Still, Keuka College’s student-investors more than held their own, capturing nearly half of the top 20 spots:

1st Patrick Giardino ’18, management major (51.52 percent portfolio return) 2nd Trevor Alton ’18, accounting major (46.60 percent)

4th Hunter Waddington ’20, management major (36.84 percent)

5th Michaela Martin ’19, management major, (33.40 percent)

6th Konrad York ’18, management major (31.58 percent)

10th Nicholas Cantando ’18, management major (25.24 percent)

11th Ryan Lawrence ’18, management major (21.01 percent) 13th Dakota Skinner ’17 management major (19.34 percent)

17 h Luke Labuski ’19, accounting major (15.13 percent)

The competition requires students to invest a virtual balance of $100,000 in a portfolio of between four and 10 exchange-traded funds, which they then manage over the semester. Portfolios are measured by their total returns.

Several Keuka College winners attended the ETF Forum, the largest single-day conference in the industry, and were recognized during the awards ceremony. They enjoyed private networking sessions and a tour of the NASDAQ exchange, where they helped ring in the trading day Nov. 29. Professor Barber received a “Most Valuable Professor Award” for Excellence in Investment Education.

2019-01-23T06:52:32+00:00January 23rd, 2019|

Detroit Mercy Business Students Shine In Global Investment Competition


We may very well see four University of Detroit Mercy students handling our portfolios in a few years, and that could be a very good thing.

The business students placed in the top 25 in the world in the ETF Global Portfolio Challenge, a web-based simulated investment challenge. Adam Ross finished in 10th place, Paige Fairchild in 13th place, Spiro Pliakos in 15th place and Holly Hedemark in 21st. On average, the four students achieved a 12.46 percent rate of return.

Not bad.

Here’s how the contest works.

From left to right: Spiro Pliakos, Holly Hedemark, Paige Fairchild and Adam Ross did the University of Detroit Mercy proud in the ETF Global Portfolio Challenge.
Each semester, ETF Global, which offers investors research and risk analysis that focuses on exchange traded funds (ETFs), sponsors an investment competition for college students. Contestants begin the semester with a virtual balance of $100,000 and are tasked with constructing the best performing portfolio of exchange-traded funds.

“No other university had as many students among the top 25, and only four other universities had multiple winners at two students each,” says Joseph Eisenhauer, dean of the College of Business Administration. “In this sense, our university outperformed all other participating institutions from around the world.”

Participating in the Global Portfolio Challenge got the Detroit Mercy students’ competitive juices flowing.

“I’m a pretty competitive guy, so any competition I am in, it always gets my best effort,” says Pliakos, a member of the men’s soccer team and an Academic All-American. “Also, the stock market is something that has always been of interest to me. When you combine my competitiveness with my interest in the stock market, it came out to be a really fun experience.”

Adam Ross was glad competing with students from around the world tested his mettle.

“Being able to compete against people from around the world was the most enjoyable aspect of the challenge for me,” Ross says. “I’m a competitive person, so competing and holding my own against students from some of the top colleges around the world is what really made this experience so valuable and enjoyable.”

From left to right: Adam Ross, Holly Hedemark, Paige Fairchild and Spiro Pliakos in Detroit Mercy’s Financial Markets Lab.
He credits Detroit Mercy and Omid Sabbaghi, associate professor of finance and director of graduate business programs, with his success in the challenge.

“I have to give Dr. Sabbaghi a lot of credit when it comes to what I learned that helped me excel in this challenge,” Ross says. “Over the course of the semester, he not only helped me identify the style of investing that worked best for me, but also gave valuable insight into how the market operates and what to look for when deciding which stocks/ETFs to invest in.”

Detroit Mercy says its state-of-the-art Financial Markets Lab provided the students with the right environment to compete on a global level.

“I think that the software and technology in the Financial Markets Lab contributed significantly,” Sabbaghi says. “I also think that discussing ETFs in class and allocating in-class time for the students to execute their trades, contributed as well. The Financial Markets Lab allows for vital integration of technological and investment education.”

The students’ success led to the launch of the College of Business Administration’s Majestic (Mercy and Jesuit Student Investment Capital) Fund.

Using donations from benefactors, Detroit Mercy Finance students will have the opportunity to purchase actual financial assets (stocks, bonds, currencies, etc.) with real money. Each successive semester, students will manage the portfolio.

Major donors to the Majestic Fund will serve on an Investment Advisory Council that meets quarterly with student investors to hear about their research and results and provide them with feedback.

“The Majestic Fund will give our finance students an exciting, hands-on learning experience as well as a new opportunity to interact with professionals from the business community,” Eisenhauer says.

In addition, the students will “develop their analytical and oral presentation skills, and will engage with practitioners from the business community,” Sabbaghi says.

The initial benefactors of the fund include Joe Berkowski, Ina Fernandez of Fern Capital, John Donnelly and Jim Penman of Donnelly Penman & Partners, among others.

For more information on Detroit Mercy’s College of Business Administration, please click here.


2018-02-02T15:48:40+00:00February 2nd, 2018|

First-Year Business Student Wins Big

Matthew Tarka knew his first year as a finance major at Xavier would be a challenge. But when an opportunity came up to enter an international stock portfolio challenge, he thought, why not?

And in a twist that’s typical of the Xavier experience, this story begins not in a classroom but during Club Day on the Yard.

More than 160 clubs and organizations vie for new members, especially first-year students, including Xavier’s student-run Financial Management Association. The club invited him to join their organization and take part in the ETF Global Portfolio Challenge—a web-based simulated investment challenge competition. He’d only had one business class by then—accounting. BUT for Tarka, finance had always been fun. It runs in the family.

“Some of my first memories were my dad showing me how the stock market works and different charting programs he had. And it was cool,” Tarka says.


2017-08-15T17:33:10+00:00August 15th, 2017|

Business Students Make History in Investment Challenge

This spring, five St. John Fisher College students made history when they became the first school to claim all five winning spots in the 2017 ETF Global® Portfolio Challenge. Ethan O’Donnell, Cole Smith, Phat Huynh, Carlin Lydon, and John Lehsten—all members of the Class of 2018—took the top spots in the 10-week investment competition, which drew students from 190 schools across 24 countries on five continents.

The School of Business students participated in the challenge through Steven Barber’s Investments course. During the competition, students are given a virtual balance of $100,000 and are tasked with constructing and maintaining a portfolio of Exchange Traded Funds (EFTs).

According to challenge organizers, Fisher accomplished an “unprecedented feat” in becoming the first school in competition history to claim ownership in the top five spots.

“This statistical anomaly shattered the previous record held by University of Central Florida with two of the top five students,” wrote organizers in a message announcing the winners, who noted that Fisher managed to accomplish this despite representing a small percentage of the 1,000 total contestants and facing the competition’s largest and most globally diverse playing field ever. “This is a clear reflection of not only the high quality of students that St. John Fisher College possesses, but also the talent that can be found in smaller schools outside the collegiate mainstream.”

O’Donnell, who is majoring in accounting with a minor in finance, said the competition required a daily focus on the markets.


2017-08-15T17:40:04+00:00August 15th, 2017|

Winner’s Spotlight: Mathew Tarka

Matthew Tarka, a sophomore at Xavier University, stands out when it comes to contestants in the ETF Global® Portfolio Challenge. He is the only student to ever finish in the top 25 in all three of our challenges, finishing 5th in our most recent Fall 2016 ETF Portfolio Challenge and placing 1st in our inaugural Fall 2015 contest.

We asked him a few questions about his experience in the portfolio challenge and his career aspirations:


2017-02-15T18:56:33+00:00January 19th, 2017|

Winner’s Spotlight: Wyatt Smith

Wyatt Smith is a student at the University of Central Florida who will be graduating in 2017. He has been a prominent player in the ETF Global Portfolio Challenge since its inception but this past semester he was a standout as he placed 1st in our highest played competition to date!


2017-02-15T18:55:38+00:00January 19th, 2017|

Millenials on Why Their Generation Is ’Embracing’ ETFs

Heather Fischer, vice president of ETF Platform Management at Charles Schwab, says the willingness of millenials to embrace ETFs is striking. Two of the winners of the latest ETF Global Portfolio Challenge discuss their use of ETFs to win the contest. This is a daily ETF podcast from Bloomberg’s Catherine Cowdery como conseguir la viagra.


2017-02-14T14:18:11+00:00January 10th, 2017|

2017 ETP Forums & Thank You

We wanted to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of our Sponsors, Speakers and Attendees for your support which resulted in a very successful Fall 2016 ETP Forum. Despite the challenging, rainy weather, we had well over 400 participants register. We received a ton of positive feedback regarding the quality of the engagement and the substance of discussions during the sessions. In fact, many participants said it was our best event ever!

2017-02-15T18:36:05+00:00December 8th, 2016|
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