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UI club taking stock

BY EMILY MELVOLD | APRIL 22, 2009 7:26 AM

Investing in stocks might not sound like the best idea during the current economic climate, but three UI students think it’s a great idea.

Through a new organization called HawkTrade, started by three UI men, students are meeting to discuss strategies for investing in the stock market.

After filing the required paperwork over winter break, HawkTrade held its first meeting in January.

The group meets each Sunday at 6:30 p.m. in the Pappajohn Business Building. Meetings start with a presentation by the group’s president and cofounder, UI senior Jason Willcox, that leads into structured discussions.

“[The meetings] never end at 7:30, and that’s not because we are dragging it out,” said Cody Seeley, another founder of the organization. “People are staying later because they want to discuss [things].”
Seeley and Willcox, both UI seniors and marketing majors, established the club with UI freshman Carl Dick. The three met through I-Envision, a campus entrepreneurship organization.

HawkTrade’s mission is to help students learn the basics of investing by discussing the stock market and investment strategies through hands-on activities.

Around 25 of the group’s 90 members are in the midst of a competition to see who can make the most return in the market. Starting with $50,000 in fake money, members log into HawkTrade’s website and choose stocks.

Ninety-five percent of the group are showing gains. One member has increased his beginning value to $125,000, a 150 percent increase.

Willcox and Seeley agree that, while play money is good practice, they’re looking for sponsorship to start a management fund of $5,000 for the group. When they asked the UI for the money, they were initially turned down. But HawkTrade members are still trying other ways to get the university’s sponsorship.

“No one has had an investment group here before, so [UI officials are] nervous about the risk, and they don’t know what to do,” Willcox said.

Other sponsors — including Hills Bank, Midwest One Bank, and the UI Community Credit Union — have helped raise $550 so far. Seeley said they plan to solicit alumni next.

“Our biggest hurdle has been the university,” Seeley said. “It will pay for other organizations’ trips to conferences, but it won’t make a one-time investment in us.”

Purdue University and Penn State University are two Big Ten schools that have investment organizations, Seeley noted.

With Seeley and Willcox set to graduate in May, the group has lined up a full executive board for next year.

“We don’t see any problems with sustainability,” Seeley said. “We have a solid group of dedicated members.”

On April 4, the UI Student Government awarded HawkTrade the Most Promising New Club trophy.

“I didn’t know anything about the stock market as an English major, but I like the no-pressure feeling at the meetings, and no one knows everything there,” senior Kati Cummins said. “I learn a lot.”


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