Farmer School Students Discover Winter Wonderland on Wall Street

February 2017

Elizabeth Jenike

Every January, a group of intrepid finance majors suit up and travel to the Big Apple to participate in FSB’s Wall Street Week. They see the sights, they sample the cuisine - but most importantly, they get connected with top-level financial institutions in the area and get a firsthand look at the inner workings of the stock market.

This year, however, there was a different vibe for Wall Street Week. Instead of being only a study-away type of trip where the students studied solely in New York City for the duration, the class was offered as a Winter Term course. What does that mean? Essentially, the first two weeks of the Miami winter term were spent in Oxford, brushing up on stock market knowledge and putting together presentations that would eventually be given to top clients in NYC.

Traders for a day

When they got to NYC for the third week of the course, they hit the ground running. They visited Blackrock, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, Citi, Warburg Pincus, Goldman Sachs and more - the biggest of the big, the ones calling the shots on the floor of the NYSE.

They also got to visit the NYSE itself, which wasn’t, maybe, all it’s hyped to be. Thanks to the popularity of a certain image in movies and on television, the common assumption is that the floor of the NYSE is full of shouting traders waving slips of paper in the air. The reality is a little more reserved.

“It’s still crazy,” said senior finance major Penghui Xue. “But a lot of those transactions take place over the computer now.”

As an international student, Penghui enjoyed the trip to New York City (admittedly his fourth). The class got up before the sun to go around the city so they could visit big institutions and see the sights, often leaving the hotel at 6:50 a.m. and returning at 7 p.m. Such is the life of a stock trader!

Stock pitch fever

For the stock pitch competition, the students had one goal: find a stock that was undervalued and come up with key scenarios for how its stock value could be realized. Why is that stock undervalued? What isn’t the market getting? These were questions they had to answer in their presentations.

“The most valuable part of going [on the trip] was being able to see all these different banks and huge institutions,” junior finance major Aaron Lewis said about the experience. “It was cool to see Miami grads, people who were in our shoes not too long ago, to be able to go to that level in that industry.”

Aaron also noted that he enjoyed being able to pitch a stock to Miami grads who were also banking professionals. A sort of build-in camaraderie was there thanks to the shared alma mater, but these were industry professionals - their feedback was invaluable to the current FSB students.

“Farmer is a great business school, so we should leverage the alumni power to build our network for our future career development,” Penghui commented. “If we don’t use the network, that’s a waste of resources.”

The winning team of the stock competition did an evaluation of the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, which had actually just gone public on the NYSE. Team members included Aaron, Ryan Prescott, Sam Garson, Penghui and Devang Singhvi.

More than a class

According to Penghui, one of the most important aspects of the trip wasn’t just the educational experience or the opportunity to view how real-life stock trading happens on the NYSE. For him, it was a way to connect with his fellow Farmer School students and cement himself even further into the Miami community as a whole.

“The stock pitch process is hard but it’s really amazing,” Penghui said, because he and his group mates got to know each other. “Doing the normal classes, you don’t really have that much time working together for one purpose.

“Farmer offers this kind of opportunity to students, and there’s no reason for me to give that up,” Penghui said.

Miami students on Wall Street trading floor Wall Street trading floor Penghui Xue