App and Investment Clubs New on Campus

Fans at the Women's Soccer game pose with Phineas!

Swarthmore College’s already prodigious list of student-run organizations has expanded even further this semester with the revival of the previously dormant Investment Club and the foundation of the App Club.

Although both focus on highly lucrative industries, neither clubs’ immediate interests seem to be solely pecuniary. Both hope to provide students interested in these industries with opportunities to expand their skill set and apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to more real-life problems and scenarios.

“The mission of our club is to provide interested Swarthmore students with the opportunity to learn and become better investors. Along the way, I hope to convince my peers that investing can be a rewarding, stimulating, and socially beneficial career,” Investment Club Co-President Adam Silver ’14 said.

Investment Club’s main activities will involve members working together to maintain a mock portfolio of equities and fixed income, with the ultimate goal of outperforming set benchmarks for each class of assets. The club is currently in the process of selecting members that will be responsible for specific asset classes.

The club also hopes to educate members on specific investment strategies and techniques. At the club’s meeting on the 21st, Financial Analyst Nathan Newport of the College Investment Office described the school’s approach to managing its endowment and offered suggestions for managing the club’s mock portfolio. At the upcoming meeting, Co-President Aliya Padamsee ’14 will present a “practical, technical approach to risk-averse trading.”

Discussions of assigned reading material such as Burton Malakiel’s A Random Walk Down Wall Street, a classic financial text analyzing various investment techniques and stock market behavior, will also play a prominent part.

Working in a similar vein, the App Club seeks to augment members’ classroom knowledge with hands-on approach to product development. “The Computer Science department at Swarthmore is great, but it focuses mainly on CS theory. Our club offers the unique chance to apply the theory to reality, and create some really cool stuff along the way,” the club stated in a group email.

Like the Investment Club, the profits App Club hopes to earn seem to be mostly intangible. “Our main profit is what we learn from the development process.  We’re not precisely sure how SBC would react if we decided to sell our Apps. We will likely keep them free, and if we don’t we’ll make sure, in true Swattie tradition, that the profits go to a good cause,” the group responded.

Although both groups’ missions are comparable, their size is not. While Investment Club currently boasts 75 students on its mailing list and a first meeting attendance of 25, App Club has capped its membership at five to promote close cooperation between coders.

“There hasn’t been much interest from the student body. We work with some fairly obscure technologies that don’t exactly make a lot of headlines, so the population that’s actually interested is pretty small,” the club email stated.

Numbers aside, members of both clubs seem positive about the directions their organizations have taken.

While App Development Club has remained much more low-key, this seems to fit into its overall ad hoc structure and plans. In regards to its future activities, the group responded: “In the immortal words of nuclear physicist Richard Feynman, we’re making it up as we go along.”

Investment Club members have complimented the organization’s membership diversity and overall approach. “From what I’ve heard, the old club consisted mostly of Phi Psi members and was just interested in the purely money-making aspect of investing. I think the membership and areas of investment interest represented now are much more diverse,” said Parker Murray ’15.

Murray further stated that he feels the club has a lot to offer individuals who aren’t as interested in finance careers; “I personally don’t have any plans to go on Wall Street and am more interested in the club for its money management applications,” he said.

Investment Club Co-President Aliya Padamsee summed up both clubs’ modus operandi by referencing her own experience in the field of investing: “Other than seminars I’ve attended on [futures and options], I’ve learned by doing!”

Parker Murray is Director of Art at the Phoenix.  He had no role in the conception or production of this article.

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