Thanks to a course in the economics department, students are getting a taste of Wall Street finance without having to leave campus.
Emma Rasiel, director of the Financial Education Partnership and associate professor of the practice in economics, has partnered with hedge fund manager Blake Goodner, co-founder of the investment firm Bridger Capital and Trinity ’96, to teach a finance course, ECON 195S: “The Goodner Equity Research Project.” The course focuses on equity research about various companies and features biweekly video conferences with Goodner.
“Academic finance and real-world finance are not always quite the same thing,” Rasiel said. “The fact that they’re getting the academic angle from me and then really learning from [Goodner] how this is done by hedge fund managers in New York is eye-opening for them, because it gives them extraordinary practical exposure to the real job.”
Goodner noted that the course is meant to provide knowledge about investing that translates to work done at investment firms, such as analyzing companies and pitching research ideas to portfolio managers.
“Students get great academic education in science, math, English, literature and languages but wouldn’t it be neat for undergraduates to get a little more of a real-world flavor?” he said.
Goodner, a regular contributor to the Duke Annual Fund, said he came up with the idea for the course because he wanted to get more involved with students. He noted that some of his peers who had undertaken similar projects with their alma maters inspired him to create the project. The idea of the course is similar to the economics department’s Duke in New York: Financial Markets and Institutions program, which is meant to provide students with a deeper understanding of financial markets, said Connel Fullenkamp, director of undergraduate studies and professor of the practice of economics.
Fullenkamp added that Rasiel is a very good fit for a collaboration with industry.
“Professor Rasiel has an extensive network and tremendous respect from the financial services industry, based both on her own industry experience and on her mentoring of hundreds of Duke students over the years,” Fullenkamp wrote in an email Tuesday.
This semester marks the first semester with a full class. Last year, five students conducted independent research with Goodner as part of a pilot program, and its success prompted the expansion. The course is currently being taken by 11 students —10 are seniors.
Senior Ben Jones, who is taking the class and has a job at an investment bank next year, said he has enjoyed the opportunity to learn from Rasiel and Goodner.
“It’s been really helpful to hear about stuff related to financial markets from someone who’s currently doing it every day in New York,” Jones said. “[Rasiel] brings a lot of academic background, so it’s really useful to see both sides of the coin and hear multiple perspectives.”
Goodner said he has been pleased with how the course has gone so far, and he and Rasiel both expect that it will continue to be offered in future spring semesters.
“I didn’t know what to expect starting out,” Goodner said. “This was my first kind of educational experience being on the other side of the table, and it’s been great. I’ve learned a lot from [Rasiel], and I’ve been really pleased by how hard the students have worked on the ideas.”