Published 12/14/15

Wall Street connections help AIF team beat market

Ed Fasano ’94, a founding board member of Bryant’s Wall Street Council and Seawolf Capital’s COO/CFO, exemplifies the best of Bryant’s powerful network. Thanks to him, three Archway Investment Fund (AIF) students made a mock stock pitch to Seawolf Capital partners Porter Collins, portfolio manager, and Vincent Daniel, head analyst, who predicted the 2007-08 housing market collapse. Collins and Daniel are featured in Michael Lewis’ book, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, and the movie starring Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Steve Carell, and Ryan Gosling. 

The AIF students "could pass as legitimate candidates for analyst positions"

Nicholas Zacchilli ’16 Collins and Daniel were very impressed by the students, said Fasano. “The students did a great job defending their position. They got a lot of feedback, and … understood the company’s financials very well.”

Students who are accepted into the highly competitive two-course AIF program make real world investment decisions and gain exposure to the gold standard of investment practices. When Fasano, speaking at an on-campus AIF Financial Services Forum, heard from some students participating in the program that their stocks were underperforming, he invited them to New York to talk with Collins and Daniel. With input from Finance Professor David Louton, Ph.D., three students assigned to the financial services sector – Brent Lavitt ’15, Elizabeth Field ’16, and Nicholas Zacchilli ’16 (above at the fall 2015 Champions of Philanthropy Gala) – made a mock pitch last April for Discover Financial, a stock held by both the Archway Investment Fund and Seawolf Capital, to the Seawolf Capital team.

Field was pleased that people with such influential voices confirmed the accuracy of the students’ “buy” recommendation. “They gave us great feedback and explained that we hadn’t accurately weighted price-to-earnings ratio and book value properly [for a company in] the financial services industry. Now, we can correctly value stocks based on different multiples.” 

Compared to last year, the Archway Investment Fund is beating the market and the program’s financial services sector is beating its sector benchmark, said Zacchilli, who credits the improved performance to what they learned – and shared with their AIF classmates – during their Seawolf Capital meeting. “We just listen to what a CEO says in his year-end call, but Porter and Collins listen to his tone of voice; what did he say, what did he shy away from. It … shows how much work goes into every single investment. If we’re going to do better than the benchmark, we have to do that much more research.”

Lauding the Archway Investment Fund students for their professionalism and substantive knowledge, Fasano said, “[The pitch] wasn’t just a hobby for them. They could pass as legitimate candidates for analyst positions.” Eager to make these opportunities an annual event for Archway Investment Fund students focusing on a wide array of industry sectors, he said, “Having those experiences is going to give them a leg up.”

Fasano encourages students to think creatively about their career options. “You’re not going to be a head trader soon after graduation,” he said. “Sometimes you start in an operational role and build your career; you could become COO of a hedge fund.”

Zacchilli, who will work for Nomura Securities as an analyst after graduation, says that joining the Council is at the top his agenda. “Being able to network with alumni has been one of the most beneficial experiences I’ve had. I’m eager to … do the same for current students; I can’t wait.”