GCU Teams Take Stock Market Game by Storm
By Doug Carroll
Looking for a good stockbroker in a down economy? One capable of getting you a 344 percent return on your investment portfolio?
Here’s a tip: Call the firm of Dalquist, Herberg, Kernagis & Meyer. But you’ll need to be flexible for an appointment. The brokers are in class for much of the day.
Those four GCU students — Alex Dalquist, Ralph Herberg, Richie Kernagis and Micah Meyer — won the University Division in last week’s 58-team Stock Market Challenge, a game sponsored by Junior Achievement and held at the Arizona Biltmore.
The division included teams from all three state universities and the Thunderbird School of Global Management, as well as a second GCU team (James Cooney, Kevin Knecht and Whitney Richert), which finished third. The victory by the team of four was GCU’s second in three years at the competition.
The two GCU teams also finished eighth and 12th overall, against professionals from companies such as Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank and Charles Schwab.
No, it wasn’t real money the teams were playing with. But it was real competition, and Dr. Ernie Scarbrough couldn’t be more pleased with his students, who haven’t even taken an investments course yet.
“It’s a fundraiser for Junior Achievement, but everybody wants to win,” said Scarbrough, an associate professor of finance, who prepped the GCU teams and attended the competition as an observer.
“For me, this was a whole new look to the students you see in the classroom. That’s the part that gets me excited. They were fully engaged in this.”
The Biltmore ballroom was a frenzy of activity during last Thursday’s game, in which two months of market activity was compressed into less than two hours. Each “day” lasted only 80 seconds.
Three large screens in the room constantly scrolled with market “news,” and “traders” circulated among the teams to take and place orders.
“Initially, we tried to watch three stocks, but that was too difficult,” Cooney said. “We switched to watching one at a time.”
Meyer said the chaotic environment provided a crash course in thinking on your feet.
“The biggest thing was making decisions,” he said. “You couldn’t waver, because time went by too quickly. You had to decide and just let it ride. You’re not always going to be sure, so you have to make your best guess and go with it.”
Scarbrough said there were plenty of real-life applications.
“This is what you do in business: You make decisions with imperfect information, and unpredictable things happen,” he said, noting that there was even an unscripted technological problem.
The professor said it was important for the students to see men and women from the business world having a good time.
“It was fun, and business is fun when you’re doing it right,” Scarbrough said. “They got to see that it isn’t serious and button-down all the time.
“The game has merits beyond portfolio theory. It has elements of reality all through it.”
GCU’s winning team turned $500,000 into $2.2 million, making more than two dozen transactions. Especially satisfying, the members agreed, was beating a team from the University of Arizona.
“The U of A guys were upset,” Herberg said. “They were all super serious. They looked like real stockbrokers.”
Reach Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or firstname.lastname@example.org.