Student perspective: Parker Center celebrates 20 years
By Mark Krutty, Two-Year MBA ’19
The Parker Center for Investment Research is a staple in the lives of students who pursue careers in investing while attending Johnson. It provides students with the necessary tools, resources, and platforms to succeed; it breeds critical-thinkers, savvy financial analysts, and investment thought leadership. The Parker Center established a standard of excellence at its inception 20 years ago, which it maintains today. Evidence of this was present in the audience, by the decorated resumes of the attendees who came to celebrate the impact the Parker Center has had on their careers.
A long-awaited reunion
Hosted at the New York Athletic Club in Manhattan, the 20th anniversary celebration began as a wonderful reunion. A social hour kicked off the event as former classmates shared career and life updates, professors conversed with former students, and current students mingled with past and present Cayuga Fund members. Generational gaps were bridged by a common passion for investing and a confluence of ideas about the asset management industry.
The social hour could have consumed the entire evening with its lively debate and conversation, but there were other important events planned for the night: dinner, panelists, videos, and a word from Jeffrey Parker himself.
The Parker Center’s beginnings
After corralling the attendees into the Olympic Suite, people took their seats in preparation for a wonderful dinner buffet and a word from Jeffrey Parker on the inception of the Parker Center. Jeff spoke about how he saw a white paper, written by founders Professors Charles Lee and Bhaskaran Swaminathan, outlining the vision for what would eventually become the Parker Center for Investment Research. The idea of a center for investment research, consisting of a state-of-the-art analytical facility, a student managed fund, and cutting-edge faculty research appealed to him far greater than the idea of supporting a classroom and he decided to fund this initiative to make it a reality. The Parker Center for Investment Research opened for business concurrently with Sage Hall in 1998.
Since inception, the center has continued to deliver and significantly expand upon its original vision. The center is led by co-directors Professor Scott Stewart, Breazzano Family Executive Director Lakshmi Bhojraj, and Professor Sanjeev Bhojraj. Home of the Cayuga Fund, the student-led, faculty-directed hedge fund, the Parker Center not only hosts the student fund it set out to create, but also hosts several renowned events, including the MBA and Undergraduate Stock Pitch Challenges, the pioneering MBA and Undergraduate Women in Investing Conferences (WIN), and the newly created Investment Portfolio Case Competition held at Cornell Tech. What began as a vision outlined in a white paper has evolved into the one of the most robust centers for investment education available to students anywhere in the world.
Following a delicious meal and Jeffrey Parker’s comments about the founding of the Parker Center, the guests were treated to three distinguished panelists set to discuss current topics in the asset management space.
Hosting the panel was Scott Stewart, MBA ‘83, PhD ’85, a current faculty co-director for the Parker Center. The commentary from the panelists consisted of topics ranging from the health of the asset management industry, the gap between value and growth investing in recent years, and the impact of new regulation on the space. Having representatives from a variety of backgrounds and strategies made for a lively discussion that everyone in the audience enjoyed.
Here are a few snippets of comments and ideas from the panelists:
- Never stop learning, maintain your education, and continue to seek ways to add value.
- Fee compression in the asset management space is illuminating the importance of scale. People are more focused on paying the lowest fee than getting the best product.
- MiFID II is most likely to hurt small firms and potentially help larger firms.
- Markets need not be efficient.
- Value, you can teach. Helping a person understand how to project earnings power two to three years into the future is not mechanical—it may be harder to teach that in an MBA program.
- Meeting with company management can bias your decision-making process! Charismatic leaders tend to convince you to invest in their companies even if that company falls short in other parts of your investment process. Keep that in consideration.
With the conclusion of the panel, the attendees made their way back to the Presidents Room for a final picture to cap off the night.
Overall, the 20th anniversary celebration of the Parker Center was a night filled with great food, better company, and insightful discussion. In parting, I believe the only thought on the minds of the attendees was this:
Let’s not wait 10 years to do this again.
About Mark Krutty, Two-Year MBA ’19
Mark Krutty is a second-year MBA candidate at Johnson. Before business school, Mark worked as a telecommunications engineer for Burns & McDonnell, a Kansas City–based engineering consulting company. He helped design private fiber optic networks for utility companies. Prior to Burns & McDonnell, Mark worked at Devon Energy, an upstream oil and gas company in Oklahoma City. After graduation, Mark will be heading to American Century Investments to work as an analyst on a mid-cap growth strategy. Mark holds a BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Kansas.