Investment Analysis – Hands-on Learning

Stock-Trak Project

Professor Peter Trager uses the Stock-Trak virtual trading simulation in his Investment Analysis class at the Gatton College of Business and Economics, (University of Kentucky).

“I use Stock-Trak more than other professors,”

he said, as he introduced himself.

With a background of 30 years on Wall Street, he looks at teaching finance very differently than focusing on theoretical knowledge.

A third of the class grade comes from students using the Stock-Trak platform to manage their virtual investment portfolio. He emphasizes commodities and encourages his students to get experience investing in currencies, mutual funds, and bonds. By the end of his class, Trager aims to have his students be comfortable with all the available products. Not just stocks.

He’s found that students are hesitant to trade in asset classes they are unfamiliar with; even while using the online simulation. So now he has a certain number of trades due every week. By making trade notes mandatory for every trade they place on the platform, students can keep a detailed trading journal. Twice per semester they turn them in, at the midterm and again at the end of the semester.

Part of building a diversified portfolio in his class requires turning over their holdings a few times over the course of the semester. He’s found that pushing students to get direct experience of the financial markets is important to overcoming their fears.

Once per semester, students present in front of the class. They share ideas and talk about what’s going on in the markets. There are 4 students per group and each group presents for 5 minutes each. They’re asked to go beyond the US equity market and look at what’s happening around the world. Students need to think beyond headline news.

Students get practice with different order types as well, like shorting currencies. Trager shows them the trades that made him the most money in his career. He’ll place trades in his own virtual account, like how to buy and sell Japanese Yen. Then, he shows them the available charts and past presentations so that students have everything they need to succeed.

Past Student Trade Journals

Click the buttons below to view two examples of past students from Professor Trager’s class for their final portfolio analysis. They provide their rationale and lessons learned from the trades they placed while using the virtual simulation.

Bond Position

Students are encouraged to sell bonds even if the interest rates are up. It helps them understand stocks and other securities.

Multiplier Effect

Students place 2 contracts for futures, and they go over this early in the semester so they can see how much they are exposed in the different markets.

He shows his students 4-5 good looking journals. You can check out a couple of the top journals from past students, as well as an example of an end-of-year group presentation.

He practices the policy of less textbook and exams, but more work. On top of managing their virtual portfolios, 10 guest speakers are invited to speak from the capital markets. Students submit six questions over the course of the semester to contribute to the discussion, based on where each speaker has been.

“Anyone can get lucky. Ideas don’t work and that’s okay. It’s about improving and developing your own investing style,” Trader explained, “I’m a singles and doubles trader myself.”

In terms of class settings, Trager has all the markets and securities available from the beginning of class. Credit and margin trading are harder to understand, but getting exposure early helps to build students’ understanding. For futures, students are recommended to keep them farther out to avoid having them expire worthless.

One big lesson learned was to introduce foreign exchanges earlier in the semester. It all comes back to exposure, and Stock-Trak gives students exactly that.

Professor Trager wants them to learn how the financial markets work and most of them do by being more curious and overcoming their hesitancy to trade and learning about global markets.

Fall 2022 Syllabus

Professor Trager kindly shared his syllabus with us, so that you can take a look at how he structures his course. Click this link to view a PDF for his Fall 2022 class.

Class Settings

Here are the main trading settings used in Professor Trager’s class. You can fully customize all the parameters to fit the focus of your course. Professors can choose to have their virtual portfolio appear on the rankings page; this has been shown to increase student engagement.

Trading Setting
SecuritiesEquities, stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, futures, forex,
ExchangesUnited States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Amsterdam, Athens, Brussels, Budapest, Denmark, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Finland, Ireland, Lisbon, London, Munich, Paris, Stuttgart, Sweden, Switzerland, Vienna, Spain, Norway, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, New Zealand, Seoul, Shanghai, Shenzen, Mumbai, Tokyo, Jakarta, Bangkok, Sydney, Taiwan, Tel Aviv, Vietnam
Initial Cash$1,000,000
Margin TradingAllowed, with a 3% interest rate
Short SellingAllowed, with $5.00 as the minimum shorting price
Day TradingAllowed, with 300 total trades available
Position Limit10% for equities, 25% for bonds, options and mutual funds
Trade NotesRequired
Professor PortfolioIncluded on rankings page

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