The Practicum is an intensive program spanning the last half of the fall semester and the first half of the spring semester, during which students work directly with sponsoring companies on a wide variety of finance problems.
Students may indicate an area of interest for their practicum project in early fall. Students work in small groups under the supervision of the MSF program director to complete the project, earning practical experience and developing a strong relationship with corporations and potential employers.
The MSF program director and Finance Department faculty work with various finance-related organizations to design projects that are valuable to MSF students and benefit the sponsoring group. Projects are designed to be accomplished within the Practicum time frame and culminate in a written report and presentation of work to the sponsoring company and program faculty.
2012-2013 Practicum Projects
UTIMCO - Private Portfolio Valuation
MSF Students will value numerous private investments held in UTIMCO's portfolio, using a template designed by UTIMCO and the students. Valuations will include basic DCF analysis, sensitivity analysis, and the use of comparable metrics such as transactions or investment and valuation data on comparable investments. Students will have weekly meetings and/or phone calls with sponsoring UTIMCO contact to ensure they are moving in the right direction. The final deliverable will be a report and presentation to the investment committee.
UTIMCO - Natural Resources
MSF Students will evaluate the opportunities available for UTIMCO to invest in natural resources. Students will study various natural resources like metals and energy resources, and use long-term supply and demand analysis to develop an understanding of the opportunities and risks in potential natural resource investments. Similar to the Africa project, students will spend the first part of the project developing an overview understanding of the natural resource investment landscape, and in the second half of the project the students will concentrate on a few promising natural resource investment ideas. There will be weekly meetings or phone calls with sponsoring UTIMCO employee to ensure students are moving in the right direction. The final deliverable will be a report and presentation to the investment committee.
UTIMCO - Africa
MSF Students will evaluate all countries in Africa for potential investment opportunities on the continent using a rubric defined by UTIMCO.
Screening points will include
- geopolitical environment
- capital markets
- local government
- and friendliness towards international investors.
As students become familiar with the investment opportunities on the continent and are able to eliminate some countries as potential investment opportunities, they'll deepen their understanding of the remaining countries and work towards concentrating on a select few African countries with recommendations for the investment committee. This project will give students a real-world look and experience with the type of basic research required prior to investing in a country, a deal, or a fund. Students will have weekly meetings and/or phone calls with sponsoring UTIMCO contact to ensure they are moving in the right direction. The final deliverable will be a report and presentation to the investment committee.
Teachers Retirement System
MSF students will have the opportunity to research and learn a specific trade in-depth. One of the “benchmark” trades in equity derivatives is the relative value between option implied volatility and VIX futures. VIX futures have a linear payoff with changes in the volatility level, while Variance has a squared payout. For this “convexity”, Variance usually trades at a higher implied volatility than VIX, though short term supply and demand can cause it to trade at a discount. Students will develop a model that tracks the volatility premium between the two instruments.
Retail Industry Leaders Association
In partnership with Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), as part of Rila’s Student Program, MSF students work with student mentors from jcpenney and Hart Systems on a Loss Prevention Staffing Allocation project. Students help determine the best way to allocate LP resources to stores to ensure retailers reap the biggest benefit from a shrink, safety and theft elimination standpoint. The project will review metrics to identify a scientific way to assign the right amount of LP resources (hours) to a store. Deliverables include a report and presentation to the entire project team as well as a presentation at the RILA conference.
Networkaire- Internet Start-Up Consulting
Networkaire is an Austin-based Internet start-up that creates private online communities in collaboration with universities. It's currently available at The University of Texas at Austin. MSF students will work with Networkaire to build a spreadsheet model of the business to use in planning and valuation, and try and develop monetization strategies for the business. Students will perform basic market research on competitors and opportunities, and model various opportunities with the spreadsheet business model they create. Students will have weekly meetings and/or phone calls with Networkaire's founder and CEO to ensure they are moving in the right direction and creating value. The final deliverable will be a working spreadsheet model of the business and a presentation to the client on possible future opportunities for the business.
House of Tutors- Learning Center
House of Tutors, Learning Center is considering expansion in both geography and scope of products. They currently offer one-on-one tutoring, test preparation and English as Second Language courses, which are their largest revenue makers. MSF students will perform competitive analysis for House of Tutors, exploring the different successful models in the learning center industry and analyzing what aspects may be drawn into the House of Tutors model.
Students will analyze how House of Tutors could improve their model to allow for expansion in both geography and scope of products, including an analysis and consideration of the costs (i.e. Marketing) necessary to potentially gain a market share from successful competitors. Students will also research and determine how much capital is necessary for the suggested expansion models and the best way for the company to gain the capital needed for expansion. Possible options include: bank loan, equity offering or converting assets. The company also currently has two franchisees, which could be potential options for continued growth.
House of Tutors will allow students access to their current and historical financial statements and are prepared to work with the team to answer any necessary questions for the analysis.
For the final deliverable, students will create and deliver an excel model of the business and a report containing current structure of the company, competitive analysis, proposed growth strategy and options of how to get additional capital for expansion
Employers interested in participating in our Practicum by submitting a project should contact email@example.com for more information.