Real world experience, times two

DENTON, Texas (UNT) — Members of the Student Investment Group at the University of North Texas have lofty goals: increase the initial gift fund establishing the group to $1 million dollars and begin awarding scholarships. The group hopes an audit from accounting students at UNT can help them reach their target.

“The funds are entirely student managed – it’s all up to us,” said Kshitiz “Steve” Shrestha, the investing group’s president. “We have our own regulations, but an outside check is a great opportunity to make sure that we’re doing everything correctly.”

For the audit, about 30 students enrolled in the Seminar in Internal Auditing course are putting their accounting know-how to work.

“It’s a win-win,” said Lydia Leach, a master’s student with a focus in audit. “We’re filling that function for SIG, and it’s real-world experience for us. You have to know the textbook, but the pieces don’t actually come together until you do it yourself.”

The class started 20 years ago to give students hands-on practice in operational auditing. Students create reports complete with risk analysis, goal assessments and action plans. And they ensure rules – such as faculty supervision and quarterly reports on investments – are followed. A professional from the Dallas Chapter of the Institute of Internal Auditors keeps teams on track.

“It’s like using flight simulators to get pilots ready to fly,” said instructor Jose Lineros, a senior lecturer in the Department of Accounting. “It’s incumbent on this class to ensure everything is done correctly, or the investment group could lose thousands of dollars. The audit gives you value so that you can find and fix problems promptly.”

In the investment group, student analysts research options like derivatives and stocks using Bloomberg terminals in UNT’s trading room and later present suggestions to buy, sell or hold. Members and the advisory board of the Student Investment Group vote on recommendations. Advisor Ian Liu takes needed action, and the students observe in real time how their decisions make or loose real money. The group started in 2002 with a $285,000 gift from Col. Guy M. Cloud Jr. The portfolio is currently worth nearly $490,000.

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