Investing in your future: UTM Capital helps students simulate investment portfolios
Laith Sabunchi, UTM Capital’s president, shares how students curate transferrable and investment skills by critically analyzing a company in groups.

So, you’re thinking about saving money for your future? You’re hoping to buy a house to raise your family five years after graduation? You have student debt to repay? What about that limited-edition Raptors jersey you’ve had your eye on? Or that Louis Vuitton wallet and girls-trip to Bora Bora? Oh, you’ve only got 50 bucks in your savings account that your parents set up when you were a kid?

What if I had a solution for you? The University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) is home to a student-led investment fund that acts as a learning space for those interested in investing. Founded in 2018 with $15,000 from corner-stone sponsor Desjardin, UTM Capital has grown considerably and now boasts a record membership of over 130 students. For this academic year, the club has rebranded from its preceding name “UTM Capital Management” and has launched a brand-new website. UTM Capital president, Laith Sabunchi, explains that the club addresses both the theory and real-world applications of investing. Sabunchi himself is a fourth-year economics student who has been thoroughly involved in his department and is currently completing an internship at RBC. He adds that students have the opportunity to “put general principals into practice and curate their own investment presentations recommending the stock of a company they choose.”

Investing and capital management requires more than just $50 in your savings account; it requires research, an understanding of the market, and developing a bias for action. Recent company developments have tended to stray away from providing pensions, leaving post-retirement financial responsibilities to employees. Resources like UTM Capital prepare students, soon entering the workforce, to invest in their futures. UTM Capital’s members benefit from a close association with UTM’s Finance Learning Center (FLC), located in the basement of the Kaneff Centre. The FLCs knowledgeable staff assists students in accessing various financial databases and using financial software to conduct investment research and analysis.

The club, and investing in general, isn’t only for students who are pursuing careers in banking and finance. Sabunchi explains that through workshops, alumni events, and lectures the club connects students—from all backgrounds—to professionals with knowledge in investing. Most important, Sabunchi stresses that “We value a willingness to learn extremely highly.”

Each club member can select which industry group they wish to join; UTM Capital has six industry groups for the 2022-2023 academic year. Each industry group analyzes a company of their choosing throughout the year, culminating in each industry team preparing and presenting an investment recommendation during the club’s annual closing ceremony. Stocks in the three most suitable companies that offer long-term growth potential are acquired and added to UTM Capital’s fund.

The chosen industry groups can cater to the interests of the club’s members. The six groups are metals, mining, and commodities; technology, media, and telecom; power, utilities, and infrastructure; healthcare; consumer and retail; and financial institutions. Sabunchi shares that “we have biology students in our healthcare group, [and] computer science students in our technology group.” He adds that all members of the club “develop both core and interpersonal skills during the year as students continue to work together and explore the process of analyzing a company.” 

When Sabunchi joined the club last year, he became an analyst in the metals and mining group. Sabunchi recalls that he had to ask himself questions that were necessary for assessing the investment opportunities of a company within a particular sector, such as: “What does a company do? How does it make money? Is this something you can easily predict? Will it be successful heading into the future? How is the industry landscape? Is the company exposed to factors it can’t control?”

After presenting a thesis on the industry and the chosen company, MP Materials—a rare-earth materials mining company based in Las Vegas—Sabunchi’s team won the competition, and the company was inducted into the fund’s portfolio. Stepping into the role of president this year, Sabunchi and his team have been occupied with staffing this year’s industry groups, assembling a full investment leadership team, restructuring the club for future success, and hosting several events

Some of the clubs’ alumni are now established within global companies like J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs, Canadian banks like RBC and BMO, and accounting firms like EY and Deloitte. Sabunchi notes that the alumni network is growing, despite the club having launched only five years ago—a young organization compared to other student finance clubs and funds at U of T’s other campuses that date to the late 80s and 90s. “When you first launch an organization like this you aren’t going to see the network effects really manifest themselves until later on down the line, and we’re starting to see that happen this year which is really exciting,” expresses Sabunchi. He adds, “Our alumni network is only going to strengthen over time and payback dividends to students looking to grow their own professional networks and learn more about the professional world.”

UTM Capital is well-supported by UTM’s faculty, administration, and alumni, each serving as mentors who guide the club’s decision-making and developments. So, for students looking to learn about investing, they’re in good hands. For those interested in planning for a brighter financial future, Sabunchi emphasizes that joining at the start of the year is the best way to be a member as participation is continuous and involved. However, for those interested now, they can message any of the executives on social media (@utmcap on Instagram) for more information. 

Editor-in-Chief (Volume 48 & 49) | — Liz is completing a double major in Chemistry and Art History. She previously served as Features Editor for Volume 47, and Editor-in-Chief for Volume 48. Liz is extremely excited to have spent her time as an undergrad at The Medium, and can’t wait to inspire others and be inspired in her final year at UTM. When she’s not studying, working, writing, or editing countless articles, you can find her singing Motown hits at her piano, going on long walks by the lake, or listening to music. You can connect with Liz on her websiteInstagram, or LinkedIn.


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