College basketball has March Madness and now portfolio management has its own competition showcasing young, up and coming talent. The University of Dayton will play host to the first national portfolio competition April 6 through April 8, pitting student-led investment teams against one another in a showdown to determine which schools offer the best managed growth, blend and value funds, according to Dr. David Sauer, associate professor of finance at the University of Dayton.

Investment teams from 15 universities and colleges will explain their funds' past year performance and their investment decisions to a panel of nine judges acting as a mock board of directors. The judges will be professional portfolio managers and include portfolio managers from AIM Funds of Houston, Conseco Capital Management of Carmel, Ind. and Nuveen Investments of Chicago.

National champions in each of the three categories will be named based on the funds' one-year performance and their student-managers' ability to explain their investment decisions, Sauer said.

The opportunity to interact with investment professionals will provide a valuable lesson for the students and a great way for investment companies to spot young portfolio management talent, said Dr. Sauer.

The schools will be rated on their fund's risk-adjusted performance. But, a fund's poor performance can be minimized by a student manager's ability to logically justify his investment decisions, Sauer said.

All of the funds competing in the event hold real assets and invest in actual securities, Sauer said. Managing real assets makes the competition more valuable to the students who learn the cause and effect relationship of market fluctuations and the impact of different investment strategies, he said.

The number of schools offering students the ability to manage "live" portfolios is steadily rising, Sauer said. Of the 400 accredited business schools, nearly 60 offer similar portfolio management programs, he said.

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