Experience Pays Off for Student Investors

Award-winning professor’s classes explore the stock market using real money
Sebastian Royo and William Johnson, who is holding
Acting Provost Sebastián Royo and Finance Professor William Johnson at Suffolk's 2019 Symposium on Innovation in Teaching & Learning, where Johnson was awarded the Innovative Teaching Award. 

Real World. Real Money.

These are the words that Finance Professor William Johnson uses to inspire students investing in the stock market—using actual dollars from a special fund.

“It’s easy to engage students in my classes because what they do has real implications,” said Johnson.

Johnson’s hands-on approach as an educator earned him the Innovative Teaching Award at Suffolk’s 2019 Symposium on Innovation in Teaching & Learning, an annual event where faculty and staff celebrate and reflect on the year’s pedagogical efforts.

Investment in learning

The Sawyer Business School’s James and Anne Wilcox Student Investment Club and Scholarship Fund, established five years ago by Karen Wilcox O’Connor, Class of 1982, provides students with an opportunity to learn how financial markets and investment management organizations function.

Students in Johnson’s Investment Analysis & Portfolio Management and Securities Analysis courses use Wilcox Fund money to make stock market investment decisions entailing portfolio analysis, sector selection, and individual security valuation.

The investments have had an annualized return of 9.93 percent since inception. The proceeds stay in the fund to support future investments and scholarships.

“The bottom line is that students are creating a portfolio and monitoring its performance,” said Johnson. “They are learning how to sell or add to the portfolio in an actual financial environment.”

The professor and his students in his class focus on running a legitimate investment fund with a board of directors comprised of Suffolk alumni. Students take on roles such as president, portfolio manager, economist, and sector analyst.

“Everyone is involved, and they get to specialize in different ways,” said Johnson. “It’s rewarding to see the students learn in a real-life situation.”

Gesture of appreciation

Montana Darling, Class of 2019, took a number of classes with Johnson and was so impressed by his teaching methods that she submitted a letter recommending him for the Innovative Teaching Award.

“His classes exposed me to a practical approach to research and research services and gave me great experience,” said Darling.

“For example, in an internship interview, I was able to discuss my practical investment experience as the president of the Securities Analysis class and putting together the semester investment report, and they were very enthusiastic in that experience I had.”


Tony Ferullo
Office of Public Affairs

Greg Gatlin
Office of Public Affairs