Most student groups struggle to gain funding, but for the Georgetown Collegiate Investors LLC, money is less of an issue.

GCI, founded in 1997, claims to be the oldest and largest student-run investment company in the country. For $250, any student at Georgetown can be a member.

“We only use student money, so we have a lot more freedom to invest,” GCI Chief Investment Officer Joe McIlhattan (COL ’14) said.

Last year was a landmark year, with the group managing more than $100,000 of assets in management. Now, GCI is back down to around $60,000 after graduating many of its members in May.

“We force people to cash out when they graduate,” McIlhattan said. “We want to keep student ownership in the group.”

With around 200 members, GCI provides ample opportunities for students looking to manage funds and gain leadership experience.

“Despite how many members are involved with or invested in the fund, all of the different opportunities and meetings are a chance to make the group feel much smaller,” GCI Chief Operating Officer David Finkelstein (COL ’14) said. “Every younger member has awesome opportunities to learn from older members and develop strong networks with people going into lots of great jobs.”

Nine sector heads with teams of analysts are responsible for scouting stocks from fields like telecommunication, technology and healthcare.

“When we vote [on stocks to invest in], we try and keep it anonymous,” McIlhattan said.

Keeping the votes secret allows GCI to objectively select stocks and avoid groupthink
“We hold anywhere between 10 to 18 stocks,” McIlhattan said. “Right now we have 13.”

While the group tries not to concentrate too heavily in any one industry, McIlhattan said it has strong concentration in tech stocks, especially Apple.

“We’ve always been pretty heavy with Apple,” McIlhattan said. “We’re students — we love our tech.”

While still heavily relying on Apple, GCI is looking to broaden its portfolio, drawing on Georgetown’s unique population to widen the group’s perspective.

“We want to be as broad a group as possible. … That’s our edge — the diverse student body of Georgetown,” McIlhattan said. “We generate [gain] through different perspectives. … We want to make it as open as possible.”

The group encourages equal participation from new freshmen to veteran seniors. GCI is very male dominated — only 10 percent of its 200 current members are female.

McIlhattan hopes to recruit more female members and reinforce GCI’s focus on education.

“We’re about learning just as much as we are about investing, so if you have a great stock idea then pitch it,” Mcilhattan said. “It’s the best way to learn.”

Zach Zimmerman (MSB ’14), a former member of GCI, said his experience with the group was valuable.

“I learned at a very high level what to look for in a company [to invest in],” Zimmerman said.

GCI’s first meeting of the year is this coming Monday.

“It keeps you up at night with your own skin in the game,” Mcilhattan said. “It’s fun.”

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