The Montano Student Investment Fund provides experiential learning for student leaders


Co-founded in 2018 by Trevor Montano, BS Accounting ’00, and Derek Horstmeyer, a professor of finance at the Costello College of Business at George Mason University, the Montano Student Investment Fund (SMIF) is an all-equity investment fund administered by finance students at the Costello College of Business. 

Montano Student Investment Fund Officers
Montano Student Investment Fund Officers

Under the supervision of George Mason University’s Endowment and Board of Trustees, students working on the fund engage in incredible experiences, like building the portfolio, presenting pitches to a committee, and expanding their overall financial expertise in an academic setting. Participants must first complete Finance 477, the student management investment fund course for students to practice pitching stock.

Students selected as officers have the responsibility of managing Mason’s endowment for their respective terms. “The student officers of the Montano SMIF have a huge amount of responsibility and they all take it seriously,” says Horstmeyer. “In addition to managing a segment of the GMU endowment, they help lead Costello Fellows on Wall Street, compete in a nationwide SMIF competition in Chicago each year, and run the Alpha Challenge.”

It was during the Finance 477 course that Christopher Lindholm discovered his passion. “I had been coming to school for marketing, but finance really scratched that itch,” he says. Lindholm became so interested in the subject matter that he was eager to get involved and is currently the president of the investment committee on the SMIF. In order to be an officer for the fund, students must apply and interview with Derek Horstmeyer. “The main thing that made me want to apply for this officer position was Dr. Horstmeyer, like the way he teaches and how he’s so invested in it,” says Clarita Orosco, vice president of the risk committee. “It made me excited to learn more.”

The SMIF has attracted the attention of some of the business school’s most ambitious finance students. “I thought this was a great way for me to get involved on campus, pursue my own interests, and learn more by talking to other finance students and hearing their ideas and different perspectives,” says Sriprajna Medicherla, president of the operations and finance committee. “In finance it’s all about perspective and figuring out what the best decision is given the information.” Medicherla and a few of her teammates got to hear even more perspectives when they went to Chicago for a competition with about fifty other student managed investment fund groups from other universities. “Meeting other SMIF officers from different universities was really interesting and so was hearing their ideas about what they implemented in the fund,” she says.

It is not required to be a finance concentration or even a business major to take part in the SMIF. Gabriel Curtis, president of the risk committee, who is majoring in computer science and minoring in finance, had been exploring ways in which he could make an impact in areas besides computer science. “In finance there’s a lot of opportunities to be a generalist, and that’s honestly what I care about a lot more,” he says.

Every year, the SMIF’s officers present the annual report to the Board of Trustees, showing what was in the portfolio and how everything performed. “You get real world experience with them that you probably wouldn’t find in a typical finance course,” says Lindholm. The ability to manage a real investment fund while receiving active feedback in a classroom setting is an experience that benefits all of the participants, regardless of their career ambitions. “I would say I was able to be more informed,” says Curtis. “I’ve gotten to talk to people who graduated and work in investment banking. That’s where I’m headed now because of the fund.” Orosco adds, “I didn’t realize how many opportunities there were and how many news things Dr. Horstmeyer wanted us to explore.” 

The networking, knowledge, and confidence that these students have acquired through working on the Montano Student Investment Fund have given them the immersive student experience promised at the Costello College of Business. “This much responsibility shows through on their resumes – past officers of the SMIF have gone on to work at Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and private equity shops in New York City, Chicago, and Austin,” says Horstmeyer. Not only are the student leaders prepared for their careers but they are actively being recruited by employers.