TRU builds state of the art trades lab

Students get to gain stock market trading experience with hands-on lab

On Nov. 4, Thompson Rivers University (TRU) officially opened the Raymond James Trading Lab, a purpose-built lab outfitted with sophisticated research and analysis software used for managing investments.

The new trading lab will elevate experiential learning by providing professional training and research experience for our students. The new trading lab is inspired by Adam Burke and Jacob Lawrence, two business students who wanted to get the hands-on experience of a stock trading floor.   

In addition, they created the TRU Student Investment Fund (TRUSIF) in 2019 with support from Raymond James, TRU and the Chartered Financial Analyst Society.

Through TRUSIF, students manage a portfolio of Canadian and U.S. equities, gaining valuable knowledge and skills in equity research, financial modelling, portfolio tracking, teamwork and public relations.

They pitched their idea to the university and Vancouver-based investment dealer Raymond James jumped at the opportunity to donate $550,000 and bring it to life.

The Dean of the School of Business and Economics at TRU, ​​Michael Henry, said this lab will give students a competitive advantage when they’re applying for jobs.

Burke, a business student, said “we’re also just helping each other get internships, like helping us polish up each other’s resumes and cover letters and sort of getting as much alumni base as possible.”

Also, “So that you know in 10, 15 years, I can come back from my job and bridge connections for students in the fund that just weren’t there before,” he added.

Henry said, “they’ve had the experience of being on a trading floor virtually and using the software and working with traders, so they know how to interact, they know how to make decisions, they know how to provide good advice, based on sound data.”

Paul Siluch of Raymond James (Canada) Ltd. has worked as a portfolio manager with TRU since 1993 when the institution was still Cariboo College. He has witnessed the enthusiasm expressed by students assigned the task of investing a small part of the university’s investment portfolio. 

“When these remarkable students came to us and said we have this idea for a portfolio management course, we thought, what a great way for all of us to win,” Siluch said.

Raymond James is providing software training and mentorship to TRUSIF as the cohort of 11 students continues managing their funds. Since the creation of TRUSIF, some original members have already moved on to careers in the industry.

“It’s worth noting that one of our main goals in creating this fund was to create something that would operate in perpetuity. We want future students to benefit from the network and resources that we’ve built,” Lawrence said.

“We’re really excited to have concrete support from an industry player,” Burke said. “The new trading floor will provide TRU students the advantageous opportunity to practice with professional resources.”