U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Daniel Collins ’15 earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School because he wanted to help young Marines improve their financial situations.
He credits Mays’ Tanner Fund class with helping him translate theory into practice, lessons he now shares with cadets as Rice University’s assistant professor of naval science and as a marine officer instructor at Rice and Prairie View A&M University. “The class connected reality to theory,” Collins said. “It gave me a long-term viewpoint of investments and an understanding of how different sectors and markets correlate.”
This type of hands-on experience through the student-run Tanner and Reveille funds strengthens Aggies’ financial acumen so they can assist in building the world’s prosperity. “We hope providing students with real-world experiences will prepare them for successful finance careers,” said Mays Business School Executive Professor Brent Adams ’89, who oversees the Reveille Fund.
The Tanner Fund
Established more than two decades ago, the Tanner Fund was Mays’ first student-run investment fund, thanks to a $250,000 donation from Jamey and Richard “Dick” Tanner ’53. An astute investor, Dick was drawn to the idea of providing Aggies with a hands-on investment experience. “Any time you can work hands-on—whether it’s engineering, writing or any endeavor—you learn how to do something,” he said. “If you learn to do it well, that’s even better.”
The course is structured to mirror an investment committee. Students evaluate the previous class’s investment strategy, review the current state of S&P 500 economic sectors and research potential investments before reaching a consensus on investment recommendations.
Over the years, the fund has grown to nearly $1 million—and the Tanners upped the ante in 2016. The couple stipulated that if the fund exceeds $1 million on March 31 of any given year, 4% of it ($40,000) can be used to create scholarships for finance students.
“About 1,000 students have participated in the Tanner Fund course,” said Mays Executive Professor Jene Tebeaux. “It shows the impact that can happen if someone is willing to make a donation.”
The Reveille Fund
The only one of its kind in the nation, the Reveille Fund began in 2021 when The University of Texas/Texas A&M Investment Management Company (UTIMCO)—one of the largest allocators on Wall Street—allocated $7.5 million to both Texas A&M and The University of Texas to be used for student-run investment funds.
Through a Department of Finance class taught by Adams, Aggies analyze and select individual securities, monitor portfolio performance, and report results and rationales for Reveille Fund portfolio selections to UTIMCO personnel. “This fund is exceptionally unique due to its visibility and high level of accountability,” Adams said.
In addition to relative return benchmarked to the S&P 500, the class keeps a laser focus on the portfolio’s absolute return so that students learn how to make money, no matter the state of the market’s environment. While students serve as outside fiduciary agents for the Reveille Fund, all the money remains with UTIMCO, which makes distributions to support The Texas A&M University System and The University of Texas System.
The class also enhances the connection between UTIMCO’s investment staff and Mays’ students and faculty. “We worked closely with Texas A&M faculty to establish investment guidelines for the fund and create criteria for student fund manager selection,” said Susan Chen, UTIMCO’s senior managing director for public equity. “In addition, professional managers in our organization present annually to the student fund managers on investment- and career-related topics.”
In its first year, the Reveille Fund grew to $9 million in assets under management. “This class taught me how to orchestrate people in a high-stakes environment because this is real money, and we have a real mandate from UTIMCO to perform,” said Joseph Escobar ’22, a finance major who will join the Jefferies Group after graduation. “This is a class in title only. The result is more than a good grade; it’s the ultimate test of students as portfolio managers.”