Investing in the Future: Blue Blazers’ Investments Hit the $1 Million Mark

For the first time since its creation in 1996, the account balance for Westminster’s Blue Blazers Investment Committee (BBIC) hit $1 million ― $1,013,389.34, to be exact ― on Dec. 1, 2020.

The student-run investment group originally started out in October 1996 with $100,000 from the Board of Trustees. In December of the same year, another $100,000 followed, with the consistent goal of the balance remaining in Westminster’s endowment fund while being managed by the committee.

The portfolio also has supported 10 student trips, including seven to Wall Street.

Outgoing BBIC CEO Connor Felter, ’21 ΦΔΘ, of Columbia, MO, was ecstatic when he heard about the recent $1 million record.

“I think it’s truly amazing that in a matter of a little more than 20 years, the BBIC took a small initial investment from the College and turned it into a $1 million portfolio,” he says.

Founder Brock Ayers, ’82 ΔΤΔ, who serves on the Board of Trustees, launched the BBIC with help from Westminster interns Jenn (Stumpf) Warren, ’97 ΚΑΘ, and Brandon Eckardt, ’97 ΒΘΠ.

The financial advisor with Wells Fargo Advisors explained in an article that he was inspired by a similar organization he began while still a student at Westminster.*

Ayers ran into difficulty because the group had to invest their own money. “There was no mechanism to continue the program,” he explained.

Today the BBIC is composed of 62 members, six of whom are committee executives who oversee small groups whose investments compete with one another. The leaders meet regularly with experienced advisors such as Ayers to manage the group’s portfolios.

Incoming CEO Thomas Booker, ’22 ΦΔΘ, says the Blue Blazer’s investment achievements are made possible through the support committee members receive.

“It shows the years of research, experience, and knowledge this committee has been known for has more than paid off since its founding,” the Biochemistry major from Rolla, MO, says. “It’s a testament to the combined efforts of 20 years’ worth of Westminster alumni and others who have shared a passion for investing.”

Dr. Anisur Rahman, Assistant Professor of Finance and Economics, who currently serves as the BBIC campus advisor, says the students work hard at what they do.

“I have been impressed by the accomplishments and activities of the committee,” Rahman reflects, explaining how investments take place. “The members conduct thorough research about the company where they want to invest, and they present their case, through a stock pitch, to all members and executives.”

Both Rahman and Ayers emphasize that the BBIC is unique because of a vibrant student-led structure that mixes well with mentor involvement, allowing for unique opportunities such as the previously mentioned biennial trips to Wall Street, where alumni in the investment industry and others network with the students.

Overall, the BBIC is a prime example of the experiential learning opportunities available at Westminster, which Felter is pleased he took advantage of throughout his four years at the College. He says he will be graduating from Westminster this spring with a solid knowledge of the stock market.

“The goal three years ago was to hopefully hit the million-dollar mark,” the Physics and Engineering major says, reflecting on his hard work with the BBIC throughout his Westminster education. “We joked that goal was a decade away. We learned that anything can happen with proper investments.”

*Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC.

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Sarah Rummel Backer

Sarah Rummel Backer is a Media and Content Strategist at Westminster College in Fulton, MO. A 1992 graduate of the College, Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and strategic communication in the areas of higher education, medicine, agriculture, and the private business sector.