West Point: teaching leadership and risk management through investing

Aaron W. Stark (Department of Social Sciences, US Military Academy, West Point, New York, USA)
Isaac Wisniewski (US Department of Defense, Washington, District of Columbia, USA)

Managerial Finance

ISSN: 0307-4358

Publication date: 7 March 2019



The purpose of this paper is to look at how the faculty at West Point uses a student-managed investment fund (SMIF) to contribute to the development of Army officers.


The United States Military Academy at West Point started a student-managed investment fund in 1983. The Economics program, which has four finance classes within its curriculum, hosts the student-run SMIF. The students (cadets) in charge of the SMIF have recently started pursuing a risk parity strategy. This paper discusses the challenges that arise from taking on this strategy.


It argues that investment management, especially with a risk-aware strategy, helps the cadets learn to manage the risk/reward tradeoff as well as help them work on leadership skills, both of which will help them as future Army officers.


The authors suggest that the recent student-initiated changes to the SMIF at West Point highlight some of the leadership opportunities inherent to approaching a SMIF from a risk-aware, portfolio-based perspective. This can teach students important experiential lessons about how to manage prudent risk both in finance and as a leader.



Stark, A. and Wisniewski, I. (2019), "West Point: teaching leadership and risk management through investing", Managerial Finance, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/MF-07-2018-0335

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