UAM News

UAM Receives Donation to Launch Investment Club for All Students

Attached photo: Kevin Stephenson speaks to the UAM Investment Club at the organization’s inaugural meeting on November 9, 2023.

MONTICELLO, Ark. — When Kevin Stephenson met Scott Saffold through the University of Arkansas Foundation, Inc., where the two serve on the Board of Directors, Stephenson was looking for a university that wanted help to launch an investment club for college students. Saffold, executive vice president and senior loan officer of Union Bank & Trust in Monticello, saw an opportunity to collaborate and told Stephenson about his alma mater, the University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM).

Upon visiting UAM, Stephenson personally donated $11,000 to fund the club, which is housed in the UAM School of Business but is open to all students on campus. “Every student should learn about investing, no matter their major. Joining an investment club is a fun and effective way to do that,” Stephenson explains. “After visiting the UAM campus last fall and meeting the amazing students, faculty and staff, I knew I had to get involved, especially with the UAM Investment Club.”

Stephenson’s personal contribution will fund the activities of the club, materials for meetings, online resources to research investment opportunities and potential field trips and attendance at conferences. But he is not just giving financial support to the project. He also attended the club’s first meeting on November 9, 2023, to share his expertise in investment strategies and introduce students to job opportunities outside of banking for finance majors. Stephenson is an expert on the subject, as he currently serves as the president of the Walton Investment Team, LLC and is co-chief investment officer of the Walton Foundation.

Dr. Shanna Knowles, faculty co-advisor of the UAM Investment Club, explains the importance of students having access to guest speakers like Stephenson, stating, “It’s not often that students have the opportunity to sit in the room and learn from an investor who manages money of that magnitude.”

With Dr. Knowles and faculty co-advisor Becky Phillips at the helm of the club, more than two dozen students joined within the first few weeks.

“We want to make an appeal to all students at UAM, not just business majors, to join the UAM Investment Club and learn the skill of personal investing. This is knowledge that is so important for them to take into their adult lives,” Dr. Knowles says.

The club meets twice per month to hear from guest speakers with expertise in various areas of finance.

Phillips offers her thanks to Saffold for helping to bring this opportunity to students at UAM, stating, “Scott Saffold has been very instrumental in supporting the launch of this club, and he is giving his time because of his love for UAM. He is attending the meetings to share his expertise, and he is helping us to arrange guest speakers from the community for future meetings.”

Saffold has big hopes for the outcomes of the club. “I hope the students learn the importance of starting to invest early and how this pays dividends at retirement or at big life moments. I hope it helps them create more retirement income by more informed investing of retirement funds. I hope it creates wealth that can help with down payments on homes, children’s educations, etc. I also hope it creates a broader knowledge of career opportunities in the investment industry,” Saffold says.

The club regrouped after the winter break and had its second meeting on January 25, 2024. Guest speaker Marsha Masters, associate director of Economics Arkansas, helped kick off the club’s first competition by announcing that her employer, Economics Arkansas, is paying the entry fee for UAM teams participating in the Stock Market Game, which is a national investment competition that takes place for thirteen weeks from January to April 2024. Teams of three to four students will pretend to have $100,000 to invest in a simulation stock market. They must learn about various types of investments and assess risks with the objective of having the most money by the end of the thirteen-week game. During the meeting, Masters taught students in the club how to use the game’s software to invest and compete.

“Although the game is short, only 13 weeks, we hope students learn to be long-term investors,” Masters says. “We want students to learn about investing at a young age because we know that it will benefit them and their future.”

UAM will compete against colleges across the state, and Economics Arkansas is offering a $125 prize to the winning collegiate team from Arkansas. Local Edward Jones Investments financial advisor Jay Jones, a former vice chancellor at UAM, is also sponsoring a cash prize of $100 per team member for the top-performing UAM team.

At the January meeting, Saffold introduced students to valuable investment resources, such as Morningstar, allowing students to research reports on investments to drive their decisions during The Stock Market Game. “For me, the club is an opportunity for our students to learn about investing through various levels of industry investment experts speaking to the club, as well as an opportunity to gain practical experience through investing $100,000 through the Stock Market Game. I think we have a great opportunity through the club to provide added value to the education they will receive at UAM,” Saffold says. 

Dr. Peggy Doss, chancellor of UAM, offered thanks to those involved in bringing the club to UAM, stating, “I want to express my gratitude to Kevin Stephenson for his generous donation to fund the UAM Investment Club. Thanks to his support, our students will have the opportunity to learn about the important life skill of investing. I would also like to extend thanks to Scott Saffold for bringing this opportunity to UAM. It is a shining example of the importance of alumni bringing resources to the university and supporting the next generation of students.” 

For more information about the UAM Investment Club, contact Becky Phillips at or (870) 460-1111 or Dr. Shanna Knowles at or (870) 460-1311.

UAM News is everything from the University of Arkansas At Monticello.

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