Michael D. Ice is a professor of finance at the University of Rhode Island.
Ice recently joined URI after spending about 30 years working on Wall Street. He’s currently teaching undergraduate finance classe, but will also teach at the graduate level once the university launches its master’s course, which he expects could start in the fall.
Ice talks with Providence Business News about how he’s sharing his wealth of knowledge with undergraduates, using the equity markets to make the classroom more practical.
PBN: What do you have planned for the upcoming semester?
ICE: This last semester I taught 320, which is Introduction to Finance. All business majors take it, so they’re not necessarily finance students. The 320 course is a prerequisite for 321, which I’ll teach this semester, so it’s a step up. It’s all juniors and seniors, and it’s very difficult for students. You cover a lot of information, but we tend to focus it more toward the equity markets and portfolios, because we have a fixed-income class and a derivatives class, but we don’t have a separate equity class. It’s a tough one; it’s one of the more difficult finance classes.
PBN: Since you focus on equity markets, do you use real-life scenarios in the classroom?
ICE: Absolutely. Every student is required a subscription to The Wall Street Journal, particularly because we’ll break the class halfway through and discuss current events. This semester we’ll have Bloomberg on campus, so everyone will be required to become Bloomberg certified and we’ll have mock trading as part of the class. I pushed hard for Bloomberg and got it, so I’ll require everyone to get certified. But by definition I’m going to make the class more practical.
PBN: Do students respond well to practicality?
ICE: Yes. None of this is meant to be negative toward academics, but I get to bring the practical world into academic and research. Seeing as I’ve done it professionally for an extended period of time, I know what type of skill set will be required. I think the academics are important and many of the academic theories lend themselves to things professionals use day to day. Some don’t, but many do. It’s important that the students have the academic and theory behind it. But it’s important they understand it intuitively, so I don’t want students memorizing solutions to problems. I want them to be critical thinkers.
PBN: How do you get students to that point?
ICE: That’s where bringing it into the current world helps. I talk about the market and trading and what to expect it to do next. That’s ultimately what they’re gearing toward, so they need to get the knowledge base. I try to bring it a little bit closer and a little more practical for them in the classroom and I think they like it. Not all, but the majority really want to know, “Why do I need to know this?” I can remember asking the same question when I was a student.
PBN: Looking at the global marketplace and its rocky start in 2016, what should people look for in the new year?
ICE: I would preface this by saying that these are my personal thoughts, but I’m underinvested. I probably have more cash than I have for quite some time. Normally I stay relatively invested. But I’m not because I think the price multiples in the market are high. I think there’s risk out there; there’s China risk, you’ve got oil prices down and I think they’ll stay down. I wouldn’t say that makes me bearish, but I’m not worried about inflation, so a bunch of cash doesn’t scare me. I will invest, but I think there’s a reasonable chance I can get in cheaper. I’ve been right since the beginning of the year. I don’t think the market is going to collapse, but I think it’s a little pricey and I think I’ll get an opportunity to get in cheaper. I want to have some powder dry.