UW Oshkosh alumni family invests in student success

University of Wisconsin Oshkosh graduates, Peter ’81, Marilyn ’81, Josh ’09, and Zach ’11, Mersberger established the Mersberger Financial Group Fund for SMEF scholarships in 2014 as a way to support students.

“Josh and I both received scholarships as UW Oshkosh students. We saw firsthand how much it helped and we wanted to give back to a program we learned so much from,” Zach Mersberger ’11, said.

Zach and his brother Josh ’09—financial advisers at their family’s business, the Mersberger Financial Group, in Sheboygan Falls—studied business with an emphasis in finance. They also participated in the Student Managed Endowment Fund (SMEF), a project assigned in Finance 438 in which students gain hands-on experience in fund management.

The SMEF program has more than $600,000 in assets under management, divided between seven portfolios. Students manage the portfolios by developing or revising each portfolio’s investment policy statement (IPS), evaluating financial assets and investment strategies, implementing appropriate investment strategies, monitoring and rebalancing each portfolio relative to its IPS, and evaluating the performance of each portfolio and individual holding.

“I chose UW Oshkosh because I knew its business program was very good, the campus felt like a good fit, the small class sizes offered through the University Honors Program and knowing they had the SMEF program,” Zach said.

For Josh, UW Oshkosh felt like home because classes are taught by professors instead of teaching assistants. He said he also gained real-world experience through the SMEF Program. “Not only do you have to analyze investments, you also have to back it up and defend your ideas to the class, just like you would a client,” he said. “That experience was something I would not have had at another university.”

Josh and Zach’s parents, Peter ’81, and Marilyn ’81, said UW Oshkosh’s national and regional accreditation and the availability of scholarships were a big draw for their sons.

“Both Josh and Zach had the opportunity to go to Big 10 schools, but they received good scholarships and financial aid packages at UW Oshkosh,” Marilyn said. “It helped us realize that we wanted to give back through scholarships.”

Helping people is at the core of the Mersberger Financial Group’s values. Establishing a scholarship fund that awards one to two scholarships a year to students in the SMEF program that had such an impact on their sons just made sense.

“Having a good education is key,” Peter said. “If we can help make paying for college easier for students, that’s a good feeling.”

Continued financial support and a community that supports graduates through employment—full-time and through internships—only adds to the educational value of a UW Oshkosh degree, Zach said.

“Having the support of a community really fosters a good learning environment and increases the services the University can offer,” Josh added. “We know we can turn to the University to help us meet our staffing needs with quality graduates and interns.”

Invest in the future, today!

The Student-Managed Endowment Fund program recently celebrated its 15th anniversary on campus. UW Oshkosh students involved in the program manage seven portfolios, including the newest Mersberger Financial Group Fund.

Learn more about SMEF or donate to the SMEF or the program’s very own trading room.

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