Coach Spotlight: Matt Ihle

The annual Magnetar Academy Team Challenge gives students first-hand experience of what it’s like to work on a trading floor in a simulated stock competition. For the past six years, over 180 financial service professionals from numerous Chicagoland financial firms have supported the event. These individuals hail from a variety of backgrounds and serve in a multitude of roles within the financial services industry.

During the competition, each coach is paired for the day with a team of students, and helps them to develop an investment process for their $100,000 mock stock portfolio. Teams can win up to $5,000 for their school.

This month, we chatted with second-time coach Matt Ihle, who enjoyed the experience enough to coach again this year. “There aren’t many things I can think of that would keep me from volunteering every year,” he wrote to us after the interview.

Matt is a Fixed Income analyst at Magnetar Capital who works on corporate credit strategies, and he’s been at the firm for over two years. He graduated in finance at the University of Illinois, worked in corporate consulting for four years, and then spent four years in sell-side equity research at a global broker dealer before he joined the firm. In 2016, he completed his MBA at the University of Chicago.

Last year was Matt’s first year coaching the Team Challenge, and he was excited to participate after he was selected to coach the students of his childhood friend. “Out of the 45 teams from 34 schools, I was randomly paired with his team! It was pretty cool to work alongside the best man [from my wedding], to coach the kids through the competition.”

Matt was motivated to return to coaching this year because of his passion for finance and the market, which he himself developed in high school. He appreciated that the Team Challenge gave him a unique opportunity to meet young people who are intellectually curious about finance, helping them develop practical skills for adulthood.

“Financial literacy training is something that is severely lacking not only in primary education, but in the country generally,” Matt told us, highlighting the immense need for greater financial literacy as a reason why all schools should participate in the Academy Challenge. “[It’s] a great way to teach kids about personal finance and investing, and also get them excited to continue pursuing knowledge and wisdom in these areas so they leave school with the tools they need to succeed in the world.”

For coaches who are new to the challenge, Matt encourages them to take the position seriously, using it as an opportunity to impart their wisdom on young people. “You have something to offer these kids,” he notes.

If you’re inspired to help students learn and engage with finance, we’d love your help! Reach out to us at to sign up as a coach or fill out this application form!