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How To Start An Investment Club in High School
Extracurriculars are an important part of the high school experience. Not only do they look great on your college applications, but also they can serve as essential lessons in time management and commitment, along with providing some exposure to important real world experiences.
Many schools offer a wide range of activities to choose from, often with something to suit nearly any area of interest. But, sometimes you may be determined to gain experience in something that isn’t formally offered by your school, and if that’s the case you may decide to start your own club.
If you’re interested in finances and investing, but your school doesn’t offer an Econ Club or you just aren’t excited by its focus, you might consider starting your own investment club. These clubs can serve as important first experiences with the stock market, investments, and financial responsibility.
To learn more about why you might consider starting an investment club, how to go about forming the club, and what to do in club meetings once it’s established, read on.
Why Start An Investment Club?
An investment club is a great way to gain insight and experience into the world of finance. You will learn about investing money, playing the stock market, and pursuing careers in finance. You might also even gain some experience with trading, whether through simulations or, in rare cases, the investment of real money.
Starting your own investment club is a great idea if you have an interest in finance but no club at your school available to develop these interests. In an investment club you can expect to learn more about making smart financial choices from like-minded peers, mentors, and guest speakers.
Furthermore, starting your own club reflects well on your college applications by showing your ability to take initiative and lead effectively.
How to Start a Club
Starting a new high school club isn’t always easy. Generally, you will have to follow your school’s prescribed path to find a faculty adviser, apply for club status, and outline a budget and operations plan.
You’ll also need to recruit club members. In the case of an investment club, you will probably find club members if you advertise your club heavily through math, econ, and other quantitative classes. You can also recruit members by pointing out the positives of careers in finance, namely that you can rise quickly up the pay scale after only four years of undergrad studies.
For more information about forming your own club in high school, read CollegeVine’s How To Start a Club in High School.
What To Do At Your First Investment Club Meetings
You might think that cutting through the red tape to actually form your investment club is the hardest part, but that’s only the beginning. Once the club is approved and operational, now you’re suddenly responsible for running it.
At your first meeting or two, the focus should be on introductions and team-building. Make sure that your club members are growing as a team and bonding together. Ensure that everyone knows everyone else’s names and a little about each other.
Once that’s happened, your focus can move on to electing or appointing club leadership. After you have a solid leadership team in place, you’ll no longer be the sole person responsible for planning every club meeting.
Build Common Knowledge
Most likely, your club will need to begin with some background information to ensure that all members of the club are fluent in certain content-specific vocabulary and are familiar with the most basic elements of investing.
Towards the beginning of the official club meetings, be sure to give a broad overview of the field of investment. Then, move on to the specific vocabulary and concepts that every member of the group needs to know in order to be able to participate. You should assume no common knowledge to start with if you want all members of the club to be on even footing.
The introductory concepts that you cover should at least include: what the stock market is, what a stock represents, equity, ways to trade, strategies, indicators, and reputable places to do research on stocks.
You should also consider watching some informational videos about investments and smart financial decision-making. This Bill Ackman video is straightforward and gets good reviews for approaching the topic of finances from a beginner’s perspective. At around an hour long, it’s probably the right length to spend an entire meeting watching and discussing. Another good place to start is this shorter video from Warren Buffet.
These videos will reinforce some of the vocabulary that you introduced in the initial meetings and will help contextualize the information for you and your fellow club members.
Another way to reinforce this information or to build on your collective knowledge as a group is to complete readings between club meetings. You might assign a book to be read over time, or you might source shorter handouts to read. Sometimes, it can even be helpful to assign a few different readings to different club members and ask them to share their knowledge gained from them at the next meeting.
A few good books to consider starting with are 99 Minute Millionaire, The Compound Effect, and The Intelligent Investor. There are also a number of shorter articles that make good reference handouts available for free at the website High School Investing. These articles include topics like “How to Choose Stock,” “Portfolio Diversification,” and “Stock Exit Strategies.”
Engage in the Information
As you build common knowledge together, also be sure to make it come alive. By engaging in the information, thinking critically, and making it interesting, you and other members of the club are more likely to remember it and know how to apply it.
One way to engage your knowledge is by applying it to and discussing timely events. Monitor the news or assign a member of the club to do so. Include time at each club meeting to talk about current events related to the finance sector. It’s unlikely that everyone in your club will hold the same political beliefs, so allow for respectful debate about financial issues.
Another fun way to engage your knowledge is to watch and discuss movies together. Some popular hits that include relevant material are “Margin Call,” “Inside Job,” and “Boiler Room.” You can find a more complete list of relevant movies on Market Index.
Before you watch any movies in your club, be sure to check what the regulations are at your school for watching movies in clubs. Some schools have strict rules about what ratings can be viewed during school-sanctioned events. Other schools focus less on the rating and more on the content. Be sure to check what the rules are at your school before showing any films. Your faculty adviser should be able to provide some insight.
Real World Exposure
You should definitely try to give your club members an idea of what the real world of finances and investing is like. One way to do this is to bring in guest speakers who can talk about their work and life experiences. These could be community members, local business leaders, or connections of the school or club members. Try to draw a broad variety of speakers to give a more diverse view of what investing looks like in the real world.
Another valuable real world experience is visiting colleges with strong business and economic programs. Try to arrange a campus tour or a meeting with a relevant member of the faculty in advance. You might even know an alum from your high school who can help to arrange the visit.
Stock Trading Simulations
Finally, the most common and often the most exciting element of an investment club in high school is often a stock trading simulation. Because the logistics of trading actual money through a high school club are so complex, this is the option chosen by the majority of high school clubs.
In a stock trading simulation, you buy and sell stock through an online program that simulates the real stock market. You can arrange it such that members of the club participate individually or compete against each other in small groups, or such that your club competes virtually against other high school investment clubs.
While most high schools limit the stock trading experience to simulations, this is not always the case. In rare cases, more established investment clubs have been able to secure donations from alums or funding from local businesses to invest. This is not common, but if you are able to prove a successful track record through simulations, this could possibly be an option to explore. You can read the story of a small, private Dallas high school that received $100,000 for its investment club on CNNMoney.
Consider Giving Back
Every club should strive to give back to the community that supports it, and an investment club is no different. Once you have a solid base of knowledge and a little experience under your belt, consider giving a talk at your school about saving for college or starting a retirement account. Or, visit a local elementary school to talk about opening a savings account. Incorporating a service project into your investment club not only shares your knowledge with a larger audience, but also shows your dedication to the content and your commitment to giving back.
Starting an investment club is a great idea if you’re interested in investing and your school doesn’t yet have a club to support your interests. By planning the club founding process in advance, anticipating what you’ll do at club meetings, and setting a goal for stock simulation participation, you can ensure that your investment club is a success.
To learn more about starting a club or pursuing investment in high school, consider CollegeVine’s Mentorship Program, which provides practical advice on topics from high school activities and college applications to career aspirations, all from successful college students who have been in your shoes.
For more information about classes and activities for students interested in business and investing, see these CollegeVine posts: