By: Ibbe Ashruf
Every year, thousands of high schools, including Gilman, participate in an online stock portfolio competition where students from across the nation battle it out for the highest stock market return for the charity of their choice. This simulated contest is like investing in the real stock market except with fake money. Although not investing actual money, this has not stopped students like Business Club President Ian Chalk (‘18) and Sam Bloomberg (‘19) from participating.
This competition ends in spring, and of the top 15% of high school students in this competition nationwide, 6% are Gilman students. But, what if, instead of investing fake money in a simulation, Gilman entrusted a small group of talented and business-savvy students with an appropriate amount of money to make real-world investments?
Many colleges, universities, and business schools grant students money to invest side by side with their curriculum. Even some private day schools have granted their students the privilege of investing real money. Greenhill School in Texas, examined by an article in CNNMoney, entrusted a talented group of students $100,000 to invest on behalf of their school. Mr. Sean Furlong, Director of Finance and Administration and faculty advisor to the Business Club, said, “I see this working in one of two ways: The first is in a club capacity where students periodically read and discuss an article from the Wall Street Journal or the Economist as well as looking at their portfolio and seeing why the stocks may have went up or down. We would want this to be a long-hold investment strategy, not day trading.” The goal of the club would be to educate students who are interested while analyzing and managing their real-world investments once a week. However, the investment club would only be a short term solution. Mr. Furlong said, “Depending on how the schedule changes, we would see if there is a way to make it a class, or a club that will eventually migrate into a class.
Mr. Furlong added, “It [the class] would be the same kind of thing, but it would bring in more of the business and accounting like the course that I taught at Gilman a few years ago. I taught a class for three years and I taught it like a college-level course for seniors.” The class would be the ideal situation for a student-run portfolio; most students attending colleges, universities, and business schools that have student-run portfolios also take classes in business, economics, and/or finance.
According to Mr. Sean Furlong, the idea of a student-run investment portfolio has already been brought to Gilman’s attention. Carter Spahn, a Gilman freshman, brought this idea to Gilman at the beginning of the year, which prompted Gilman to respond by asking him to conduct research about schools that have already done this. Carter researched and spoke to schools like Yale University and Wharton School of Business. Specifically, Carter has researched particular facets of how the student-run portions work, such as money management, obligations, structure, and alumni involvement. Carter is seeking to build a club similar to those of Wharton and Yale with special alumni speakers. The Business Club, led by senior Ian Chalk, has already done this in addition to the many real-world trips and guest panels. Although the curriculum alongside an investment portfolio would be an ideal situation for learning and hands-on experience, Carter said, “I want this to remain a club for one reason: if it were a class, then students willing and interested to learn and be a part of this would be restricted due to the natures of their schedules and course loads.” However, Mr. Furlong envisions that when the Gilman Upper School schedule is modified in a few years, this type of class would fit really well for any age group of students interested.
Time and time again, a large number of Gilman students have continued to show their interest in business and its different areas such as investing, accounting, and starting new companies. Whether it be through the Gilman Startup Experience seminar or through the Business Club’s opportunities to learn more through trips and alumni, Gilman students are eager to learn more about business. The most popular majors at top schools, especially the Ivy League, are almost always business, economics, or finance. The surge of interest among students brings new exciting possibilities for Gilman. The first is a potential donor willing to initially grant money to students in a capacity where boys are learning alongside investing. Mr. Furlong said, “We will be meeting with the donor in March and Carter has prepared his proposal for his club.” Another is the potential class that Mr. Furlong hopes to teach to initiate this student-run investment portfolio. Clearly, the uptick in business and finance interests among students as well as the faculty and alumni involvement provides a strong base for future courses and real-world opportunities for learning about investing and finance.