“It seems like the wild west of clubs,” said economics teacher Chris Saunders when he learned that four finance clubs are active in the market this year. Only one, the Investment Club, existed last year.
M-A lacks any business-focused curriculum in its course catalog, nor does it incorporate activities like DECA, an extracurricular for students interested in business, that involve youth in entrepreneurship and financial literacy. This absence coupled with growing affinities for such topics may serve as an explanation for the sudden influx in finance clubs.
Each finance club brings something different to the table. The Investment Club and Financial Education Club center on teaching financial skills that are useful to high schoolers. Meanwhile, as their name suggests, the Capital Impact Investment Club focuses on impact investment, primarily aimed at producing societal benefit, and the Financial Literacy Freedom Club takes an approach more applicable on Wall Street.
“Right now, we’re talking about technical analysis, which is using moving averages to find different strategies as indication of when to enter or exit the market,” said senior Stephen Eline, the Financial Literacy Freedom Club’s president. Eline’s club has an Instagram account that posts informative slides about the stock market. They meet on Mondays in G-19 during lunch. “I experimented for about a year and a half with money from my job and wanted to teach others how to do the same,” Eline said.
Similarly, the Financial Education Club’s president, junior Spencer Cadigan, explained how his curiosity in the stock market began. “My interest really started back in eighth grade. I got a job and started making money, and then I realized I needed to figure out what to do with it,” he said. “I bought a couple of books and interned at a financial advising firm, and I’ve taken some college courses on business and finance.”
Cadigan’s journey in finance inspired him to share his knowledge with others. He explained, “We want to help other students become a little bit more financially literate. We plan to teach several ways to invest money and in student assets.” His club meets on Tuesdays at lunch in D-21.
Senior Jude Easom, the vice president of the Investment Club, has his club participate in the Ithaca Investment Competition, where each team invests a hypothetical $1,000,000. The club placed 20th out of over 200 contestants last year. However, he said, “We want to do better than that this year.”
Easom’s club addresses the limits of youth activity in the stock market. For example, people under 18 need their guardians to approve registration for stock-trading platforms like E-Trade. “We have covered stock price charts, how current events affect stocks and how members can set up their own brokerage accounts,” said Easom. “We base the topics we teach on input from our members, so the more we have, the wider array of ideas we can cover.”
Easom shared, “Outside of school, I have my own stock portfolios and run my own business. I wanted to teach others about what I’ve accomplished and delve deeper into the field of finance.”
Junior Daniel Farrell, the president of the Capital Impact Investing Club, said, “I started the club to give students the opportunity to learn about finance through an ethical, sustainable investing lens. Impact investing is a growing field, and this club introduces students to it.”
Their current focus is on the Wharton Global High School Investment Competition. Junior Tula Basta, the club’s vice president, explained how the competition works: “Teams invest a theoretical $100,000 over the course of 90 days. Wharton tracks the market to see if you gain or lose money as the stocks move, and the competition’s goal is to out-invest everybody else. It’s a good way to open our members’ eyes to what investing holds.” The club meets on Wednesdays at lunch in C-2.
While educating students on finance can be useful, investing comes with serious risks. “I’d be wary of offering any sort of actual advice to people and suggesting anything particular with real dollars. The predictive power of anybody should be very humble,” said Saunders. Financial Literacy Freedom’s Instagram bio includes a disclaimer that reads, “Invest/trade at your own risk!”
Saunders also said, “The infatuation and obsession with making money and trading stocks is a bit inflated. They’re very ‘alpha-male,’ egocentric cultures.” These attitudes have contributed to an often-overlooked gender disparities within the finance industry, discouraging women from participating, even at the high-school level.
While women occupy 46% of jobs in finance, they are in a mere 15% of executive roles. The finance clubs at M-A are no exception—seven out of the eight presidents and vice-presidents are male, as well as a vast majority of members.
“I really wanted to do my part to get women’s voices out there and to have an impact within our club and the investing world,” Basta said. “I’ve had a lot of times where I’ve talked to people and they’re like, ‘You’re running an investing club?’” Non-male participation is around 40% in Basta’s club and remains low or even absent in all other clubs.
Easom said, “While we still have work to do to further address the gender disparity in our own club, there has been improvement from last year.”
M-A’s finance clubs are plentiful and offer lots of useful knowledge about the stock market and other aspects of the financial world. While the clubs currently function separately, some are optimistic towards a collaborative future together. Easom said, “It would be interesting to harness our combined knowledge and host one meeting with multiple other clubs.”