Despite the credit crunch, sixth formers at Sunningdale Preparatory School, near Ascot, Berkshire, have entered funds into a virtual trading competition... and their early efforts are beating the market. Far from being discouraged by the doom and gloom reported on a daily basis, their interest has been ignited.
William Brooks, Deputy Headmaster, is impressed. "The boys are enthused; they have opened accounts and are trading against each other and the staff. I recently showed some prospective parents around and they could not believe their eyes... two boys discussing what limit to place on their newly acquired Allied Irish stock."
In the past, schools would introduce pupils to share dealing by referring to price lists in the daily newspapers, and tallying results by hand. But the internet has brought realistic trading simulations that bring real time reporting, automated paper trails and full historical records, all at the click of a button.
Brooks continued, "We looked at several alternatives but chose Stockopedia as it enables us to research, discuss and trade all from the same website. Using the site allows the boys to better understand market timing without risking real money, while the online community has helped to generate trading ideas."
Before the markets resumed their recent plunge to new lows, the Sunningdale sixth formers traded a rally in banking stocks and managed to exit profitably. Overall, the Sunningdale funds have outperformed the FTSE benchmark by 8.1% over the last month. At the end of March, the 2009 Stockopedia Challenge officially launches and both the boys and the staff are well placed for the prizes on offer, including flights to visit Wall Street.
Edward Croft, Managing Director of Stockopedia, is pleasantly surprised by the results. "Sunningdale's performance to date has been impressive and one of their boys, Archie Bannister, 13, has been this week's top performer. While the FTSE 100 has dropped 15% recently, his fund has made positive gains - making up 10% in the last week alone... it's a very promising start." Croft is pleased that young people are using the site to learn to become more financially autonomous. "Recent scandals, like the Madoff affair, have shown that blindly trusting market professionals can be extremely dangerous - so it's reassuring to see schools encourage independent thinking and analysis in this area at such an early age".
The Headmaster, Tom Dawson, is "delighted that the boys are filling in some of their free time in this way. My only concern is that they are proving far better investors than I am!"