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Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Highlands Student Starts Investment Club to Explore Financial Literacy

The Highlands Investment Club meets monthly at Launch at 20 Grand. The student club covers all topics of investment and finance for interested Highlands High students.

by Robin Gee

For many young people — and indeed, older people as well — the world of personal finance and investment can be confusing and intimidating. Even today many high school age students lack basic knowledge about money issues in general.

At Highlands High School, students are encouraged to take the financial literacy course that is available, but for those who want to go deeper into the topic and explore the world of personal finance and investing, there is a new opportunity through an afterschool club started by a student at the school.

The Highlands Investment Club started last month and meets monthly. Close to 50 students signed up for the club, and between 35 and 40 attended the first meeting. The second meeting is this week on Thursday, November 12, at Launch, an education resource center for the school located at 20 Grand in Fort Thomas.

Highlands Investment Club becomes a reality

Charlie Gorman, a junior at Highlands, developed an interest in investing after reading the book Rich Dad Poor Dad over the summer with his father, local real estate investor Dan Gorman.

"It inspired me to think more about investing. I opened my own stock account with my own money and started researching the stock market. This book study also made me think about how there are not many classes that teach us about financial literacy. School teaches you how to make money but not what to do with it once you make it. I got the idea to start a stock market club at Highlands," he explained.

One of Gorman’s first steps was to talk to his longtime neighbor Bryan Shick, senior vice president of wealth management at UBS.

"In talking to him, I developed the idea to start an investment club (not just a stock market club). He helped me understand that it's important to learn about a lot of different kinds of investments, not just stocks. I developed the idea of the club to meet once a month, with each month focusing on a different type of investing, including stocks, bonds, cryptocurrency, gold, silver, real estate, credit — with an emphasis on financial literacy."

The importance of financial literacy

Gorman took his idea to Superintendent Dr. Karen Cheser, and she in turn reached out to the school’s business and financial literacy teachers Elise Carter and Jaime Richey who agreed to sponsor the club.

Carter said there is a great interest and need for financial literacy classes. "Jaime and I are always told when they interview graduates five to six years out, they wish Highlands would offer financial literacy. We always come back with we do! ... I think this is one of the MOST important topics offered at Highlands. Knowing chemistry is great, but does it help you keep the lights on or balance your checkbook? What we teach cannot get any closer to real-world application. If you have a high school senior, they should be enrolled in this class and YES! They can earn college credit, too."

She said Highlands has one course devoted entirely to financial literacy, and she feels strongly that all students would benefit from the class and increasing their financial knowledge.

"It is amazing the amount of students that do not know how a debit/credit card really works or can truly explain the differentiation between the two," she said. "What goes into getting a credit card? Why it is important for establishing credit? How to use it responsibly? Insurance, health/auto/life. The impact interest rates have on your monthly payments and length of loan. The concept of house poor is always a good discussion."

The stock market challenge

Highlands junior Charlie Gorman (r) explains the plans for the investment club. Bryan Shick (l), senior vice president of wealth management at UBS, was the club's first speaker.

Gorman had developed a preliminary list of guest speakers drawn from throughout the region. Shick agreed to be the first speaker for the club, and Gorman said a partnership with the UC Lindner School of Business is also in the works.  

Members of the club who are interested can also join in on a fun project Gorman has created. "There will be a stock market challenge where each kid can open up a simulated account with $100,000 and is able to real-time trade in the stock market. The winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship," he said.

Shick said he is interested to see what choices the students make for their stock market challenge, yet he said he wanted to emphasize with the students that, in real life "investment is a marathon, not a sprint."

While he said it is a great idea to expose students to the stock market and the concepts behind it, he stressed the need for understanding a wide variety of investment options and a range of financial planning topics.

Jumping into the stock market as a game is exciting, he said, but in financial planning, excitement is not necessarily a good thing. Excitement is an emotional response, and investment for one’s future needs to be more measured, calmer and involves long-term planning and research.

"I expect the winner of this game will be the one who takes the most risks and has a lot of luck, but investing actually is a multi-year timeframe and involves research and choosing things like quality and diversification," Shick said.

"I do think exposure to these concepts is great, the sooner the better, and hopefully they will begin thinking about these things."

Shick also emphasized to the students that being able to invest at all is a privilege. I told them "Maybe only half of Americans invest in some form or fashion, but many cannot afford it. It’s what you do if you have extra money, and having extra money is a privilege."

He said delayed gratification may be a hard concept for most teens. It’s hard for anyone, but taking the time and effort is what makes a successful investor.

Exploring financial careers

What about financial investing advisor as a career choice? Shick said he was always good at math, but didn’t make a decision to go into the field until college when he took a personal finance course and became hooked. He will celebrate 20 years in the business this month.

For him, it’s all about helping people prepare for their retirement and other important aspects of their lives. "Helping people, there is great joy in that endeavor. In my job I talk to people about very personal stuff, their finances. It is both humbling and rewarding to do this important work."

The investment club provides a great opportunity for students to learn about careers in finance. Shick has a daughter who is also a junior at Highlands. "I was very pleased that the club appeared to have as many young women involved as young men. I’ve been in financial services for 20 years, and it is still a male-dominated field. Girls can thrive in this industry.”

Education about finance careers is important, he said, but even those not interested in the field should have a basic understanding. Shick and Carter both agreed that student clubs give students a unique opportunity to learn and practice real-world applications.

Gorman is excited about the future of the club and the opportunity to put into practice some of the concepts he’s learned. Again, the meeting of the Highlands Investment Club is Thursday, November 12, at Launch, 20 Grand, from 3:45 to 4:45 p.m. Tyler Little from Edward Jones will be the guest speaker.


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