The winners of this year’s Student Investor Challenge – Benoit’s Barmy Army from Tadcaster Grammar School – tell us about their experiences of taking part in this year’s competition and why they would recommend it to other students interested in learning more about finance.
Now that the dust has settled, what was your immediate reaction when you heard your team being named winner?
Our immediate reaction to winning was; wow! We couldn’t believe it as when we first started the competition it seemed like such a long way off. We didn’t even think about winning until we got through to the final and even on the day we only discussed it jokingly on the train. We were utterly speechless when we were announced as winners and didn’t know whether to maintain our ‘professional’ appearance or whether to start jumping around and celebrating. We opted for the more reserved approach but inside we were all going mad!
How was your preparation running up to the final? How did you prepare?
When we first got together to start creating the presentation for the scenario we’d be given about 4 weeks before the final. We spent 5 hours just sitting and presenting to each other the research we had done into various areas with regards to personal investment. We came away from that not even close to even creating the presentation – we just had lots of scribbles on paper and hundreds of different options to pursue. Over the next 2 weeks we met up at least twice a week for roughly 5 hours at a time just to start to narrow down what we would squeeze into the 8 minute presentation slot. It was only about 10 days before the actual final that we started creating our presentation document and learning what we were going to say. Thankfully after a mammoth effort from us all over a weekend we had created what we thought was an excellent presentation that squeezed into 7 minutes and 50 seconds. From then to the final we met up nearly every day to practice presenting it and tweaking things so that it went as well as possible.
Apart from the presentation, we obviously all had our A levels to revise for which meant that we were often squeezing our presentation into our revision breaks. Once we had finished doing that we used our revision breaks to research into what was going on in the economy and making sure that we were prepared for any questions that the judges would ask us. That seemed to come across well in the final when we were able to answer questions in both the morning and the afternoon which showed that we meant business and were serious about the challenge!
Did it feel like you had a shot? Did everything go to plan on the day?
When the presentation was finished and sent off and we had all learnt our parts of the presentation, we did believe that if the morning went well, we had a good shot at coming in the top 3 because we were all really pleased with how the presentation had come together. On the day we spent all of the lunch break rehearsing in the stairwell and trying to calm our nerves and get out any jitters that we had. This worked well as most of the other teams were all in the same room and you could feel the tension as soon as you walked in there. We were the first group to present which we were really pleased about as it meant that we could get it over and done with and could then enjoy the rest of the presentations without having to worry about how ours would go. As it turned out we didn’t make any mistakes during our presentation and we all performed under pressure – it was one of the best presentations we had done!
What did you find the most difficult section of the day?
The most difficult section of the day for us was definitely the presentation. We had spent hour of hard work on creating it and we knew that we could present it well but we were quite nervous and standing up in front of the judges and the audience was hard, especially when you know that a trip to New York is at stake. The trading challenge in the morning was completely different to what we expected and the scenarios were tough, but we made a very healthy profit on the first scenario which took the pressure off us a little bit and allowed us to take a more conservative approach during the next rounds. This would have been the hardest section of the day if we had made a loss in the first round and were having to take even greater risks to try and break even in the 2nd and 3rd rounds.
How has the school reacted to your victory?
The Monday after we had won the challenge we walked into school like celebrities! Everyone was congratulating us, asking how we had done it and when we were going to New York. Some of the teachers joked that they would happily give us some of their money to invest as long as we could return them 20% in 3 month period like we had done in the first round of the challenge. Many of our friends were also really interested in how we had won and were quite jealous that we will be going to New York. Our economics teachers were obviously very proud of us and are creating a big wall display with the huge boarding pass in as well as our picture and a bit of detail about the challenge. Our Head Teacher also has congratulated us personally and is now looking forward to hearing about our time in New York.
Would you recommend the competition to others after the whole experience?
We would definitely recommend the competition to any team thinking about entering. We entered because we wanted to see how we would do if we had £100,000 of our own money to invest and whether we would enjoy trading. The challenge is risk-free in that it doesn’t cost the teams anything so if they make a loss then they won’t lose sleep over it. Also for the teams that make it to the final it is an absolutely amazing experience spending the day in London going head to head with the other finalists and speaking to real life successful traders and businessmen – as well as being treated like royalty throughout!
What was the most valuable lesson you learnt from competing in this year’s competition?
The most valuable lesson that we learnt whilst competing in the challenge was the importance of setting targets. When you are trading it is very tempting to keep holding on whilst the value of the share is going up, but inevitably it comes tumbling back down and you end up wishing that you had sold for a profit. Instead, set a price that you will sell at when you first invest in the share and, unless any new information about the company or market comes into existence, sell when it reaches that price – that way you will be happy that you have minimized your losses or returned a healthy profit.
If you could sum up the experience in one sentence, what would it be?
If we could sum up the experience in 1 sentence, it would be; “Fun, challenging and very rewarding.” Not just in terms of the prize but also the communication and teamwork skills that you gain and the whole experience from making the first trade in the practice round to (in one team’s case) winning after a day of challenges in London!
Tadcaster’s case study scenario
Akachi, aged 28, is a graduate who works as an engineer. He has only been in the job four years, but is already on a salary of over £40,000.
Akachi is reasonably good at managing his money, and has managed to save £10,000. He has never bought any unit trusts or similar investments as he has always been rather nervous about the idea of such investments.
He has recently inherited £50,000 from an uncle and thinks that now might be a good time to invest his savings with the inheritance. He is not sure whether to contribute on a monthly basis or to pay in larger amounts at various times.
He read an article in a newspaper about the importance of ‘diversifying your portfolio’ and he would like do this even though he is not sure what his options are. Much of Akachi’s work is related to mining abroad and he, therefore, is very interested in the idea of investing in products that are linked to natural resources.
- Benoit’s Barmy Army are: Alex Robinson (18), James Bradshaw (18), James Tucker (17), Harry Bean (17)
Tadcaster Grammar School is an 11-18 mixed comprehensive school based in North Yorkshire with approximately 1600 students.