A team of Year 12 students, aged 16 and 17, from St Cyres School in Penarth has won the Shares4Schools competition, outperforming the FTSE 100 share index by 34.2% to take the national title.
This result puts them on a par with some of the best fund managers in the business, as many investment professionals fail to beat the market on an annual basis. Of those that do, few manage to outperform the FTSE 100 by such a margin.
The Shares4Schools investment contest, run by retail stock broker The Share Centre, involves teams of young people actively investing sums of £1,500, which they’re encouraged to raise through sponsorships from local businesses.
The objective of the competition is to make the maximum profit possible on this initial investment between the period October to June. This year’s winners won the competition by making just £12.47 more than their rivals – but achieved a very impressive return of 39.9% on their starting stake.
Commenting on their success, the winning team said: ‘We are delighted to win the competition. We have really enjoyed finding out about how the stock market works and it has opened our eyes to how much a share price can change in such a short period of time.’
Gavin Oldham, chief executive of The Share Centre, commented: ‘It’s been a challenging year to produce good results, with the FTSE100 rising just 5.1% since the competition started. With just 17 schools making a net gain over the period, this has been a real tussle for first place with St Cyres winning by a whisker.’
Mr Oldham has also argued that young people should receive better financial education in schools, saying: ‘The financial services industry needs more confident and knowledgeable consumers of its services so it is therefore in their interest to encourage better financial capability, especially of young people.’
If the success of the St Cyres school team has inspired you to start investing, make sure you think carefully before parting with your cash. ‘The first rule of investing is to understand that the value of your investments can go down as well as up,’ says Which? Money expert Gareth Shaw. ‘Several schools in the Shares4Schools competition, for instance, actually lost part of their £1,500 stakes – and the same could happen to you if you put your money into shares that perform badly.
‘Nevertheless, investing can be a great way to build up your savings. Knowledge is power, so they key is to arm yourself with information and advice before you start.
‘Our Beginner’s guide to investment and our guides to Different types of investment and Understanding investment risk are good places to get tips. You should also consider consulting an independent financial adviser before you start investing.’
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