The two first-time investors, Michael Chen and Yunkai Shi, were part of a five-person team participating in the prestigious competition run by the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Featuring 6,981 students from 64 countries, the competition spanned three months.
“I was pleasantly surprised by the result,” Michael says about their impressive finish.
Curiosity about investing led both students to take a five-session introductory course about the topic and to register in the Wharton competition. They were matched with three students from schools elsewhere in Canada and given a teacher as an adviser.
Each team had the same challenge: to invest $100,000 for an environmentally conscious individual who was interested in raising funds to open a yoga studio. Team members were required to build a portfolio that reflected values related to sustainability, including stocks from five different sectors, aiming for a return of 20 per cent. Choosing the stocks required research; Yunkai recalls seeking companies that produced holistic medicines in keeping with their client’s ideals.
The teammates met in group chats to review their strategy and weekly with their adviser. Since day trading was part of their approach to raise funds to purchase more valuable stocks, they kept an eye on the stock market.
“We’d discuss plans, such as whether to cut our losses on a stock whose value wasn’t increasing or keep investing in it,” Yunkai says.
An online system was used to make their investments and gauge where they stood in relation to their competitors in terms of financial success throughout the competition.
The team also wrote two reports. In the midterm report, they were required to explain their investment strategy and discuss what they’d surmised about their client’s financial goals. The final report included details about each investment in the portfolio, the team’s overall strategy and how it was unique.
Yunkai, Michael and their teammates finished the competition with a 15 per cent return on their investments.
“Since it was the beginning of the recession, our adviser told us that she was impressed we’d made any money at all,” Michael says.
Although investing isn’t a passion for either student, they were intrigued by and happy with the experience.
“I hadn’t participated in these types of challenges before,” Michael says. “Investing is a useful skill to have and I thought that I might as well expand my knowledge and do something different with a friend.”
Given their success, will they return to the competition?
“It’s up for debate,” Yunkai says. “I might consider being part of a UCC team. It’s more fun to do it with people you know, matching schedules and talking together.”