What is it?
The Investment Course for High School Students (Lukiolaisten sijoittajakoulu) is turnkey course that encourages students to start saving and investing in the stock market. It is offered free of charge to be used by teachers in all Finnish high schools. It consists of a precisely organised lesson plan, ready-to-use study materials (videos, articles and exercises), a network of partners (experts, financial institutions, companies, organisations and interest groups) and a social platform, where students can interact and get advice from experts.
Unlike typical high school courses that last only for two months, the Investment Course goes on for the whole duration of high school. This way the participating students get 2.5 years of concrete experience - under the guidance of a well-informed teacher - in investing when they graduate. The longer time period allows the students to acquire a better understanding of the market. This is crucial since in the short term the stock market is often highly volatile. However, in the long run stocks are commonly recognised as a sound and profitable investment.
The course consists of monthly meetings with a teacher. In each meeting a topic related to investing is discussed with the students. In the first two meetings we discuss investing as a life style, the effect of compound interest on long term investing, the basic properties of a stock as an investment tool and hear about the personal experience of some Finnish investors. In addition, with the help of the teacher, the students will create individual investment plans that are suited to their personal income levels.
Later on, more detailed subjects are covered such as:
- risk and portfolio management,
- analysis of individual companies (p/e ratios, p/b etc.)
- ethically and socially sustainable investment,
- student loans,
- economic cycles and so on.
For each meeting there will be a video available, where an expert explains the basics of the concept at hand. In addition, students are actively encouraged to share their personal experiences in investing. Visits to local financial institutions and publicly traded companies are also organised.
Why do we do it?
In recent years young adults have been building up more debt. The increased availability of consumer credit, often with high interest rates, has led to a multitude of financial problems with a potentially high human cost.
In order to counter this worrying trend, there is a great need to improve the financial literacy skills of teenagers, preferably before they reach the age of 18 and are eligible for credit. The most important skill in this regard is budgeting. By creating and following a personal spending plan, young adults empower themselves to save income and make rational decisions about their daily consumption.
While budgeting is important, it is hardly something that gets teenagers excited. After all, saving money is all about self-control, a skill that often develops in later years. This is where the Investment Course steps in. By offering high school students the opportunity and the guidance to invest in the stock market, we give them an incentive to start saving and, at the same time, take control of their personal finances.
In addition to advancing responsible financial decision making, we also want to strive for greater equality. Although in the short term investing in stocks can be risky, in the long run they have been remarkably profitable. Therefore, it is a shame that often only the richest households tend to invest in stocks, while the poorest households spend proportionally more in activities like gambling. This pattern of behaviour increases the inequality of wealth.
By spreading information of the possibilities offered in the stock market, we want to reach also those teenagers who are not encouraged to pursue these opportunities by their family background. There is a common misperception that investing in stocks is only for the rich. In reality even small savings, for example 15 euros per month, are sufficient to be invested in stock funds and make a significant difference in the students’ lives.