Finance students at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) are putting their excellent theoretical investment knowledge to practical use and learning by doing, thanks to the launch of the Young Investor Programme on Friday 5 May 2017.
“This programme truly is a useful means of obtaining a practical understanding of the investments industry and an opportunity for students to see where they fit in,” says Professor Ricardo Peters, Director of UWC’s School of Business and Finance (SBF).
“The challenge has never been a matter of not knowing how to crunch the numbers to pass a test or exam, but rather to build on the softer skills so that our students can have the right level of self confidence so as to prepare well for interviews and know how to conduct themselves in the workplace.”
The YIP aims to help students demonstrate that passion - and also bridge the gap between the theoretical knowledge obtained at university and the practical aspect required by the investment industry.
So far six groups consisting of five members each have been formed - all either in their second or third year of finance and investment studies. For the rest of the year they will be participating in a number of workshops, interacting with industry professionals, and performing practical investment exercises, picking companies to invest in, reviewing financial headlines and conducting company analyses and virtual trading, recommending whether to buy, sell or hold to academia and sponsor assessing groups.
“We want to create activities aimed at enhancing the practical skills of the members within the programme,” Peters explains. “We would like to see students equipped, able to make informed financial decisions both personally and professionally.”
Students Doing It For Themselves: How the Young Investor Programme Works
When a group of UWC BCom Honours Finance students realised they lacked the kind of practical knowledge they would need out there in the finance and investment industry, they approached the SBF with a solution in July last year.
Since then, the SBF set out to secure sponsorship to tackle this challenge. SBF senior lecturer Dr Warren Brown approached Coronation, and they agreed to sponsor R62 500 towards the Young Investor Programme initiative - and changed the course of several students’ lives.
Keagan Martin from Ennerdale Johannesburg was one of the students who initiated the programme. A UWC BCom Finance Honours 2016 graduate and a member of the Golden Key International Honours society, he currently works as a Financial Reporting Accountant at State Street SA.“In our Honours year, we noticed a key trend after going for our individual interviews throughout the year,” he says. “We discovered that our level of ‘real-world’ or ‘industry knowledge’ was not quite as advanced as we wanted - and we came up with the idea of the programme to help. Being part of this exciting initiative helped me develop a sense of responsibility and understanding: I think the greatest tool students will take away from the Young Investors programme is confidence.”
The current YIP committee has dedicated themselves to growing the initiative, and sharing its benefits with other dedicated students.
“As a student, having fantastic results alone is not enough,” says Brackenfell-based Finance Honours student Kgomotso Makena, who was a YIP member in 2016 and has been elected YIP Treasurer for 2017. “If your ambition is to be a trader or an analyst within the industry, it is essential to be doing things right now that will show that you have an interest in what a trader or an analyst actually does. And as a member of the Young Investors Programme, you will receive the guidance needed to become a successful professional within the investments industry.”
“The programme has opened my mind so much in terms of the finance industry,” says final-year Finance student - and YIP 2017 Secretary - Sinalo Mhlauli from Gugulethu. “Our initial meet-ups have already helped shape my view of how the industry actually operates. I appreciate this opportunity and wonderful initiative. Where else would I get the opportunity to engage with professionals in the finance industry? I’m convinced YIP students will be coming out stronger than ever!”
YIP Student Liaison Yamkela Mdletye, who hails from the Free State, is a final year student in BCom General, majoring in Investment and Finance and Information Systems.
“I am truly grateful to be part of this,” she says. “I look forward to developing soft skills through workshops and expanding my passion for investment and finance, along with the other benefits of being in YIP. To me, the programme means commitment and dedication with the hope of making history by making YIP even better.”
The ultimate objective of the Young Investor Programme is to engage with professionals in the finance and investments industry in a meaningful way.
“Finance is a competitive industry, and YIP is the answer for eager young students who want to improve their chances at success,” says Prof Peters. “Through this type of exposure, we’d like to see students equipped, able to make informed financial decisions both personally and professionally and understand the intricacies of the industry - and secure their futures.”