A contest to nurture the next generation of female investment experts has ignited fierce competition amongst Scots schoolgirls.
The Growing Future Assets Investment Competition, which aims to introduce senior girls to the world of investment and its range of careers, has seen entries rocket by 300% this year.
The soaring popularity of the contest is down to the enthusiasm of the teenagers, willingness of teachers to embrace extra-curricular activities and outstanding support from investment management professionals who are helping to mentor the future stars of the industry.
Last year the contest attracted 17 teams. This year over 70 teams from 48 schools all over Scotland are vying to spot the next big investment opportunity.
Financial educators Future Asset are challenging a total of 320 girls, divided into teams of 13-18-year-olds, to research, analyse and pitch a company they think will be a great long-term investment.
They are paired with a mentor from an investment company to provide advice, inspiration and career insights and have the chance to attend online masterclasses as they develop an understanding that good investing focuses on a company’s long-term prospects, profits and sustainability. This year more than 80 investment mentors from 28 firms, including First Sentier, Baillie Gifford, BlackRock and Rathbone Investment Management, have stepped up to counsel the youngsters.
Ashley-Jane Kyle, CFA, Investment Analyst at Walter Scott & Partners Limited and Investment Mentor for the competition says: “Not only have I thoroughly enjoyed being an Investment Mentor as part of the competition, but I have also been so impressed with the students enthusiasm and effort put in to their investment reports and pitches. I think this is a great way to break the barrier that often puts girls off from considering investment management as a career as it allows them to experience in quite a real way what it’s like to research and invest in businesses. It also gives them an opportunity to develop valuable skills which they will be able to use throughout their careers.”
Experts from journalism and business are also advising the teenagers: Executive and Voice Coach Susan Room is helping to boost their skills and confidence with online masterclasses in Mindset, Body Language, Speech and Voice, while author, broadcaster and financial journalist Iona Bain, who launched the contest in September, is on hand to explain how they can invest their way to a better future.
Now in its second year, the competition is divided into a senior contest for years S5 and S6 and a junior challenge for S3 and S4, the teams of three to six girls will present their case in a research report and three-minute elevator pitch by November 30. The top teams will then deliver an extended pitch to judges at the final in March next year.
At stake is: £1000 for the winning senior school and £200-worth of vouchers of the students’ choice for each team member; £800 for the best junior school and £150-worth of vouchers each. Senior and junior runners-up receive £500 and £100 of vouchers and £400 and £75 of vouchers, respectively.
Layla Saseh, Teacher at Calderside Academy, adds: ”Before becoming a teacher, I studied Economics and considered a career in Finance. That, combined with my passion for equality, made the Growing Future Assets Investment Competition a really appealing initiative for our pupils. I was blown away by the interest we had from our senior girls at Calderside Academy. The girls’ enthusiasm and drive for self-development is inspiring and makes my job all the more rewarding. The Future Asset team have resources fit for purpose and a good supportive team in Helen and Claire. The mentors that we have been assigned are friendly, professional and flexible – helping to put our teams at ease.
“Our pupils benefit in many ways. Teamworking and communication skills are developed through online ‘Masterclasses’. Due to the nature of the competition, they are also learning the importance of resilience and hard work. Not only that, as the girls are aware that the competition is to promote gender equality, this will have a lasting impact in their own career management and possibly even the careers of other young women in the future.
“Skayne Dodds, our Head Teacher at Calderside Academy, commended the work of staff involved in the Future Asset programme and is delighted to see the positive benefits that this is providing to pupils at Calderside Academy.”
Helen Bradley, Future Asset Programme Manager, says: “We are overwhelmed by the enthusiasm shown by the schools, the teachers and all the investment experts who have come forward to mentor the teams.
“We weren’t sure what the response would be from schools then at the beginning of September, when the competition launched, we just watched in amazement at the huge influx of registrations. We put out a call for additional mentors and that was answered enthusiastically by experts already in the industry.
“We are also hugely impressed by the commitment shown by teachers who have really responded to this extra-curricular opportunity for their students – especially when they have already faced such a difficult period and increase in their own workload over the last 18 months.”