Published on Brock University (http://www.brocku.ca)
The St. Catharines Standard
Fri Feb 5 2010
Byline: RAHUL GUPTA, SPECIAL TO THE STANDARD;
A Brock University student business club is banking on a big return for charity through a virtual stock-market challenge.
The Brock Finance and Investment Group is taking registrations for an online trading competition to benefit needy children in the area. The first annual Investment Challenge for Charity will allow contestants to buy and sell stocks based on real-time values.
For $20, contestants get to invest $100,000 of virtual money in an investment portfolio made up of shares from companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and other North American stock exchanges. They'll be able to practise online trading, research stocks and get investment tips via Stock-Trak, a market simulation program used by business schools across the world.
At the end of the seven-week competition, the winner gets a cash prize up to $500 and the title of top virtual investor. Sixty per cent of collected money goes to the Brock Finance and Investment Group Children's Fund to help pay for sports, recreation and cultural programs for needy children in the area.
"We're tying to make this as large and successful as possible," club co-president Marco Burnetti said.
In addition to helping disadvantaged kids, Burnetti, 24, thinks the contest can educate contestants about online trading so that they don't get wiped out in the real world by a bad trade.
"If you go in blind, there's a good chance you'll get burned," said Burnetti, who is in his fifth year of study in Brock's business program. "We want to teach people how to invest without actually risking their money."
Burnetti said he and copresident Ryan Brunet wanted to establish a club tradition that would have a philanthropic benefit to the community.
"I came up with the idea of doing an investment challenge and Ryan suggested we do this for charity," Burnetti said. "The two ideas just clicked. It was beautiful."
The duo approached faculty adviser Don Cyr, who arranged a meeting with Liz Palmieri, executive director for the Niagara Community Foundation.
"Don brought them into our office, and they were very interested in supporting children," Palmieri recalled. "We worked with them in setting up the fund."
Palmieri said she forwarded information about the challenge to her list of contacts and drew immediate interest from local financial professionals.
"We have very good relationships with all the investment firms in Niagara,"
Burnetti said he'd like to raise additional funds through corporate sponsorships as well as pledge forms to help contestants raise money for the fund on their own. He said the contestant with the most pledges will receive a special prize.
"It's more incentive for people to go out and raise money," he said.
Burnetti said he and Brunet are aiming for 500 people to sign up for the challenge. Since registration began in mid-January, 30 people have signed up via the group's website.
"We've already got entrants from Montreal and the U.K.," Burnetti said.
"There is no limit to who can register."
The contest runs from March 1 until April 16.
To register for the Brock Finance and Investment Group's Investment Challenge, go to www.brockinvestmentchallenge.com