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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Playing the market in school

The Institute of Financial Services (ifs) has acquired ProShare UK Ltd, a company that specialises in share market education. The new entity is to be known as ifsProShare and its activities will be integrated into the ifs faculty structure. A new faculty will be created to oversee non-school activities, employee share ownership, and private investor services, and the plan is to widen the corporate involvement in these activities. The schools games and educational programmes will be merged into the ifs current ‘14-19 Education Faculty’.

The ifs is the official brand of the Chartered Institute of Bankers (CIB). Since it pioneered the linking of a professional qualification with a university degree some ten years ago, the ifs has continued to diversify its remit. It now offers structured education programmes and bespoke learning solutions right across the sector and at all different levels of expertise and specialisation.

ProShare’s activities fit these developments perfectly. Created 12 years ago with funding from the Treasury, the DTI, and the London Stock Exchange plus many of the country’s leading companies, ProShare’s raison d’être was to educate the public at large, both individual and corporate, about equity markets, share ownership, and how this could link into corporate reward and financial participation programmes.

ProShare also runs an extensive school programme with education packs and four games, the main one being the key investment game, the ProShare Student Investor Portfolio Challenge. Currently there are 30,000 school students in nearly 900 schools pitting their skill and judgement in the market using live real data provided by Bloomberg to find out who can build the most impressive portfolio. They all play to get into the final, which is then fought by a small number of teams with the prize of a trip to New York for the winners.

The other popular competitions for schools include the Young ProShare Forecast Challenge, ProShare’s Online Trader of the Year, and the ProShare Forecast Challenge. Another important activity that will mesh well with the ifs school education agenda is ProShare’s Your Money – Be Wise, a flexible and extensive set of materials that helps teachers cover many of the key subjects related to money management, including investment and financial planning. These materials are currently being used in some 3,000 schools in the 14–16 age range. In time it is the ifs intention to link these materials to its qualifications at this level.