Nicolas Marchionda’s 2nd Place Essay Wins SIFMA Foundation’s
Spring 2021 National InvestWrite® Competition
New York, NY, August 9, 2021 – We could all learn something from 14-year-old Nicolas Marchionda. The extraordinary 8th-grader from Ogdensburg, New Jersey has charted his life goals and developed an investment strategy to fund them. Moreover, Marchionda developed his plan in the months that a pandemic created unprecedented challenges for his family and school life. For his brilliance and hard work, Marchionda cinched an exhilarating win in the SIFMA Foundation’s Spring 2021 InvestWrite competition.
Beating out thousands of other students around the country competing in the middle school division, Marchionda, who attends Ogdensburg Borough Public School, researched and composed an impressive short-term and long-term financial plan and now he is being recognized nationally.
SIFMA Foundation’s InvestWrite national essay competition bridges classroom learning in math, social studies, and language arts with the practical research and knowledge required for saving, investing and long-term planning. It also serves as a culminating activity for The Stock Market Game™ a highly effective in-person, remote learning and hybrid educational tool in which students invest and manage a hypothetical $100,000 online portfolio of stocks, bonds, mutual funds and cash.
“SIFMA Foundation’s programs provide youth of all backgrounds and especially in underserved communities the knowledge and tools for financial independence,” said Melanie Mortimer, President of the SIFMA Foundation. “We equip teachers to bring investor education into classrooms and prepare young people early in life to navigate the capital markets and financial decision-making. To date, we’ve transformed the lives of 20 million students like Nicolas through learning that is practical and fun.”
The Spring 2021 InvestWrite competition challenged students to write an essay about what is important for their future. They did research to determine how they would invest in the short run and in the long term to benefit themselves and others and how stocks, bonds or mutual funds can be combined to create a successful diversified portfolio.
Marchionda developed a plan that would have an impact today and into the future and wowed the team of judges with his essay.
Nicolas Marchionda and his teacher, Valerie Reeth, were honored by the Ogdensburg Borough Public School Board and the SIFMA Foundation during a Board of Education meeting on August 3, 2021.
Winning Essay by Nicolas Marchionda
At the age of thirteen, I set up a custodial investment account and started to trade stocks. I am now fourteen and my portfolio is set up in the mindset of long-term growth rather than short-term growth. My oldest brother’s trading during the twists and turns of the March 2020 bear market inspired me to invest. On November 1, 2020, I finally set up my account after working all summer and saving my money. My initial investment was $1,000 (partially funded by family members to show their support and encouragement). Some people would say investing so much money at such a young age is a bad decision. However, I find myself thinking about the old saying that “scared money doesn't make money.” In a market where day trading is the new normal, I am going against this wave while still investing in volatile stocks like the Chinese electric vehicle company, Nio, which can be held for future growth potential.
In the short term, I am saving to offset some of my college tuition and expenses. I prefer to try to pay for some of my education upfront than borrow student loans to be paid off later with interest. In the long term, I’m saving toward the purchase of my own home which would give me the opportunity to promote my independence and my future stability. I want to make this happen by the age of 30 which is a realistic goal. These goals are important to me because they will keep me motivated and focused on achieving bigger and better things to make me a better person and increase my wealth. You should never be happy in a stagnant position, there are always ways to grow and some ways improve the aspects of our lives while touching other people around them. My education will help to improve me to make a difference in the business world through my job. My spending on college and house purchases will help the economy and my house will help my future family and I grow someday.
If given $100,000 in the Stock Market Game, I would invest towards my college and future house funds. I would want my conceptual stock portfolio to yield 7% year over year in my college fund which I would plan to access in the next 5-7 years. I would want my house fund to yield about 10% year over year which I would plan to access in 15 years. For my short-term goal, I would invest $25,000 in stable blue-chip stocks (Intel, Microsoft, Disney, General Electric, etc.), $15,000 toward corporate and government bonds (Treasury Bonds, Schwab Corporate Bonds, Municipal Bonds, etc.), and 10% in mutual funds (Vanguard Index, Fidelity Contrafund). For my long-term portfolio, I would invest $25,000 towards up-and-coming sector stocks like electric and autonomous vehicles and high-tech businesses (Nio, Tesla, XPeng, Li Auto, Square, etc.). The remaining $25,000 would go to ETFs - (Exchange Traded Funds focusing on green energy and technology).
My short-term savings goal is based on stable stocks and fewer volatile stocks, bonds, and mutual funds that offer good returns. These proven investments will grow modestly over 5-7 years with less risk of loss. This is important as I may need to sell the investments during college to offset my expenses. I can’t afford to take chances with risky investments. Security is my top priority over quick growth. My long-term investments can be riskier and can explore growth as my home purchase plans are not until I reach 30 years old. Here I want to take advantage of up-and-coming innovative companies that are looking to grow. These stocks will increase and decrease over time but I will hold them for the long term. The Exchange Traded Funds (ETS) will provide me the diversification of stocks/securities, lower trading costs, and simplified investments. I am interested in growth ETF’s that I can hold and watch increase over the 15-year period.
I spent more time thinking about the investment strategies than I did my short and long-term savings goals. For me, the decision was quick and easy. Investing in my education is an investment in my future, Education is so important and while my family will help me with college, I want to be able to contribute and still have some financial freedom after college. I am worried about college loans and don’t want to be restricted in my lifestyle and opportunities after college. Buying a house is something that most kids don’t think of at an early age. However, for me, a home symbolizes independence and financial freedom. A home is also a wise investment - a place you can call your own and a place to build your future. My $100,000 investment will give me the necessary funds to help my college fund in 5-7 years while also giving me funds to purchase a home.
About the SIFMA Foundation for Investor Education
The SIFMA Foundation is dedicated to fostering knowledge and understanding of the financial markets for individuals of all backgrounds, with a focus on youth. Drawing on the involvement and expertise of educators and the financial industry, the SIFMA Foundation provides financial education programs and tools that strengthen economic opportunities across communities and increase individuals’ access to the benefits of the global marketplace. Notable Foundation programs include The Stock Market Game™, which has enabled more than 20 million students to become financially prepared for life, the InvestWrite® national essay competition, the Capitol Hill Challenge™, and Invest It Forward®. For more information on the work of the SIFMA Foundation, visit www.sifma.org/foundation.
InvestWrite® is a culminating activity for Stock Market Game students extending their classroom learning with a written challenge to address real-world financial issues and situations. Students must analyze, think critically and problem solve about a long-term saving and investing scenario. Nearly 250,000 student essays have been evaluated by their teachers and over 40,000 financial professionals have served as volunteer judges. Essays are judged by financial professionals who volunteer their time each year to ensure young people are exposed to the essentials of personal finance early in life. Judges evaluate students’ understanding of long-term investing, diversification, the global capital markets, and factors that drive investments as well as their expression of investment ideas in essay form. Winners locally and nationally rise to the top to earn exciting awards and prizes including laptops, classroom pizza parties, trophies, plaques and banners, and certificates.
For more information about InvestWrite®, visit www.investwrite.org.
SIFMA is the leading trade association for broker-dealers, investment banks and asset managers operating in the U.S. and global capital markets. On behalf of our industry’s nearly 1 million employees, we advocate on legislation, regulation and business policy, affecting retail and institutional investors, equity and fixed income markets and related products and services. We serve as an industry coordinating body to promote fair and orderly markets, informed regulatory compliance, and efficient market operations and resiliency. We also provide a forum for industry policy and professional development. SIFMA, with offices in New York and Washington, D.C., is the U.S. regional member of the Global Financial Markets Association (GFMA). For more information, visit www.sifma.org.