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Mon, Feb 19, 2024 4:27pmGrey Clock 5 min

Seventeen-year-old Sophia Castiblanco doesn’t just drive a Tesla . She also owns shares of the company .

Sophia, a high school junior in the Chicago suburbs, invests in stocks such as Tesla, Apple and When she started making money as a social-media content creator three years ago, her parents encouraged her to put some of her earnings in investments likely to grow over time, rather than parking all her cash in a savings account .

She now has several thousand dollars invested in accounts set up by her father at Charles Schwab, Edward Jones and Robinhood . Last year, she saved up money to buy a new Tesla Model 3, which starts at around $40,000, through a payment plan she is splitting with her parents. On TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, she makes videos teaching her thousands of followers about investing basics.

“I’ve always had a business mindset of wanting to make money, and I’m very OK with taking risk,” Sophia said. “There’s really no minimum age to start.”

Sophia is one of many teenagers jumping into the U.S. stock market. Teens generally can’t open their own brokerage accounts until they turn 18, but adults can set up custodial accounts for minors. The accounts are turned over to the children when they reach legal age.

Custodial accounts for teens at Schwab totalled nearly 200,000 in 2022, up from about 120,000 in 2019, according to the company. They jumped above 300,000 in 2023, thanks in part to Schwab’s integration of TD Ameritrade. Other brokerages, including Vanguard, Fidelity and Morgan Stanley’s E*Trade, also reported a surge in custodial accounts in recent years.

Some teens ask their parents to open accounts—and share the login information—at brokerages such as Robinhood that don’t offer custodial accounts. At smaller financial apps such as Greenlight, teenagers are investing more money than ever before. They invested $20 million in 2023 using the Greenlight app, up from around $10 million in 2021.

A Fidelity study on teens and money recently estimated that about a quarter of teenagers in the U.S. have started investing, based on an online survey of 2,081 respondents ages 13 to 17. Trades placed using Fidelity’s Youth app, an account opened by parents but owned by teens, jumped in the fourth quarter.

Many teenagers opened up their accounts during winter break while off from school, said Kelly Lannan, a senior vice president at Fidelity.

The boom in teen trading is part of a wider rush to financial markets among Americans since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Stocks rocketed higher , drawing hordes of newbie investors trying to profit from the big gains.

Many of those new investors have since ditched the meme stocks that soared during that era but have remained invested, sending the share of Americans who own stocks to an all-time high.

Stocks are back at record levels, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average recently topping 38000 and the S&P 500 eclipsing 5000 for the first time. Since the start of 2020, when an unprecedented trading boom among rookie investors kicked off, the S&P 500 has soared around 55%.

“There’s just more and more awareness that the sooner you start, the better things are,” said James Martielli, head of investment and trading services at Vanguard.

Martielli said he opened custodial accounts for his three children more than a decade ago when they were toddlers. At Vanguard, there has been a jump in custodial IRAs, a type of retirement account.

The biggest advantage is time. Setting aside $10 a week for a child at birth would leave an 18-year-old with a roughly $20,000 nest egg, assuming an 8% annual return, according to the investing app Stash, which offers custodial accounts. Left until the investor turned 70, and assuming annual growth of 8%, that sum would mushroom to about $1 million.

Of course, these returns can be shaped by many factors, including when an investor buys in and how stocks end up doing. The S&P 500 has recorded a 10% annualised total return over the past three decades, according to Dow Jones Market Data through the end of 2023. Buying an S&P 500 index fund at the peak of the dot-com bubble in 2000 would generate an annualised total return of around 7%, while buying at the low of the financial crisis in 2009 would lead to a roughly 16% annualised total return.

Hot tech stocks

Brokerage executives say that technology behemoths that are ubiquitous in the lives of teens are often some of the most widely held shares. At Vanguard, U.S. stock index funds are particularly popular in custodial accounts.

Mahanth Komuravelli, 16, has a small chunk of his roughly $7,000 portfolio in an S&P 500 index fund, while most of his positions are in big companies such as Amazon and Advanced Micro Devices. He is exploring buying some small-cap stocks such as education company Chegg . Mahanth uses a Fidelity Youth Account that his father helped him open. The two often discuss investment ideas.

“Sometimes he asks me for advice,” said Mahanth, a high school junior in Edison, N.J.

Kaida Benes, a 13-year-old from the suburbs of Minneapolis, has been stashing money—earned from household chores such as doing the dishes or cleaning the bathroom—in an investment account on Greenlight that now has about $1,000 in it.

She’s also been drawn to bigger companies and has invested in tech stocks such as Apple, Alphabet and streaming companies Disney and Netflix . At times, she has been on edge about potential losses. She says her mother has helped her stomach the volatility.

“Stocks go up and down. It’s fine, it just happens,” Kaida said she’s learned.

She has been hunting for other opportunities to make money to pour into savings or investments. She recently found a recliner chair at a yard sale and enlisted her parents to help fix it up and flip it for a profit on Facebook marketplace, she and her mother, Renee Benes, said.

“I like having money,” Kaida said.

Renee Benes said she was frustrated that she didn’t learn about investing until a year or two ago, when she was well into her 30s. Benes, who’s an online influencer, wanted her daughter and son to be more financially savvy.

Lessons learned

Many young investors are starting to invest earlier than previous generations did. Almost two-thirds of Gen Z investors said they first started learning about investing in high school or middle school, compared with about 38% of millennials in a 2023 Bank of America survey of affluent individuals. Some are introduced to stocks through family members or teachers, while others have turned to social media.

Felix Peng, a 17-year-old in the Los Angeles area, said he has learned a lot about investing from YouTube and Instagram—but that some social-media stars promote riskier trading strategies that seem more like gambling. He said it is a red flag when influencers try to sell expensive trading courses that promise investors they will make a lot of money quickly.

Still, Felix believes it is beneficial for young people to learn from their mistakes when they have less money to lose. His investments in Apple, Meta Platforms and Alphabet have performed well. But when he bought shares of Teladoc around their peak and watched them tumble, he saw how tough it is to time the market. He has about $1,000 in a custodial account on Stockpile, an investing app geared toward parents and children.

“It’s a great lesson and I’m glad I learned,” Felix said.

Seventeen-year-old Rachael Kim in Orange County, Calif., traded shares of AMC Entertainment Holdings during the meme-stock era and said she made a roughly 300% profit.

“For a little while, I got addicted to that adrenaline,” Rachael said of day trading. “But as I began researching more, I realised it was highly unlikely to continue that aggressive profit.”

Rachael said she started studying investing to help her parents, who are immigrants, prepare for retirement. Now she regularly invests about half of the money she makes—from creating social-media content, working as a cashier and teaching at her church—in index funds tracking the S&P 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq-100. She has about $10,000 in her custodial Roth IRA at Fidelity.

“Since we’re young, we have the privilege of seeing our investment compound,” Rachael said. “The biggest lesson would be to start early.”


Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

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AACCI’s Strategic Vision for Enhancing Australia-Arab Trade Relations

The Australian Arab Chamber of Commerce & Industry (AACCI) is fostering robust trade relations between Australia and Arab countries.

Mon, May 20, 2024 5 min

In an era where global trade and international relationships are more crucial than ever, the Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce & Industry (AACCI) serves as a bridge, for cooperation and growth between Australia and the Arab nations. Led by its Chairman, Mr. Mohamed Hage, the AACCI has taken on projects aimed at strengthening relationships and fostering development across borders.

This exclusive interview explores the initiatives implemented by the AACCI to expand its presence and influence in the region including the significant establishment of a new operational hub in Dubai. We also delve into how the Chamber embraces education through training and research, its participation in major international exhibitions, and its active support for both large corporations and small businesses.

Looking towards tomorrow, Mr. Mohamed shares his vision for broadening AACCI’s reach emphasizing the importance of the on-ground operations and cultural understanding in building business connections.

-Could you elaborate on the Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce & Industry, including its objectives and main areas of focus?

The Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce & Industry (AACCI) plays a fundamental role, in promoting business partnerships and trade between Australia and the 22 Arab countries. As a member of the Union of Arab Chambers affiliated with the Arab League, AACCI focuses on strengthening trade and investment ties, across these countries.

To nurture these connections effectively AACCI has outlined four objectives: facilitating trade and investment activities, certifying documents, educating stakeholders, and offering marketing assistance.

Our initiatives are designed not only to empower trade and investment endeavors but to also ensure engagement with specific sectors that drive these activities. With an understanding of the characteristics, strengths and preferences of each country, AACCI prides itself on its specialized knowledge customized to suit the distinct business environments of these nations.

– As the AACCI approaches its 50th anniversary, what have been some of the key milestones and achievements?

I believe one of AACCI’s accomplishments is the opportunities it has opened up for numerous Australian companies to access markets, in the region. Moreover, the strong bilateral trade relationship that has developed between Australia and the 22 Arab nations over the five decades has led to trade transactions amounting to billions of dollars.

This extensive trade covers industries such as food and beverages, luxury hotels and many more services. Each successive generation, within AACCI has built upon the foundation laid by its predecessors enriching their knowledge base and expanding their range of services.

– How does the AACCI leverage its diverse leadership team to enhance trade and investment opportunities between Australia and the Arab region?

Since taking on the role of chairman, my main focus has been on expanding our presence in the region. This led to the idea of opening an office in Dubai, which symbolizes our dedication to deepening our engagement in that area. We have successfully secured the license to open our first office in Dubai after 50 years, which will serve as a gateway to the GCC and North Africa.

I strongly believe that building two-way trade and investment ties requires more than a degree of business connectivity; it demands having local representatives present in each region. With trends emphasizing strategies the value of face-to-face engagements cannot be overstated.

Setting up offices in the region is essential for the Chamber to truly serve as a link and support system for business activities. Ultimately this expansion will bring benefits to our members and partners by providing them with access, to dynamic markets and diverse prospects.

– Can you discuss the significance of AACCI’s role in cultural and business exchanges between the two regions?

The importance of understanding cultures in our operations cannot be overstated. To address this, we have included a training platform within the Chamber to strengthen our cultural awareness initiatives. This new program offers our members access to modules on our website focusing on global business practices.

Furthermore, we have set up a Center of Excellence specifically dedicated to researching areas like food security and cultural awareness. These research endeavors are essential for promoting knowledge between the two regions.

By combining the resources of the Center of Excellence, our training resources, and the forthcoming local office in Dubai, we’re providing cultural awareness not only in the region but also in Australia. This approach ensures that our members are well equipped and knowledgeable boosting their effectiveness and involvement, in markets.

– What is the objective of your on-ground presence at conferences and events?

Participating in conferences and on ground events is very important for increasing awareness in industries like construction where knowledge of opportunities in the Arab world may not be widespread. When we see projects such as NEOM or notice the construction boom happening in the region it becomes important for organizations like the Chamber of Commerce to highlight these prospects. By taking part in large scale expos such as the Sydney Build Expo we position ourselves at the forefront of these advancements.

Our presence at these events enables interaction giving entrepreneurs a chance to visit our booth engage in discussions and learn more about the region in an approachable and personalized manner. This plays a role in simplifying the process and making opportunities concrete.

– With such a diverse membership base, how does AACCI tailor its services to meet the needs of both large corporations and small startups?

When it comes to discussing business it’s important to grasp how influence and vision come into play. Businesses looking to expand are often motivated by a desire to achieve something whether they are big companies or small enterprises. Small businesses typically aim to raise their brands profile while larger corporations seek recognition and market dominance.

Standing out in this area can be tough mainly because the key driving force is the passion to showcase the brand and products on a platform. This determination serves as a motivator for entrepreneurs.

At the Chamber we make a point of recognizing the needs of both big and small players by understanding each members individual situation. We ensure that every member is well informed about the opportunities and risks that come with expanding. For small businesses, this means being aware of the financial demands, while large businesses are advised on the necessity of both financial and emotional resilience.

– How does AACCI plan to expand or evolve its services in the coming years to further support its members?

The importance of having resources on the ground cannot be emphasized enough. Having local staff is key to establishing connections with the communities we serve. Without a presence in the area staying updated on events and activities becomes quite challenging.

This is why, as I’ve mentioned before, we have established an office in Dubai, staffed with personnel dedicated to supporting our members. This local office will help us effectively bridge the gap between Australia and the Arab world. And our members will benefit from insights and assistance from someone who truly knows the landscape.

In Australia we have equipped offices throughout the country staffed by individuals who play a significant role in our operations. This strong domestic network complements our efforts ensuring that we provide support to our members both locally and globally. This strategic approach is crucial, for nurturing business relationships and fostering continental understanding.



Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

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