St. Ignatius team wins Saxon Investment Challenge

Saxon Investment Challenge winners Justine Rhule, left, and Kelsi Persad, third from left, receive their top awards from Saxon CEO Brian Williams, second from left, and Education Chief Officer Christen Suckoo. - Photo: Mark Muckenfuss

Neither Kelsi Persad nor Justine Rhule have plans to play the market with the $2,500 prize they are splitting after winning the Saxon Investment Challenge, an annual competition for Cayman high school students.

Ten teams from several private and government high schools were given an imaginary $100,000 to invest over the course of six months.

The winners were announced Tuesday, April 17, at St. Ignatius Catholic School.

Kelsi, 16, and Justine, 15, of St. Ignatius, said they both plan to save their winnings, rather than investing them in stocks. But they said the experience of creating and managing a stock portfolio for the competition would make them more likely to invest sometime in the future. For Justine, it may impact her career plans.

“Doing this has inspired me to go in that direction,” she said, discussing what avenue she might pursue in her college studies. Prior to the competition, she said, she was thinking of a career in law. Now, she’s weighing that against working as an investor.

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Chief Officer of the Ministry of Education Christen Suckoo said the contest was not necessarily designed to recruit students into the investment industry. Rather, he said, the benefit is in teaching them how to think differently.

“That’s why schools exist,” Mr. Suckoo said, “to teach you how to have strong character and to teach you how to analyze. You’ve gained a skill set no one can take away from you.”

This is the ninth year of the competition, which is sponsored by Saxon Smart Insurance, OneTRADEx and the Ministry of Education. The sponsors provide the prize money. In addition to the $2,500 for first place, the second-place team of Christian Murray and Ethan Cronier of St. Ignatius won $1,500. Clifton Hunter High School’s Fabian O’Connor and Joel Lyn were awarded $500 for third place.

There were also monthly $100 prizes for the teams making the most in a given month.

Kelsi and Justine had an investment return of 51.44 percent.

They said they tried to look at not only how stocks might be performing historically, but also what was going on in the world that might affect market trends.

“We bought Home Depot at a time when the hurricanes were going on,” Justine said, anticipating there would be a demand for building materials. “We were looking at things going on in our community.”

They also tried to take in the big picture.

“We looked at the market itself,” Justine said. “We looked at [major stocks] and how their yearly returns were. If a stock was going up consistently, we would buy it.”

When stocks they had invested in went down, it was “nerve wracking,” she added.

“Sometimes our money would go really low,” said Kelsi, “and we’d start freaking out.”

While she might eventually put some of her own money into the market, Kelsi said, she anticipated doing so might create even more anxiety than she experienced during the competition.

“I think I would be more stressed,” she said, “because it would be real money that was being lost.”

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