PersonalFinanceLab is a financial simulation program that offers complete control to teachers to choose what their students experience and provides live customer service too.
Launching a New Finance Department
Bruce Groberman is the Director of Financial Education at North Point Schools, which operates 3 private schools (Boys School, Girls School and Co-Ed High School), in Calgary, (Canada). He was hired to head the finance department and played a key role in selecting the financial simulation they would use for their stock market trading program. They started using SIFMA as a stock market game in 2017.
“They’re very supportive… But it was missing a lot of important features that we required. You can only trade US stock exchanges.”Bruce Groberman
As a Canadian school, they needed the flexibility to change their currency to CAD dollars, but this wasn’t available. However, even if North Point school was based in the US, they wouldn’t have been able to trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), the London exchange, or any other international exchanges.
None of these exchanges were available on that platform. Along with other trading settings that were very important for the program that Bruce was setting up. Their goal was to find a platform they could customize to accommodate the wide range of students who would be using the program. It was important they had the flexibility to adjust the settings to the students’ growing understanding of the financial markets.
End of Semester Celebration for North Point Schools
Customizable Settings for Inclusive Learning
“When I discovered that PersonalFinanceLab had virtually everything that was missing from the stock market game and a lot more, we switched,” he said, “Now we have the ability to set highly customized challenges for different grades.”
Bruce and his students started using PersonalFinanceLab in Fall 2022, and he’s been able to set-up and continue to customize the platform ever since. Some settings Bruce couldn’t do before, and now he can include:
- Setting their own margin rates
- Setting their own interest rates on cash balances
- Setting their own start and end dates for their challenges
- As well as setting multiple challenges!
Recently some students requested to have the Japanese market opened. Bruce can now accommodate requests like these from his students. Keeping them engaged to explore and learn as they go. He explained, “because PersonalFinanceLab is so feature rich, it lets me give a more comprehensive perspective on the financial markets and investment planning to the students.”
Awesome Digital Badges
On top of the customization, he said the digital badges were another feature that has really enhanced the student experience. It’s also made his life easier because the badges are automatically awarded for investing achievements. Bruce explained how the badges of achievement really motivated his students to keep on learning and expanding their horizons.
“I don’t have to go through and figure out who to give what badge to. Plus your badges deal with way more than just who had the most equity…you have things in there that really proves that they’re learning about investing, rather than who’s the winner with the most money. So, your digital badges are awesome,” he said.
How Live Support Saved the Day
Bruce had a good story to tell about working with the Helpdesk team on their first day using PersonalFinanceLab. There was a technical issue. His account had been set-up with the wrong email, and he was locked out. He only had an hour with his students and time was of the essence.
“I figured this is never gonna happen. They’re never going to clear this up…”Bruce Groberman
But then someone on the live chat answered his message. They were able to fix his account so his students could get registered and using the program right away.
“I’ve given your people a lot of stuff that needed to be done like, right away, unfortunately… So the quick response means a lot to me.”Bruce Groberman
That was why he said, “My personal favorite feature is the online support during trading hours. It’s great! If we had something that needed to be dealt with right away, we could never get that done with SIFMA.”
The Student Perspective of PersonalFinanceLab
“You know, they don’t treat it like a video game, but they have the same enthusiasm, as they would have in a video game competition,” he said. He explained how the biggest benefit for the students were the 15-Minute price updates, and the live rankings.
“That is big. It keeps the students engaged in the challenge. And it keeps them interested in what’s happening in the market, in the economy, and in the world. On a minute-by-minute basis.”
The North Point Finance Department Now
Today, Bruce has students from grade 4 to 12 who can understand the basic concepts of investing, and place multiple trades…on the very first day that they’re introduced to the program. Students check their portfolios in the hallways between classes and everyone in the school is now trading.
Every student placed a trade before the end of their first day after being introduced to the program.
Currently North Point School Has:
- 130 students participating on PersonalFinanceLab
- 3 completely customized investing challenges
- Enabled exchanges include US, Canada, Japan and Tel Aviv
- Enabled trading strategies include stocks, cryptocurrencies, and short selling
- Each student has their own virtual stock account
- Students buy and sell trades independently
Keeping Student Focused and Engaged
Students can do comprehensive research and never leave the site!
For the younger students, it makes it confusing to leave the platform because the more tabs left open the more complicated it gets. On this topic Bruce said, “For the most part, we’re able to stay right within PersonalFiannceLab to get all the research that we need.”
In closing, Bruce said that teachers shouldn’t be scared or hesitant to use PersonalFinanceLab.
“It doesn’t make any difference if [teachers] know anything about the stock market. At all. If a kid in grade 4 can figure it out, anyone can. Plus it’s fun. PersonalFinanceLab takes care of everything for you. Your students will enjoy learning about investing and finance in a real-world environment. It is identical to a real trading platform you would get in TD or BMO.”
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