We recently spoke with the president and the marketing team of the Investment Club and asked about what they do, the importance of financial literacy, and how you can get started in your journey toward financial freedom. The Investing Club regularly holds events with professionals in order to connect students with people who invest their lives and time into helping others invest their money.
The role of VP of Marketing at the time of the interview has since been taken over by Brayden Lee.
- Introduce yourselves. What prompted you to establish an Investing Club here at MacEwan?
Gabriel: My name is Gabriel Ambutong and I’m the president of the club. It was initially founded by a different person named Spencer. We continued it after the pandemic. My reason for being a part of the club and sustaining it throughout was because I think financial literacy is very important. I think, especially when you’re in university, and you’re at a young age, it’s a good time to start thinking about what your goals are in life are and where you want to be.
Natalia: I’m Natalia and I’m the VP of marketing for the club. I’ve just joined the club last year. My job is to focus on reaching students and seeing different ways that we can expand our reach. There’s some things you can learn in finance and accounting courses in school, but we really want to take that further and see how to help students know where to start and how to network – to put them in touch with professionals. We’re devoted to providing an avenue where students can get resources that they need to get ahead and provide them with the tools.
- What exactly is investing?
G: I would say that it would be like letting your money work for you. Because if you just have it in a savings account, odds are that it’s not going to earn you as much money – you’re actually going to lose buying power. If you had invested and you’re earning more money than the inflation rate, then you’re actually able to, at the very least, not lose the amount of money that you have.
N: There’s so many different ways you can start out as a student can be something as simple as, like, starting your TFSA account. The contribution for that is $6500, as of 2023.
- How does one start investing? What would be a good amount of money to start with?
G: I would say, any amount is a good amount. Honestly, I think if you build the habits at a young age, it compounds over time. So any amount of money that you find that can be something else, can definitely be put to better use by investing. If you find that you have goals that you want to attain at a certain age, the earlier you start, the more likely you are to attain those goals, especially by the time you retire. You don’t want to invest (in) something that you need right away, like for groceries or bills. Because you don’t want to gamble – the main way to be safest when you’re investing is looking at long term investments.
N: You also want to be careful as a beginner, you don’t want to start off with a huge amount and then investing it all into this one stock might be very risky. So you want to ask yourself: what are your goals? How much are you able to work with? We can work with a plan to start with x amount of money, look at your income and how much you’re comfortable with investing.
- I’ve asked around and had some people express that they don’t care much about stocks because it seems too complicated. What would you say to people that may want to get into investing but don’t know how to make sense of it all?
G: I would say that stocks aren’t the only way for you to invest. There’s different asset types. And you can start really, really small and you can even start by talking to professors on campus. You’re gonna want information and it could be daunting at first. But if you have the right resources, the right avenues, and you’re looking into it thoroughly, you’ll be set for your first steps.
Natalia: Yeah, definitely not just limit yourself to stocks. For example, bonds are a bit less risky, usually.
- Who are some good people to talk to outside of bankers to provide insight on investing?
N: You definitely want to look at professionals as a first reference point. If you’re talking to someone like your friends, or people who are in a similar level of experience, that might not be such a great source. Try not to get influenced by that peer pressure. Like we said, there’s great professors that MacEwan in finance and accounting, who have industry experience. We also have RBC On Campus, which is really helpful for students who want to go down and chat with someone there. They’re happy to help!
G: We have a few events that we poke through the term with professionals from AIMCO and RBC. Anyone can come in and learn about wealth management. We try to find professionals that have spoken to students before and whose presentations are really focused for students to digest quickly. Another source that I found is if you’re active on LinkedIn, you can find someone who’s in Wealth Management, or something like that. Try to build your connections but be cautious, of course.
- Any particular apps/services you use or recommend?
G: There’s definitely different avenues. If you want to go about it through self-directed investing, you go through Quest Trade or Wealthsimple. You want to look at what kind of strategy you want to implement, because you also can go through your bank. There’s different limitations and fees through each avenue. I started using Wealthsimple after talking to one of my professors and it’s worked well for me since then.
N: I use BMO Financial, they have a self directed rate for more experienced users but you can also go with someone from the bank. Like Gabriel said, there’d be different fees and things like that. So you just have to see what’s offered. It works for me because it was very easy signup process and it’s always easy to speak with someone from the bank.
- Which kind of industry is the lowest risk to invest in? Highest risk?
G: Lowest risk… I would say if there’s an actual company that’s reliable, you know they’re not going anywhere. (There’ll be plenty) of examples that you can look through in the S&P 500. But, of course, there’s no 100% guarantee. The best way to safeguard yourself is to have a diversified portfolio. In my opinion, the highest risk is something like Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. If you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, I don’t think you should get involved with all that – it’s a highly volatile market.
N: You also need to know when it’s a good time to maybe quit. If you see it going way down… yes, you want to kind of stay optimistic but don’t get too emotional. You need to know yourself and the industry enough to gauge whether you can try to make that money back or not.
- What are some important terms you think people should be aware of when stepping into the realm of investing?
Diversification – not putting all your eggs in one basket. Picking the right investments and spreading them out so as to not lose all of your money.
Compound interest – money invested that grows over time. The longer you invest, the more it grows on itself. That’s why you want to start as soon as possible.
Capital gains and loss – the money you gain or lose from an investment due to its market. It’s also important to understand taxes and how they will affect your gains and losses.
- The big one of 2022: what’s the deal with NFTs?
G: For our purposes, we more try to gear towards long term investments. The previous faculty advisor for the Club, Pat McGinnis, once mentioned that crypto is very similar to gambling. It’s not something where you can do a lot of research off because there’s not a whole lot to go off of. It’s just highly volatile and very unpredictable. With cryptocurrency, you can base its price off of whether or not Elon Musk tweets, right? I wouldn’t say it’s something for a safe, long term investment. Even some people who work in finance don’t even really understand crypto sometimes. It’s like, if you don’t understand it, like why are you putting so much money into it?
- What are some common misconceptions that you would like to clear up?
G: The idea that investing is not something that’s for everybody. I truly believe it’s for anyone. You don’t have to be a business student to understand finances. Finance is applied to everyone. If you want to manage yourself, you want to be able to have the tools and the resources. We make sure we’re providing the opportunities, the tools, the skillset and the knowledge that people would need to have better financial literacy. It can be daunting, but it’s not as daunting as you might think it is.