You’re never too young

Market trader Eyal Girhish set up a 13-week course to anyone 15 and up in micro and macroeconomics, accounting and the capital markets.

It’s hard not to get caught up in the boyish enthusiasm of Eyal Girhish of Rehovot, who, at 26, has been market trading for six years and manages nearly NIS 500,000 for others. He thinks that local teens need a serious dose of Economics 101 so that they don’t turn into clueless adults.
That’s why earlier this year he launched a program called Start, which offers a 13-week course (NIS 1,700) in micro and macroeconomics, accounting and the capital markets to anyone older than 15.
The courses cover specifics of common savings instruments and what influences them, and in the last three sessions, gives practical training in how to analyze a stock and trade it, including on-line demonstrations.
Girhish is particularly interested in teaching high-school students, so when they set out on their own they will be able to manage their finances properly.
“People think teenagers aren’t interested in this stuff but it’s not true,” he says. “Today in the Internet age, young people are exposed to financial news and can very easily learn more.”
They certainly agree at Tradenet, which last year ran TradeKef, a five-day camp for 20 kids aged 14 to 16 who paid NIS 950 to get a taste of trading on the US stock market.
Tradenet plans to repeat the camp this summer, with a twist: The firm plans to run a “global camp” linking the teens here to teens all over the world.
Tradenet is also starting to reach into the schools. Last month, it completed a “Young Traders” course it had sponsored for 20 students in the business track at the ORT high school in Lod. The course taught them about the US stock market and gave them a feel for stock market investing in real time.
Israeli students don’t learn much about economics or finance. Though there is a two-point matriculation exam in economics, it is not a required subject nor is it particularly popular: According to the Education Ministry, only around 1,600 high schoolers are studying it.
Yossi Esh, chairman of the Israeli Union of Home Economy Advisers and Coaches, believes children should be exposed to economic concepts even earlier.
Four years ago he helped launch a program called Caspit, a curriculum for third to sixth graders, that is operating in 80 schools. The curriculum comprises 64 weekly lessons over two years, and some 250 teachers have been trained to teach it.
“The program gives the pupils understanding of and proficiency in basic economic concepts,” says Esh. “But we aren’t just teaching information; we’re teaching values. Saving money is a value; setting limits and delaying gratification are values that have to be taught.”
So far, 5,000 children have gone through the program.
“Thisprogram is part of a vision,” he continues. “We aren’t just teachingabout money. We teach them how to have a proper dialogue within theirfamilies about money.
“A child who grows up in surroundingswhere he only sees consumption, but doesn’t understand about the incomeor savings that made that consumption possible will always be poor.
“Wethink giving the children these tools will not only help them flourisheconomically; we believe that correct handling of money can reduceinstances of violence and divorce. Proper handling of family financesimpacts on Israeli society as a whole.”
    – S.A.