Financial Adviser Creates March (Money) Madness to Promote Financial Literacy

Brokerage professional gives common sports bracket investment spin

What’s your response for people who might liken this to gambling?

Some people feel as though the stock market in general is like gambling. However, your odds making money on your investments are much better than your odds of winning at the casino, especially when you do your homework and research the stocks that you want to invest in.

I don’t view this challenge as gambling at all. People join the challenge because they want to learn about the market, or they have some level of knowledge of the market and want to test their ability. This is no different than someone going to buy a book at Barnes and Noble because they want to learn about investing. I’ve just turned a traditionally boring subject, into a fun, educational, social experience and have given individuals an incentive to learn by providing prizes.

You did this last year. What was the outcome for the winners?

Many people who have played the game in the past knew nothing about the stock market.  Joining the challenge pushed them to read the Wall Street Journal and other financial publications and Websites in order to do the research needed to make their picks. They began watching the market and gained some level of comfort with seeing stocks go up and go down. Ultimately many of them decided to open brokerage accounts with eTrade, Schwab and other firms to start investing in the market with real money.

How does social media play a role in promoting, marketing, and participation in MMM?

Absolutely! I am using Facebook, Twitter and e-mail marketing to help reach my goal of 100,000 players. Since I’ve created an incentive where the more people play, the more the winner can take home, there is an inherent incentive to share information on the challenge and to get friends to play along with you. I will also be partnering with a few individuals with large social media followings by making them “VIP Players” in the challenge that folks can match wits with and compare scores. For example, author and businessman Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) has close to 1 million followers on Twitter and he will be a VIP player in the game that individuals can play against. His inclusion in the game and promotion of it via his social media accounts should help with the popularity of the game.

Games have become inherently social, and I hope that MMM is no different. Because people can form groups to play against their friends, my aim is to create a social experience where people can learn about the market together and encourage each other to become more knowledgeable about their finances.

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