Monday Starters - By Soo Ewe Jin, THESTAR,May 24, 2010, BURSA Malaysia chief executive officer Datuk Yusli Mohamed Yusoff and his senior team came over for lunch at The Star recently.Among other things, they were wondering how to get the young generation excited over the stock market and whether, instead of the usual birthday presents, parents should give their children shares instead.I was reminded that at a recent roundtable discussion with StarBizWeek, Yusli had lamented that 15 to 20 years ago, Malaysia was one of the most exciting emerging markets in the world and many investors wanted to trade here.“But now, we're like a little boy with so many taller guys around us, hence the need for us to shout louder and to jump higher just to get investors' attention,” he said.So, if getting investors' attention is a problem, what more getting the attention of the young?
At this point, I suggested that Bursa should add some razzmatazz to the event that heralds a company going public. If you want someone who is fiddling with his iPhone on one hand and updating his FaceBook on another to get excited over what is going on at the exchange, the image of a man in a suit hitting a gong is about the last thing he would be interested in.When Marvel became the first comic book company to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1991, the Wall Street Journal announced: Spider-Man is coming to Wall Street.The event was in turn promoted with an actor in a Spider-Man costume accompanying Stan Lee to the Stock Exchange. Cool!
what about the role played by parents to get their children interested in the exchange?
Yusli suggested that parents could buy shares as a form of investment for their children. That is a good idea, especially if the shares are solid blue chips and the companies also represent values that are appropriate.
According to a recent report, if you had invested in 1,000 Public Bank shares when it went public in 1967, you would have been a multi-millionaire by now based on the share price and dividends received over the years.Imagine, if you had given those shares to your new-born child as a gift, he would be so grateful to you for making him so rich at a relatively young age.
In the United States, this is commonplace because there are many companies there that are familiar to children. Apart from Marvel, companies like Disney, McDonald's and Nintendo connect to the children because their products are all over the place. In the United States, you can open up a custodial investment account in your child's name and he or she can select companies they have an interest in, and with your guidance they can invest in and become owners of these companies. You can also buy stock as a gift whereby actual stock certificate from the company you choose comes beautifully framed and engraved for your little shareholder.
But with everything going scripless these days, we no longer get certificates of our shares, so how do we do this here? The next question to ask would be, what are the children-friendly stocks on Bursa?
So the real challenge for Bursa is still to ensure that there are enough companies on the exchange that will appeal to Gen Y and beyond. Otherwise, in terms of retail investors, it will still have to be content with retirees and housewives with plenty of cash and time on their hands.
Deputy executive editor Soo Ewe Jin appreciates that besides shares, there are many creative gift ideas, like an online voucher or a prepaid stay at a beach resort, that we can give to our loved ones.