David Goehring via Flickr
When most people think of investment conferences happening in Florida, chances are, they picture mostly older attendees and seasoned investors looking to maximize their retirement portfolios. And while there certainly was a fair share of that demographic represented at the recent MoneyShow University conference, held at the Omni Resort and Hotel just outside of Orlando, the majority of the faces in the crowd were largely made up of millennials. Filling the wide and high-ceilinged rotunda were students bused in from the University of Central Florida and other surrounding schools to attend the event.
This conference, dedicated to educating the next generation of investors, was started by Jordan Berger while he was an intern at The MoneyShow in San Francisco, working alongside founder Kim Githler, the founder of the website and the 35-year conference series. However, the objective of this conference within a conference is to bring expert knowledge to the younger generation. When I sat down with Berger and asked him why he wanted to do something like this, he said: “Within the first week at MoneyShow working with Kim, I knew I wanted to do something for my generation…There is nothing more empowering than creating a community of like-minded individuals and giving them the tools they need to succeed in life. ” In addition to his peers, Berger is interested in educating the generations that follow his own.
MoneyShow University builds off some of the MoneyShow’s best and well-known presenters. The show presents their knowledge well outside of the classroom. “The theoretical classroom can be very boring,” Berger says. “We wanted to build an event that required real-world thinking.”
This is the third time the conference has been to Orlando, and many have returned from last year. The ballroom is standing-room only, and the air inside is serious. Students and young adults are taking notes with a passion and listening with engagement. When asked about the specific marketing challenges for the event, Berger said, “It has been hard to get students up at the crack of dawn and learn about financial literacy and what we have found is that we have to have the support of the universities and professors,” he said. ”We don’t want to create barriers for people to access financial knowledge or barriers to learn about investing.”
After Berger’s introduction and Githler’s welcome session, the conference began with a haymaker in the form of Peter Schiff. Many readers will be familiar with Schiff, but it was obvious that many of the students in the audience were not (although, I did see him taking selfies with many a 19-year old fan).
Gage Skidmore via Flickr
Schiff, who runs Euro Pacific Capital, talked about the bubbles that exist in all aspects of our economy, and, after detailing a history of how we got here, he urged the students in the room to not worry about their student loans and invest in their businesses and individual futures. Why? Schiff hit the podium for emphasis, because you won’t have to pay back your student loans! Any listener of Schiff’s podcast will be familiar with his reasoning, but he believes that the amount of debt being piled on millennials is too vast and it will soon end in a financial restart. The speech definitely got the crowd enthusiastic and earned Schiff a warm ovation.
After Schiff, the conference got back to basics with a special from Fidelity that focused on investment basics and an overview of diversification. The father next to me kept tapping his son during this presentation telling him to write something down from up on the screen. During this presentation, it was interesting to see how many young students were already trading. Many students spoke to presenters afterwards to ask about their specific stock choices. Mark Skousen of Forecasts & Strategies followed this presentation and urged students to be realistic. He did not speak to students about the grandeur of dreams, but rather the reward in doing what you can and following the money first and letting your financial power set you free.
The whole event is great for students. The speakers present a mix of advanced and basic concepts. The event ended with an inspiring and raw speech from Tom Sosnoff, CEO of TastyTrade Inc. Sosnoff urged the students to invest aggressively, test their limits, take risks and to understand what makes them interesting, and to nurture it.
By the end of the conference, it was clear that MoneyShow University has the potential to be on every college campus and to empower hundreds of thousands of students who might never get the chance to learn about financial literacy from industry experts. Again, referencing what Sosnoff mentioned in his speech, Berger sees risk as the main issue to millennial investors. This issue is important to Berger and the other presenters because millennial investors are becoming entrepreneurs at a slow pace. Berger believes that young people must be able to take risks. But to do so effectively, they first need to understand what that really means, and the potential rewards that come with it. That’s exactly what MoneyShow University aims to help them do.