Wolves of Ponaganset: DECA club headed to nationals

Wolves of Ponaganset: DECA club headed to nationals

From left, Max Swanson, Nathan Watts, and Ryan Watts, of the Ponaganset High School Deca club, will be traveling to the national Deca competition with their financial plan later this month. (Breeze photo by Jacquelyn Moorehead)

GLOCESTER – After forming the DECA club last December, three Ponaganset High School juniors are enjoying success and will travel to Atlanta to compete in the 2018 International Career and Development Conference. The three landed second place at the 2018 Rhode Island DECA State Career Development Conference and Competition.

Max Swanson, Nathan Watts and Ryan Watts, all 17 years olds, gained PHS guidance counselor Alexander MacLeod’s attention when he heard the boys had started their own T-shirt company, the Berkshire Trading Company, and after three years were making a profit.

MacLeod said he knew he had to get them involved in an entrepreneurial club, and support them in their business. At the Rhode Island DECA competition, a student club focused on preparing youth as entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management, the PHS DECA team presented a financial plan instead of a business plan.

“When you listen to them you think, oh my gosh, you’ve already earned your MBA,” said MacLeod.

The team had just a month to make the plan. Ryan said what set the team apart was not having a product to sell, but rather a finance-based plan.

“The passion was there, the knowledge was there,” Nathan Watts said, adding that there were nights they would work until midnight, often taking shifts doing homework.

After watching “The Wolf of Wall Street,” during their freshman year, they decided to study finance and learn about markets and trading. After spending a day job shadowing at the investment firm Charles Schwab, the boys were hooked.

“We loved it,” Ryan Watts said.

Nathan said they started out with paper trading, which is trading without using money, and continued practicing for about a year leading up to the DECA (Delta Epsilon Chi and Distributive Education Clubs of America) project.

“We’d meet after school and do vocab lists of financial terms. We would study to learn the stock market,” Swanson said.

All the studying led them to plan out their DECA financial plan, an alternative mutual fund combining a mutual fund with hedge fund trading strategies.

“It gave us the best of both worlds, with a mutual fund where the general population can invest, and where we could also take strategies from a hedge fund that traditionally mutual funds don’t have access to,” Ryan said.

Focusing on individuals nearing retirement, age 45-55, with low retirement funds, the team created a concept that would allow funds to grow while moving money into a dividend payment strategy, providing people with returns and supplementary income during retirement.

“There’s an enormous percentage of the population that are not confident in their retirement funds as they near that age. I thought it was definitely an area that we could capitalize on. It was definitely a strong target market,” Ryan said.

Max explained that individuals nearing retirement with low funds have risky paths to choose from, and the three wanted to create a path that would lower the risk and depend on individual events, such as mergers or dividend payments.

“Money will consistently be moving into their income payments so that throughout retirement they’ll be able to live more comfortably,” Ryan said.

Even though the team members are still too young to trade on the market, they plan to invest when they turn 18.

The team will travel to compete against more than 18,000 students across the country, presenting an updated plan, from April 20-25 in Atlanta. School Counselor Linda Bucci will chaperone the trip.