News Story

Fifth-grader Danyaal Rizvi placed second in the nation in the SIFMA Foundation's National InvestWrite® 2022 Fall Competition. After thoroughly researching the financial markets, Rizvi crafted a carefully planned investment portfolio for long-term returns. This extraordinary accomplishment earned him recognition from the SIFMA Foundation and the Illinois Bankers Association during an honorable school presentation on April 11, 2023. This champion of financial planning joins Benjamin Franklin's sentiment that “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest,” - emphasizing that investing with research as one starting point can ultimately lead to greater returns.

In April, the IBA proudly celebrated three InvestWrite awards winners, Meghan Lim, Marissa Pagano, and Jacob Duerr. Meghan, from Belding Elementary School in Chicago, wrote the top essay in Illinois for the Middle School Division of InvestWrite. Next, the IBA traveled to Carmel High School in Mundelein and Scales Mound High School in Scales Mound to present Marissa with the sixth best award and Jacob with the tenth-best essay in the nation. IBA is delighted to sponsor and administer SIFMA Foundation's Stock Market Game across our state. Congratulations to all awardees!

Learn how to bring this program to your community - Illinois Bankers Financial Literacy Programs!

Winning Essay by Danyaal Rizvi … The Right Portfolio 


Research is critical because you need to know historical facts, and the current business to build a portfolio with the right mix. It is also important to find the risk factor of a person to build the right mix of stocks, mutual funds, and bonds. When investing in stocks, one should research the company's fundamentals and growth strategy including dividends payout. When investing in bonds, one should research credit ratings. The most important aspect or part of research when investing in a mutual fund is its fees or expense ratio as it can change your overall returns on investment. 

Tools To Help

One excellent tool to help you with research is Yahoo! Finance because it is very accurate and simple to use. Mutual funds are the easiest way to start investing. Bonds are very safe but offer very low growth. Stocks can offer fast growth but are much riskier than bonds. Another great tool is Investopedia, it educates you a lot about investing and each kind of trade in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. One more tool to help you is the Compound Interest Calculator which shows you how much money you can make with the right investments over time. 

Key Performance Indicators

I look at beta a lot so I can see the growth of the company I will buy. I also look a lot at the 52-week range of a company to see how much a company grew in the last year. I also look at a company's market capitalization to see how well they have done and how much money they have made. Another thing that I look at is company news to see if the company is worth my money for investing.

Key Performance Indicators Importance

The most important part of the beta is it shows you if the company is fast-growing or slow growing. If the beta is above one or one that means it is fast growing but can drop fast too. If it is below one it means that it is slowly growing and slowly dropping. The 52-week range of a company shows the growth of a company in a year and if it is fast growing. The market capitalization of a company shows the number of money people spend on shares worldwide. This shows if it is a good company because other people are buying it too. Lastly, company news shows all the data about a company and its news and how much it has grown or lost in current times.

A Successful Portfolio

I used Investopedia education and a simulator to learn about successful portfolio management for me. A successful or optimal portfolio mix is based on an investor’s age or risk appetite. Younger investors can invest in more stocks and fewer mutual funds and bonds as they can take more risks at a younger age. Older investors prefer bonds that are safer but have less growth. If they buy stocks that fail then they will lose lots of money and won’t have lots of time to recover it. All other investors prefer to be somewhere in the middle as per their risk-taking ability.

The Right Portfolio For You

I chose the aggressive portfolio using the Investopedia simulator and Yahoo! Finance to buy [TSLA], [AMZN], [FXAIX], [ SPY], [AAPL], and [SBUX]. Since I’m very young I can invest more in stocks and benefit from compounding interest. As I grow older, I will start investing in bonds and mutual funds to make my portfolio more conservative and not lose money before I need it most. Research tools help me simulate my future growth using various portfolio options.

Long-Term Index Investments

The best way to invest in the stock market for the long term is through an index fund as it is not dependent on specific stocks or sectors but instead counts on the overall stock market. This allows diversification across the sectors which offers more safety if one sector fails. If you continue investing in the same index fund it allows for dollar cost averaging. The compound interest does wander the longer the period of investment.


For a good portfolio, the right mix of stocks and bonds is important, and this is dependent on investors' age or risk-taking ability. When you are young you can invest more in stocks but as you grow older you can change the mix more toward bonds. Diversification is also very important, starting early and investing regularly in index funds can offer very good long-term growth using compounding interest and dollar-cost averaging.

Winning Essay by Meghan Lim …

When investing in the stock market there are many things to consider: Is this sustainable for the future? How much am I willing to invest? What am I willing to risk? All of these questions don’t have one set answer. After all, there is a lot involved in the stock market. You could invest in stocks, mutual funds, or bonds. 

Investing in the stock market is like gambling: You put your money in without knowing what you will get out of it. To make safe decisions, something you would need to do first is research.

One thing you can invest in within the stock market is stocks. A website recommended for researching stocks is Yahoo! Finance. On this website you can view a company’s portfolio, the market it is available in, and other information regarding the company. Of that information the ones I would consider the most important are the 52-week range, ticker symbol, and market it is available in. Each of these factors is important for choosing which stocks to invest in in the long run and diversifying your portfolio. The 52-week range shows the stocks of a company at their lowest and highest within 52 weeks or one year. This helps show how the stocks have changed in the year. By seeing the stocks at their lowest and highest, you can decide whether investing in them would be a risk. The higher the range, the higher the risk. However, a wild range could also mean people were very involved with the company, whether that be positively or negatively. The ticker symbol of a company is a unique code associated with the company. The ticker symbol is what you use to purchase stocks. Without a ticker symbol, you can’t invest in stocks. Knowing what market a stock is in is really important. If you are investing in a certain market, you can’t purchase stocks that are only found in other markets. In The Stock Market Game, you can invest in stocks found on the Nasdaq and NYSE markets. If you want to do more research, you should visit the company’s website. 

Another thing you can invest in in the stock market is bonds. Two websites that are good for researching bonds are and Bonds are loans from companies that are paid back after a certain period. Before that time comes, the buyer receives interest from the bond. There are three main types of bonds: corporate, government (treasury), and municipal bonds. Corporate and

municipal bonds must be purchased in $1000 increments while treasury bonds must be purchased in $100 increments. Bonds are used to support governments and corporations to raise money. This means bonds don’t grant you ownership from the issuer. When researching bonds, the things you should look at are the CUSIP number, maturity date, face/par value, and coupon rate. The CUSIP number is needed so you can purchase the bond. The maturity date is important because it lets you know when you will be paid back. The face/par value is how much you will be paying upfront, so it lets you know how much money you will be spending. Lastly, the coupon rate is needed so you can see how much you will be getting back before the maturity date. 

The last thing you can invest in the stock market is mutual funds. A website recommended for researching mutual funds is Yahoo! Finance. A mutual fund is multiple things grouped to be purchased in one go. Like bonds, mutual funds do not grant you any ownership to the issuer. The things you should focus on when doing research for mutual funds are the Morningstar rating and ticker symbol. The ticker symbol is needed so you can find the CUSIP number to purchase the mutual fund. The Morningstar rating shows whether or not the mutual fund is worth it. The higher the rating, the better it is for the price. 

There are many things people can invest in for long-term investments. A company’s stock I recommend for the long run is Apple (APPL). Apple is a well-known company, but the likelihood of Apple going into bankruptcy is unlikely. The 52-week range of Apple isn’t as high as other well-known companies such as Hershey and Disney. From this we know it won’t be as much of a risk to invest in Apple as other companies. A bond I recommend is a US treasury bond, CUSIP:912810SX7. This bond’s maturity date is 5/15/2051, which is quite some time from now. Since it is a treasury bond, it will be bought in increments of $100. It is much safer to invest in a treasury bond than a different bond. A mutual fund I recommend is the American Balanced Fund, Ticker: RLBGX. This mutual fund has a Morningstar rating of five, which means it is worth the cost. 

In short, to invest long-term in the stock market, research is needed first. What you are willing to do depends on how much you are willing to risk. The things you would need to research for stocks, bonds, and mutual funds are all different. However, all research is important to invest safely.