For some, the stock market represents a secretive world of undecipherable terms, a place only for high rollers or something akin to a trip to the casino.
But White Plains native and equity research associate Nicolette DiMaggio is hoping to change some of that fear and hesitancy. And she’s looking to start off with the investors of tomorrow.
DiMaggio has released her first book titled “Stock Explore,” a children’s book with the goal of reaching kids as young as seven years old to help them understand the basics of the stock market and investing.
“The whole focus of ‘Stock Explore’ is specifically on stocks and understanding what a stock is and what an investment means and the qualities of a stock,” DiMaggio said. “So that’s my first book, focusing in on stocks. That’s a huge universe in the investment industry.”
The story centers on Elle, a seven-year-old girl who is learning about her first stock. She acquires five superpowers, based on Porter’s five forces for analyzing businesses, with the help of an owl. Each superpower teaches Elle principles of financial literacy.
With only a few states mandating any type of financial literacy into their schools’ curriculum, DiMaggio said many children are missing out on being introduced to and learning about the subject during their formative years. Childhood is the right time to have them take on the subject matter rather than waiting until after they’ve graduated college and have their first job, she said.
“The biggest thing for me when I started writing my book is going back to the basics of how kids think,” said DiMaggio, a White Plains High School graduate who now lives in Stamford and works for Willis Towers Watson. “You’re curious, you want to explore new things and that’s really what stock research or investment research is, constantly looking into new stocks and figuring out if we can invest in something and whether you should invest in something.”
The idea for the book arose a few years ago while DiMaggio was sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic in the Lincoln Tunnel. Crawling along, she wrote much of the story into her iPhone, then saved it, but didn’t do anything with it for a couple of years.
After the pandemic struck and DiMaggio was working from home, she explored the feasibility of having it published.
She hired an editor and an illustrator, consulted her mother, a kindergarten teacher, to make it appropriate for children, then gave it to her grandmother and her friends to read, before pitching it to publishing companies. Some thought it was interesting but would likely have limited appeal.
So DiMaggio decided to self-publish. It was ready by October.
She suggests that to gauge a child’s potential interest, first see how curious they are and if they are open to exploring what the markets are about. If you have their attention, then have them look into the types of companies and products that might interest them or that they use. If they remain engaged, a parent can help them understand the characteristics and qualities of the company and what might make it successful.
If a parent is an investor, after a while they can perhaps make small purchases in a custodial account.
For DiMaggio, it was her maternal grandfather who piqued her interest in the investment world. A retired accountant, he always enjoyed following and investing in the market and was an avid reader of The Wall Street Journal,
Since she spent a lot of time with him, getting driven to or picked at school when she was young, DiMaggio found herself naturally gravitating to his interests, including the market.
Her first stock purchases were, at 18 years old, Apple and IBM. DiMaggio was soon on her way to Siena College where she was a finance major, one of the few women in that course of study.
A common misconception about the stock market, she said, is that you have to be good at math. If you can master fourth-grade math and are strong at division, then you those are the requisite math skills, DiMaggio said.
Today, with the internet, people can go online and research the common terms used in the industry and look up brokerage firms that have little or no fees. At some point, DiMaggio said, the stock market affects everyone.
“Just being open to being curious and asking questions,” she said. “In my book, Elle is constantly asking questions, and someone is helping her answer them.”
“Stock Explore” can be purchased at Barnes & Noble, through Amazon and on DiMaggio’s website, www.stock-explore.com.
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/