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Teenager starts non-profit to teach kids how to invest

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Youth Investors Corp President and CEO Dylan Jin-Ngo joins Yahoo Finance’s Ines Ferre to discuss starting his own non-profit organization to teach financial literacy to young adults, and how the next generation of investors is thinking about the stock market.

Video Transcript

INES FERRE: Dylan, thanks so much for joining us. So you're 17 years old. You started a nonprofit, and you're teaching kids about the stock market. How did this all happen?

DYLAN JIN-NGO: Well, thank you so much for having me, Ines. So how I started this whole journey was around-- in my sixth grade year. My aunt gave me my first stock certificate. It was a sh-- only those paper certificates in Sony. And I was holding it, and I thought it was the most incredible thing. I had no idea what the stock market was, what the economy was, let-- let alone how to invest.

And I just really thought that being able to invest without a barr-- without my age being a barrier was something so unique. And I think-- what I thought at the time was, the stock market must be this great equalizer. And I really wanted to learn. Unfortunately, my parents don't own any stocks. They're not really too-- too keen and too versed in that field. And so I really had to learn on my own.

I looked for a variety of investment courses, but they're all very expensive and very limited. So I kind of learned on my own for the past three years, three or four years. And then I became the youngest certified mutual fund counselor in the nation in 2020.

INES FERRE: And so what does your curriculum look like? How many kids have you guys taught?

DYLAN JIN-NGO: So I originally started off in the summer of 2020 with only 20 kids and one partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Huntington Valley. Now, we have over 350 students. And we partnered with nine clubs throughout Los Angeles and in Orange County.

INES FERRE: And what are some of the most common questions that you get? I mean, I must think that GameStop, AMC, how do I invest in the stock market, Robinhood-- I must guess that a lot of those questions are what kids nowadays are talking about.

DYLAN JIN-NGO: Exactly. So you can see throughout our five week program, it shifts from questions like, what about-- Dylan, what do you think about AMC? Dylan, what do you think about Bitcoin? And towards the end, they start shifting to more about, how can I get my own stock portfolio? How can I talk to my parents about opening my own brokerage account? And I think that really shows their growing interest throughout our program in really wanting to participate in the market and being able to apply what they learn throughout our program into a real life scenario.

INES FERRE: And what do you tell kids-- I mean, you see what's happened with meme stocks. You see how volatile cryptocurrency is. What's your advice?

DYLAN JIN-NGO: Well, as you can see today, Ethereum dropped from 12% and Bitcoin jumped around 9%. And what I tell my students when they ask me this question, is you only want to put whatever you're willing to lose. I'm a stock guy. I teach our students almost entirely about stocks and how to invest in that security and that asset.

But I do-- I never discourage cryptocurrency. I think it's a very unique, very unique asset. And I'm-- of course, I'm all for having them learn more about it. We do-- if they are interested, we have a little session, separately for them.

But mainly, I say only put what you're willing to lose. I think there's potential-- there is an incredible upside to it. But I think, as I say-- said before, only put what you're willing to lose.

INES FERRE: So you've been interested in this since sixth grade. So you've obviously also seen the changes with the market since then. You saw what happened during the pandemic. How do you think that trading has changed, especially for retail traders over the last year?

DYLAN JIN-NGO: I think with this last year has really taught retail traders-- and just in general, the investment market-- I think are really-- the past year showed us how exact-- how powerful the Federal Reserve really can actually be in really affecting the marketplace. I think the injection of money that we currently have in our economy is something that, yes, has enabled us to really receive very nice results in the past year, both in the stock market and in the housing market.

But I say, potentially for retail traders, is to really be more wary, especially heading over in the next year, really being more careful about our investments. Because I think with this whole influx of money and change, a lot of potential unknowns that we have going on is really something that can occur.

INES FERRE: And how do you think that the whole crypto sort of talk-- let's say Elon Musk tweeting about Bitcoin or Dogecoin-- how do you think that people like that have sort of influenced or sort of shaped the narrative around cryptocurrency and-- and the interest from retail traders and young people also?

DYLAN JIN-NGO: I think this whole new dynamic that comes with cryptocurrency, younger traders, retail traders, and big celebrities and businessmen like Elon Musk who are really shaping this whole new field and marketplace is something that-- it's unprecedented, and it's something that's really revolutionary. In terms of what I personally feel, I think-- I think it's so incredible that a single individual has so much power over a marketplace, over a cryptocurrency such as Dogecoin.

You can see how much of an effect he really has when he shoots out a tweet or when he, for example, offered the possibility of using Bitcoin to actually pay for Tesla and then actually revoking that later on. You can see how that actually affected the marketplace with cryptocurrency. In terms-- so it's something that's very-- it's uncharted territory. I know the government's really debating on how to address this properly with new regulations.

But I think it's something that, as we're really going on forward towards this new, I think, future, I think there's a lot of questions that need to be asked and really looking more towards at what we can do to make cryptocurrency market a lot safer and a lot more safer for our consumers.

INES FERRE: So let's go over a couple of your favorite holdings. I mean, this isn't advice or anything like that for traders. But what do you-- what do you like in the market? Which are some of your favorite stocks? Which are some of your favorite cryptocurrencies?

DYLAN JIN-NGO: In terms of the stocks that I look at, I have-- my portfolio is a mix of growth and value stocks. But in particular, I was-- last year, I was a really big fan of emerging markets, particularly in China. Of course, I've been reducing my positions in those drastically because obviously, the new influx of regulation that China has been really cracking down on. But various funds, mutual funds, in emerging markets like China is what I-- we were heavily invested in back in 2020.

Now, we're also looking at new technology that really has strong value in their company. One of my favorite companies is INMD, which is InMode, which is an Israeli based company focusing on technology for kind of cosmetic procedures. They have an incredible valuation and incredible balance sheet. And I think something-- and with that, the new technology and a new field, I think they have a lot of potential.

INES FERRE: Talk to us a little bit about this bill that you are helping to shape up with one of your local congressmen in California. What are you pushing for in public schools when it comes to financial literacy?

DYLAN JIN-NGO: So I think financial literacy-- and this is really where my whole journey started here-- is something that should not be limited by socioeconomic status or opportunity. I think something financial literacy, which is so critical in shaping a youth's future, is something that should be widely available to everyone.

So my work with Randy Voepel, Assemblyman Randy Voepel, in the California legislature on AB 423 is to introduce a pilot program in California through the State Department of Education that will allow public schools and charter schools in California to implement a financial literacy pilot program into their curriculum, high school curriculum, and really be able to teach their students about the investment market and about the importance of making sure you know how to deal with your finances in the future. But I think that's the main goal, and that's what we're really pushing for right now.

INES FERRE: And lastly, do you think that this trend that we've seen with retail trend-- with retail trading and with young people really being interested in trading, do you think it's here to stay and why?

DYLAN JIN-NGO: I definitely think that this-- this dynamic of youth being involved in the stock market and investment world is here to stay, largely because of the new technology and the new kind of brokerage firms that really have been indenting the marketplace. You saw how revolutionary Robinhood was when they introduced something called no fee, or no-- no commission trading. And you can see how a bunch of other brokerage firms followed suit after that.

And I think this new-- all these new types of technology, especially with Fintech, with-- that are really trying to lull this huge group-- and this huge group of investors, it's a huge part of our population-- into the investment world, is something that we'll continue to see and really leverage a lot more power and influence in the next few years.

INES FERRE: All right. Thanks so much, Dylan. We really appreciate you being on Yahoo Finance.

DYLAN JIN-NGO: Well, thank you so much for having me.