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And the children will teach: by introducing her daughter to investing, Ann McNeill has created a budding financial guru. (Black Wealth Initiative).

AT AGE 15, IONNIE McNEILL IS A SHREWD INVESTOR. Before she was old enough to talk, Ionnie tagged along with her mother, Ann McNeill, to weekly investment meetings given by the National Association of Investors Corp. (NAIC) and the Mastermind Women Investment Club, where they would set a particular goal and then discuss their progress at the meetings. "When Ionnie became old enough to read and write, she would sit there and map out her own goals," recalls Ann. Then, at age 7, she joined the Future Investors of America youth investment group. The young investor has been hooked ever since.

"During the first meeting, the [moderator] explained that buying stock would be like owning a piece of the company," Ionnie remembers. "He used McDonald's as an example--when you're [7 years old], you feel important knowing you [can] own a share of McDonald's." Her first stock purchase was 10 shares of Citrix Systems Inc.

Today, the high school freshman owns shares of several companies including Nike Inc., Kellogg Co., Pfizer Inc., and The Home Depot Inc. Instead of giving her high school friends "frivolous" birthday and Christmas gifts, she buys them shares of stock. The young McNeill has become so adept at investing that she was asked to lead a seminar for teens last fall by the NAIC. "I introduced the lingo to them: things like PE [price-to-earnings] ratio, what a stock is, and I talked about the NAIC low-cost investment plan to get them started," she explains.

Ann, who is CEO of MCO Construction Co. in Miami, says that Ionnie's knowledge increased as she herself learned more about investing. When Ann bought stock-tracking software four years ago, Ionnie was actually the one to use it. The process helped expand her expertise beyond buying stock to following a company's performance.

Ann cites an incident when Ionnie was 12 and attended a youth investing seminar in Philadelphia sponsored by Yum! Brands, the parent company of Kentucky Fried Chicken. At the end of the session, she was the only youth to ask a question. "There was a rumor circulating that KFC was using artificial chicken," recalls Ann, "and Ionnie asked what they were doing to counteract the impact that this was having on their stock. I don't remember what the response was, but the blood drained out of [the moderator's] face!"

Ionnie plans to work at her mother's company during the summer, earning money to contribute annually to a Roth IRA (currently valued at $3,000). The savvy teen's early introduction to investing demonstrates the power of DOFE principle No. 6: to teach business and financial principles to my children. Here are some simple steps parents can use to help children develop money management and investment skills:


Ionnie's parents began by instilling some basic financial principles, such as saving money, before making the leap to investing. "My husband, Daniel, is very frugal, so Ionnie's big on saving because of him," says Ann. As a young child, Ionnie saved coins in a piggy bank and put away birthday money in a savings account. She would eventually use this money to buy stocks.


Children are more likely to take an interest in investing in companies for which they have some affinity. "I first bought Nike because I was always wearing Nike shoes," Ionnie says. The Limited stores which sell women's and men's apparel, and Wendy's were other favorite picks because they sold products that she used.


Dividend Reinvestment Plans (DRIPs) are programs that allow individuals to purchase stock directly from the company. Instead of the corporation paying out its regular dividend in the form of cash to its shareholders, the proceeds are used to purchase additional shares. Ann says using DRIPs allows children to purchase a single share of stock and makes the process of tracking a stock easier. For more information, check out the newsletter DRIP Investor at www.dripin or call 800-233-5922. Also, visit the archives section at


For starters, check out Black Enterprise's Teenpreneur magazine for information on saving and investing for teens or go online at www.blackenterprise .com/teenpreneur. Also, Young Money Matters (877-275-6242; investing/70.html) is a NAIC newsletter featuring real-life stories of young investors, education exercises, and money concept games.


There are dozens of camps around the country that teach kids how to invest. One worth considering is YoungBiz Better Investing Camps (888-543-7929; Summer camps are held in several select cities each year and are designed to teach kids how to handle their finances and invest in the stock market.

Declaration Of Financial Empowerment

From this day forward, I declare my vigilant and lifelong commitment to financial empowerment. I pledge the following:

1 To save and invest 10% to 15% of my after-tax income

2 To be a proactive and informed investor

3 To be a disciplined and knowledgeable consumer

4 To measure my personal wealth by net worth, not income

5 To engage in sound budget, credit, and tax management practices

6 To teach business and financial principles to my children

7 To use a portion of my personal wealth to strengthen my community

8 To support the creation and growth of profitable, competitive, black-owned enterprises

9 To maximize my earning power through a commitment to career development, technological literacy, and professional excellence

10 To ensure that my wealth is passed on to future generations
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Author:Armstrong, Lisa
Publication:Black Enterprise
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2003
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