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ND student wins UpDown contest

Justin Tardiff | Friday, September 12, 2008

Even in today’s unstable economy, there is one young man on campus who mastered the ever-fluctuating stock market – senior finance major, Yowceph Haddad.

Haddad defeated 6,146 students from across the nation to win the UpDown.com Summer 2008 $10,000 Student Contest.

Not only did Haddad defeat the competition, he “blew everyone else away,” according to Notre Dame senior Brendan McManus.

McManus, an economics major, participated in a launch team that helped start the Web site, which, he said, is considered “the leading social platform for virtual investing.”

It gives its members $1 million in virtual money to invest. Members can interact with each other, collaborating, sharing advice and competing to manage their virtual portfolios more effectively and improve their skills. The site is not just for experts, McManus said.

“Anyone can join, it’s completely free,” he said. “You can earn real money with zero risk, which is one reason why it’s so popular.”

The contest Haddad won, which ran from June 9 to Aug. 29, entailed managing a virtual portfolio, investing $1 million in virtual money. Despite competition from students at over 1,069 colleges and universities including Harvard, Yale and Columbia University, Haddad came out on top, managing his portfolio to a 216.67 percent return, beating the second place finisher by over 80 percent.

“The real question is: ‘Can he do it consistently?’ When investing in the stock market over a short-term period, luck is going to play a significant role in the outcome,” finance professor Carl Ackermann said.

Regardless, beating the stock market is no easy feat, especially in our current economic position, Ackermann said.

“The stock market has really struggled in recent months,” he said. “There are a lot of reasons for that, particularly in the financial sector.”

Ackermann describes Haddad as possessing a capacity for deep thinking he considers “off the charts.” Despite market volatility and the role that luck plays in investing, he gives Haddad a vote of confidence for the future, saying “this young man is an intellectual giant.”

Haddad became involved with UpDown.com at the start of the spring semester and decided to enter the competition over the summer.

“Given the length of the competition, it rewards those who don’t invest as much as they trade,” Haddad said. To manage his portfolio successfully Haddad had to pay close attention to the news and market trends, especially during the day, “and of course, catch a break or two,” he said.

While the summer contest Haddad won allowed only students to participate, he has recently climbed to second place in a new contest, which is open to all members of the UpDown community. He has also broken away from exclusively virtual investment and trading, and started to test his skills in the real market. Looking ahead to the future, Haddad has planned to find a career in Investment banking, however taking into account his recent success, he is now looking into trading or hedge funds as well.

“It all depends on who’s hiring,” he said.