The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is irrefutably damaging the Irish economy, with businesses closing temporarily and hundreds of thousands unemployed. Despite this, the current environment is ripe with opportunities for financial gain, and Ireland’s top business leaders are cashing in, and so can you.
If we analyse the Irish Stock Exchange, it’s immediately evident that share prices haven’t been this low since the economic crash of 2008. Naturally, this is worrisome, particularly for those with investments in Irish companies. Many investors will panic and try to cut their losses by selling off their shares at below-value prices. Some investors, especially value investors (like Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger), view the current climate as a ‘sale’, where shares in companies are being sold at discount prices due to peoples’ irrational behaviours. Some of Ireland’s brightest and most accomplished business people, as well as some astute investment firms, are snapping up Irish stocks at rock-bottom prices.
Most notably, Bank of Ireland (BOI) Group CEO Francesca McDonagh acquired an additional 2,000 shares at €1.689 in BOI in late March. For context, BOI’s share price has never in history been below €2.00. Other senior BOI and AIB members have also participated in the trend. Leading Irish companies such as Ryanair, Glenveagh Properties PLC and Greencoat Renewables also saw a slice of action from investors.
Why am I writing about this subject in a college newspaper, where students prefer to spend money on more exciting things (like cans and entry fees to clubs) and are typically not overly interested in parting ways with hard-earned cash in favour of investing? Well, most of us find ourselves at home with more free time than usual right now due to non-existent commutes, extensions of college deadlines and less time spent in classes. Instead of scrolling monotonously through social media or mindlessly watching Netflix shows we don’t even enjoy, I thought now more than ever could be an opportune time for students to dip their toes in the stock market. Why not use that money you typically spend on a coffee every day to buy a share or two in an Irish company instead, and familiarise yourself with the research, documents and process necessary to make an informed investment. Platforms like Degiro and Trading 212 make it simple and remove the hassle (and exorbitant fees) associated with traditional brokers. If you aren’t financially positioned to invest, or are uncomfortable doing so right now, these platforms offer simulators, which allows you to get experience without actually investing any money.
I’m no financial advisor (so don’t take anything I just said for granted!), but many factors seem to be lining up which make for a good time to, at a minimum, acclimatise oneself with investing. Whether you’re bored, self-isolating or ignoring your college work, why not consider the idea; who knows where it may lead you.
Alex Lohier – Deputy Editor