The new entity is to be known as ifsProShare and its activities will be integrated into the ifsâ faculty structure. A new faculty will be created to oversee non-school activities, employee share ownership and private investor services, and the plan is to widen the corporate involvement in these activities. The schools games and educational programmes will be merged into the ifsâ current â14-19 Education Facultyâ.
Since it pioneered the linking of a professional qualification with a university degree some 10 years ago, the ifs has continued to diversify its remit. It now offers structured education programmes and bespoke learning solutions right across the sector and at all different levels of expertise and specialization.
ProShareâs activities fit these developments perfectly. Created 12 years ago with funding from the Treasury, the DTI and the London Stock Exchange plus many of the countryâs leading companies, ProShareâs raison dâetre was to educate the public at large, both individual and corporate, about equity markets, share ownership and how this could link into corporate reward and financial participation programmes.
Employee share ownership has been at the heart of ProShare from the outset, fostered through a variety of activities such as conferences, seminars, focus groups, training courses, research projects and business breakfasts. Guidance notes and information packs were developed and a website created. Similarly with services for private investors in general ifsProshare will look at providing services to help inform individual investors. All these activities will be enhanced and developed, especially by integrating many of them into the ifsâ new electronic library and information services, ifs KnowledgeBank. This in turn will generate further information and services such as regular email newsletters linked to news and latest developments, both legal and market.
ProShare also runs an extensive school programme with education packs and four games, the main one being the key investment game, the ProShare Student Investor Portfolio Challenge. Currently there are 30,000 school students in nearly 900 schools pitting their skills and judgements in the market using live real data provided by Bloomberg to find out who can build the most impressive portfolio. They all play to get into the final, which is then fought by a small number of teams with the prize of a trip to New York for the winners.
The other popular competitions for schools include the Young ProShare Forecast Challenge, ProShare's Online Trader of the Year and the ProShare Forecast Challenge. Another important activity that will mesh well with the ifsâ school education agenda is ProShareâs âYour Money â Be Wiseâ, a flexible and extensive set of materials that helps teachers cover many of the key subjects related to money management, including investment and financial planning. These materials are currently being used in some 3,000 schools in the 14-16 age range. In time it is the ifsâ intention to link these materials to its qualifications at this level.
Gavin Shreeve, ifs chief executive, said: "This is a huge and exciting step for the ifs. By building on the existing ProShare work around market understanding and participation, ifs will be able to widen and deepen the financial educational offering through its ever-expanding electronic information service, ifs KnowledgeBank. The acquisition also positions the ifs as the largest provider of financial capability education in the countryâs schools and colleges."
Michael Savory, Chairman of ProShare said that the board of ProShare unanimously believes that this exciting change is in the best interests of the wider share ownership movement. "The ifs brings its strong reputation for excellence and drive, and good scale economies, to driving ProShareâs mission forward into the next phase of development."