Steven Wheeler is Director of Archives, Corporate Giving and Education for the Corporate Responsibility Group of NYSE Euronext.
It’s Financial Literacy Week and so the NYSE is celebrating many programs and partners that prepare people for successful financial futures. Here’s a look back to a public education program of 50+ years ago that helped create a new class of American investors.
In 1954 the NYSE launched a new educational and advertising campaign aimed at expanding public participation in the stock market. Under the theme “Own Your Share of American Business,” the program outlined the benefits of saving for the future and taught Americans how to be an informed and responsible investor.
The campaign included advertisements like these in national media, informational pamphlets, short films, an investor’s magazine, and a new investment vehicle called the Monthly Investment Plan which enabled investors to purchase common stock through small monthly payments.
Certainly there’s some “Mad Men” marketing going on, but an awful lot of education too. The program stressed the importance of investing only after you’ve taken care of necessary expenses, knowing that stock prices can go down as well as up, and the benefits of using a reputable stockbroker and avoiding “hot tips” – still good advice to keep in mind before you invest today.
The “Own Your Share of American Business” campaign ran through the late 1960s. During the same time shareownership in the U.S. increased from 6.5 million people in 1952 to over 30 million by 1970.