Spring 2024 is already upon us – here at StockTrak we’ve been hard at work bringing the latest and greatest improvements for classes in the new year!
Our first major change is coming to our cryptocurrency trading pit. For the last several years, we have supported open trading of every “coin” under the sun, but this Spring trading will be limited to only the top 100 cryptocurrencies (by USD capitalization). We are making this change for two reasons:
- By limiting the number of symbols in the system, we are able to drastically improve the speed at which prices update in our system. Previously there were delays for up to 30 minutes for some symbols – now all prices for cryptocurrencies will be updated every 15 seconds.
- Our new system and crypto price feeds allow far more data per symbol, on-par with our offerings for US equities. This includes daily volume, day’s high/lows, and day’s change, which previously were absent from our cryptocurrency trading.
Our list of available cryptocurrencies will be updated each semester to reflect changing market conditions.
As we continue to improve our Option Spreads offerings, this spring will have a minor update to our margin requirements for options. This change is unlikely to be a game-changer for most classes, but will bring the StockTrak margin calculations in-line with brokerage standards for both naked options and all of our supported spreads.
Support Ticket Update
StockTrak prides itself on excellent customer service, including our Live Chat during market hours and email support ticket system. Starting this Spring, students can also submit and manage their support tickets directly through their Messaging Center at the top of each page to see a full history of any support tickets they have submitted, with our team’s responses.
This also means that students who had a typo in their email address when registering, or entered no email address at all, will have improved access to our support system and on-site notifications for any replies to tickets they have submitted – and fewer emails to their professors about questions regarding StockTrak.
Fractional Trading Support
Starting this Spring, professors will have the option when creating their class to allow fractional trades for equities (stocks and ETFs). This allows classes to give students much smaller pools of starting cash to be more realistic for personal investing right out of school, while still allowing a fully-diversified portfolio.
For schools that use our White-Label solution for their trading rooms, we have more enhancements for the Spring as well.
This includes more customization for your registration confirmation emails for students, the ability to have multiple registration paths – in cases where your school also has special events, like high school recruitment challenges or campus-wide investing competitions that may need different registration information than a regular student. Registration flows can also be modified on-the-fly by your account manager in case last-minute changes are needed.
Ability To Disable Rankings
Class Rankings have historically been an integral part of keeping students engaged in their portfolios, but some schools have expressed reservations that some students become overly competitive, or it distracts from the focus of building their own team portfolio.
With this in mind, starting this Spring professors will have the ability to disable the rankings for their classes – students will only be able to see their own performance (and not relative to the class as a whole). This setting is not part of the standard class creation flow, but can be toggled at any time by our support team by using our Live Chat.
Budget Game – International Mode
For schools using our Budgeting Game for personal finance classes, we are introducing a new “Region” setting to the budget game. This allows professors outside the United States to have an experience more in-line with the realities of their location. For Spring 2024, we are including Canada (outside of Quebec), Canada (Quebec), Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Mexico as other regions.
Regional selections impacts the prices for all events in the game (based on the real-time FX rates from our existing prices in USD), withholdings on the user’s paycheck/paycheque (including the spelling of “Paycheck/Paycheque”), default income tax rates, and variations on some of the built-in lessons (replacing our existing “Sales Tax” lesson with a lesson on “VAT”, for example).
Budget Game – User Feedback
Professors using StockTrak in a Personal Finance class also will find we have enhanced our feedback to students as they play through our new Feedback Module, as part of our enhanced Summary Report.
The Feedback Module has 6 components:
The General Stats shows some of the same information that students see in the “ribbon” at the top of the budget game itself.
What is new here is their total “bonus points” (points they earned from hitting monthly savings goals and building their emergency fund), plus a gauge indicator for their credit score.
“Quick Stats” is more about what students have accomplished financially through the whole game, in terms of big metrics that can really make-or-break their financial future.
- “Bills Paid On Time” is how many total bills they recieved that were paid on or before their due date.
- “Total Late Fees” is the total amount of money they paid out in late fee penalties through the game.
- “Total Interest Changed” is the total amount of interest payments they have made on their credit card through the entire game.
- “Total Interest Earned” is the total amount of interest earned on their savings account throughout the game.
Savings Goals looks at how many months the student has played the game, and how often they set, and hit, achievable savings goals.
The system provides personalized feedback based on areas of improvement – particularly if they need to be more aggressive or more conservative with their goals, and tips on how to do better in the future.
One of the primary objectives of the budget game is for students to understand the importance of building an Emergency Fund. If students had not yet saved up a $1,000 cushion, the system will give them a reminder of how important this is, and to focus on building that safety net in the future.
Credit Score Feedback is based on how many total credit score points a student could have earned so far in the game, and gives them tips on what they can to to continue to improve in the future.
For example, this “555” credit score is after having played 3 months of the game (where students start with 450, this student has already improved their score by over 100 points), saying there has been an excellent use of credit. However, if after 5 or 6 months, the credit score has not continued to improve, the feedback would give specific examples of what steps they need to take to do better going forward.
Last, students get a polar area chart of how they have chosen to spend their weekends throughout the game so far, so they can visualize how they have been spending their time.
The system also gives them personalized feedback in each of the 4 categories, outlining how they use their “free time” is likely to impact their personal finances in the real world.
We have a full roadmap ahead of additional features we will be rolling out over the course of the Spring semester as well. This includes enhanced support for splits on Options, new automated buyouts/spin-offs, SSO/Rostering support with various LMS systems (for schools with a site license), updates to our Mobile App, improvements to our built-in Symbol Lookup for equities and options, and additional PDF exports for various statements and summaries in our Budgeting Game.
We hope you are excited as we are to roll in this Spring! If you have any feedback or suggestions for future improvements, feel free to let me know directly at firstname.lastname@example.org!
-Kevin Smith, StockTrak Director of Product Development