The Cambridge Program 2023


After a three-year hiatus due to COVID, we have just celebrated our 12th education program at Clare College Cambridge. This was one of the best and most enthusiastic classes of students yet! Twenty young minds attended from Florida to Ohio, and as far away as Sri Lanka. They came from varied backgrounds. This was the first time outside the USA for several participants.

The Cambridge Program is a one-week summer course on “Money & Responsibility.” The Program includes topics I have covered for over 25 years, plus a variety of subjects addressed by professors from Cambridge University. These subjects ranged from “My Neurons Made Me Do It” to understanding artificial intelligence and its potential impact on the world. We also addressed ESG investing this year as well as how Romans approached ‘risk’ in ancient times.

This year we were fortunate to have a talk from Sir Laurie Bristow, former British ambassador to Russia, who provided an inside perspective on the war in Ukraine as well as what it was like to interact with Vladimir Putin. For obvious reasons, we agreed not to print any of his off-the-cuff remarks but suffice it to say the students were on the edge of their seats.

The main motivation for this course was my frustration with the lack of ‘strategic thinking’ among some investors, who were more focused on short-term gains than long-term strategy. This short-term focus often ignored the importance of building wealth across family generations and raising children who understood the “mathematics of money” and the responsibility of those to whom much is given. The lack of basic education in simple financial matters within the school systems was another catalyst for developing the course. This has not improved and reinforces the continuing need to teach subjects that address how to manage money.

We cover subjects such as the power of compounding, the impact of taxes and inflation, the benefits of long-term thinking, budgeting, and building a sound investment portfolio. We also address how media hype can distract from successful investment performance, how and where stocks trade, and some of the factors affecting equity market performance. One of the students’ favorite subjects this year was simply covering what it takes to open an account, transfer funds, and make an investment.

It was gratifying to see the group making new friendships and the excitement that came from exploring new ideas and concepts. Cambridge University is an ideal place for fertile young minds to develop. We stayed and dined at Clare College which was founded in 1326 and is the second-oldest college in Cambridge.

Much like Palo Alto’s association with Stanford, Cambridge has become one of the most important technology centers in Europe. It is also central to the development of the Human Genome Project. The University provides a stimulating place for those at the forefront of research in science and technology – and an outstanding environment in which young people can reflect on key financial topics and matters of significance to our future.

Nick Hoffman