Brandon and his crew are hardly the first teenage market junkies to come along, but their story suggests that some child investors are now hitting a new level of sophistication, and, sometimes, obsession. Brandon has taken on many of the conventions of a professional investment fund. He and his staff are raising money from outside investors, developing relationships with companies, and even speaking up at shareholder meetings. He even shorted some stocks right before a February stock-market decline.
Brandon got the idea to start the fund in November when he took a financial-literacy course. As part of the program, he and other students had to develop their own business plans. One student wanted to open a skateboard shop. Brandon, who became interested in markets with a virtual-reality game called Neopets and was setting up mock stock portfolios by the age of 12, wanted to start his own investment fund. "It blew me away," says Jay Ellis, a regional manager of Washington Mutual in Manhattan and the course instructor.