Most people receive their financial education the hard way: by learning how not to do things. Since 1997, Online Trading Academy has been working to change people’s understanding of the financial world and has built a solid foundation of franchisees and instructors who want to make a positive impact on people’s lives.
Eyal Shahar founded the Irvine, Calif.-based company 21 years ago. It became one of the largest trading floors in the United States with 180 traders averaging half-a-billion dollars in daily transactions. Managers and the top traders offered daily coaching sessions in how to trade more consistently and profitably.
“Ten years earlier and after his tour in the Israeli Air Force ended, Eyal traveled the world and flew to Hong Kong where he called his dad for more money, but Eyal had none left for his dad to send,” COO Gene Longobardi says. “While he was traveling the world, the Israeli stock market tanked and the stocks of the ‘safe’ companies were taken over by the Israeli government. That lit a fire in him and he vowed this would never happen to him again and he wanted to make sure it would never happen to anyone else he knew, which was the original spark that later became Online Trading Academy.”
Today, Online Trading Academy focuses solely on education with a community of more than 50,000 investors who have learned to trade with the skill and confidence of professional traders. The company offers instruction at its 42 state-of-the-art teaching facilities around the world, as well as with an array of online education and resources. “We want people to take control of their financial future, but they can’t do it by watching YouTube videos or reading books and websites, because it’s about acquiring a skill,” Longobardi admits. “There’s a lot to learn and you learn by doing.”
Making a Difference
Online Trading Academy offers franchisees the opportunity to not only make a profit, but also change people’s lives. “Any time you are working with someone’s finances or investments, that’s life-altering stuff,” Longobardi says. “We attract employees and franchisees who have a heart for people and want to make a difference. We are enriching lives worldwide in trading and education.”
Prospective students are encouraged to get to know the company before they invest in tuition programs and to understand their “why” for joining. “This is not a get-rich-quick scheme,” Longobardi says. “And if it’s just about making money because you want to feed your ego then you aren’t right for the academy.”
About 12 owners in the Online Trading Academy franchise system started out as students as well as more than half of its 120 instructors. Franchisees do not have to be financial experts or find their own instructors because Online Trading Academy develops and manages the instructor pool to maintain the consistency of its product offering.
“We have free repeat privileges for life for our students, so they can take the same course anywhere in the world and we want to be sure if they bought the course in Dubai and want to retake it while in Fort Lauderdale or online that it’s all the same,” Longobardi explains. “We have to have consistency in our model of education, which is why we don’t have franchisees be the educators.”
Online Trading Academy offers franchisees a plethora of resources and support. The company offers day-to-day consulting, operational and sales support, ongoing training and marketing management. Online Trading Academy also works with franchisees to find and build out the campus to the company’s specifications to maintain consistency. “We don’t leave anything to chance,” Longobardi notes.
“The hallmark of this organization is culture,” Longobardi says. “We start with our core values, mission and vision to enrich people’s lives worldwide. The most important of our core values is love. We preach that we need to extend love to any prospects that come onboard and employees, offering love and grace-filled relationships. We treat people great and treat people how we want to be treated.”
Online Trading Academy is a designated B Corp., which is a company that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. “Even though we are a for-profit business, solving social and environmental problems is built into our DNA and our business model is focused on being a force for good in the world,” Longobardi says.
The company is one of only 2,400 around the world that are certified B Corps. Online Trading Academy has gone through rigorous testing and produced documentation that proves it does what it says it does and how it makes an impact on the planet. “This is in our heart to be a force for good, so we went for it and achieved this certification level,” Longobardi notes.
Online Trading Academy plans to continue to be a premier financial education community for anyone in the world who seeks an enriched lifestyle. “Our community is for those who want to figure this stuff out, be a better steward of their money and teach their kids to be financially savvy,” Longobardi says. “We want to attract franchisees who want to make an impact on people and build relationships with our students.
“Culture is everything at Online Trading Academy,” he concludes. “We select the right people who embody our value system so we can build and promote that culture and spirit all around our shared mission of making a positive impact on the lives of our customers and employees. When you have the whole company pulling in the right direction it trumps everything.”