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The Cloonan Award for Excellence in Investment Education

As stated in the Editor’s Note, the very first cover of the AAII Journal featured a statement that has defined AAII’s mission throughout our history. That statement was: “The American Association of Individual Investors is an independent nonprofit corporation formed for the purpose of assisting individuals in becoming effective managers of their own assets through a program of education, information and research.”

James Cloonan founded the American Association of Individual Investors in 1978 with the clear understanding that individual investors have unique investment needs and opportunities. The investment environment was very different when AAII began over 35 years ago. Investment information did not flow easily. Research involved a trip to the library to study a company’s “tear sheet” and sending a letter to a company to request an annual report. Investor education for the individual investor was very limited. Fixed-brokerage commissions had just recently been stricken, freeing “mayday” brokers to compete on price and spurring the era of active individual investors.

Jim earned an MBA from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from Northwestern University. He was a business professor and was running an options-brokerage firm when he realized the need for an organization that would provide unbiased information, education and research for the individual investor. Jim continues to believe that if you take investing seriously, you can do better than professional money managers. It is important for individual investors to play to their strengths, perform appropriate research, take a long-term perspective and not get caught up in the emotions of the market.

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