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Old 02-10-2020, 01:28 PM
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Can we still talk about stocks on the SDMB?


I got reluctant approval to talk about stocks back in 2005. Has there been a change in policy? I donít want the board to have 1000 threads about buying some hot stock, but I thought some general discussion on the markets would be of interest. If itís granted, can that also include commodities such as gold and oil?

https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...d.php?t=299067
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Old 02-10-2020, 01:57 PM
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There's no prohibition on talking about stocks on the board, and there are lots of threads in IMHO on stocks and the stock market. IMHO would be the place to talk about personal investing. Specific issues concerning the stock market could be addressed in Great Debate, and factual questions about stocks in General Questions.
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Old 02-10-2020, 09:16 PM
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I have to come about this from a couple of angles.

1. As a moderator, I don't really have trouble with it.

2. As a licensed broker, I have to say that anyone - like me - who is licensed and those licenses are active shouldn't participate in any such threads. I know my compliance department would shit if I provided anything like advice in clear on a message board. I don't know the participants well enough to provide any real worthy advice. In addition, I couldn't limit my advice to one person so it would create a potential liability between my firm and every single person who read it.

People who are qualified to give opinions and advice wouldn't be able to do so easily. So what you get is what you get.
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Old 02-10-2020, 11:53 PM
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I have to come about this from a couple of angles.

1. As a moderator, I don't really have trouble with it.

2. As a licensed broker, I have to say that anyone - like me - who is licensed and those licenses are active shouldn't participate in any such threads. I know my compliance department would shit if I provided anything like advice in clear on a message board. I don't know the participants well enough to provide any real worthy advice. In addition, I couldn't limit my advice to one person so it would create a potential liability between my firm and every single person who read it.

People who are qualified to give opinions and advice wouldn't be able to do so easily. So what you get is what you get.
Iím a former licensed broker myself. Series 3/4/7/24/34/63

And I wouldnít be starting or responding to any threads about should I buy XYZ? Iíd be more interested in discussing if the S&P will be higher or lower on Dec 31. Or, why is XYZ dropping in price? Whatís up with the rise in gold prices? That sort of stuff.

And yeah, when I was working in the industry, compliance wouldnít have been happy although I doubt the SDMB is in on their radar. They were more interested in those who took to Twitter to gloat over a recent trade or decided they wanted to be Jim Cramer.
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Old 02-11-2020, 09:32 AM
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Iím a former licensed broker myself. Series 3/4/7/24/34/63
...
So what does that series of numbers mean?
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Old 02-11-2020, 09:48 AM
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So what does that series of numbers mean?
Pardon the pun, but they are a series of different securities examinations administered by various bodies to ensure financial professionals know their stuff. Link:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...tes_of_America
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Old 02-11-2020, 09:58 AM
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Sounds like I need to go find a penny stock to pump and dump.

HOSS is going through the roof I tell ya! Buy it now, because it is shooting straight to $10!!

Last edited by Hermitian; 02-11-2020 at 09:59 AM.
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Old 02-11-2020, 10:09 AM
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And yeah, when I was working in the industry, compliance wouldnít have been happy although I doubt the SDMB is in on their radar. They were more interested in those who took to Twitter to gloat over a recent trade or decided they wanted to be Jim Cramer.
Yeah, I donít know how long itís been for you but itís right now. Compliance knows all my social media - even here - and has the right to review everything at their discretion.

Hell, when I was writing my webcomic some poor guy had to review the entire archive once per year to make sure I wasnít slipping anything in there.
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Old 02-11-2020, 10:09 AM
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Buy low, sell high.

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Old 02-11-2020, 11:13 AM
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Buy low, sell high.
Alternatively, sell high then buy low.
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Old 02-11-2020, 12:12 PM
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Buy low, sell high.
"What happened to your portfolio?"
"I dunno, man, I ate some of those brownies and the next thing I know I was selling all my stocks so I could buy more brownies."
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Old 02-11-2020, 02:11 PM
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Yeah, I don’t know how long it’s been for you but it’s right now. Compliance knows all my social media - even here - and has the right to review everything at their discretion.

Hell, when I was writing my webcomic some poor guy had to review the entire archive once per year to make sure I wasn’t slipping anything in there.
The major discount brokerage firm I worked for announced layoffs last fall and I was one of them. So, it’s recent.

Twice a year, I had to certify that I was in compliance with the social media policy. My manager may have looked at my LinkedIn because weren’t allowed to have any of their silly endorsements, but that’s as far as he went. I’m very active on social media, it would be a full time job just to review my Twitter much less the rest of my social media and the SDMB.
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Old 02-11-2020, 02:13 PM
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"What happened to your portfolio?"
"I dunno, man, I ate some of those brownies and the next thing I know I was selling all my stocks so I could buy more brownies."
Iíd rather be buying brownies than the marijuana penny stocks I constantly get spammed for. At least the brownies have a purpose.
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Old 02-11-2020, 08:39 PM
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The major discount brokerage firm I worked for announced layoffs last fall and I was one of them. So, itís recent.

Twice a year, I had to certify that I was in compliance with the social media policy. My manager may have looked at my LinkedIn because werenít allowed to have any of their silly endorsements, but thatís as far as he went. Iím very active on social media, it would be a full time job just to review my Twitter much less the rest of my social media and the SDMB.
My BD isn't discount, it's full service. Literally everything gets reviewed every year. I occasionally get questions of the 'what did you mean by this?' sort on my FB posts. I show them it's a Rush lyric or something and they go away.
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Old 02-11-2020, 10:06 PM
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Wow! I'm surprised that "compliance" is taken so seriously. What's the reason? Fear of pump'n'dump or some such? Offering advice to those who didn't pay for advice?

Presumably, your Twitter followers know you're a stock broker. Google shows lots of stock toutings ó I guess all of them are from non-brokers.
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Old 02-11-2020, 10:11 PM
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Alternatively, sell high then buy low.
Which is kind of what I did in one of my early trades, when I played the market just for fun as a kid. I signed up with what was then Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith. One of my interests was puts and calls because of the tremendous leverage they had. The broker might have thought I was some rich kid (I was not) and early on tried to impress me with some direct advice, like recommending IBM puts. For the non-brokers and non-investors around here, a put is analogous to a short sale; it's a time-limited bet that the stock will drop below a certain value in a fixed period of time. If it doesn't, or it drops only slowly as the time runs out, you run the risk of losing everything. Same with a "call" option.

I took his advice and put a few hundred dollars into IBM puts. The stock subsequently dropped like a rock, and I netted several thousand dollars in two weeks, the equivalent of over $12 grand today. His advice continued to be amazing and I actually got into trouble with my employer's accounting department because for a while I couldn't be bothered cashing my paychecks and it was causing problems with their books. It was just that the profits coming in from the brokerage were making my paychecks seem like petty cash.

Eventually he realized I wasn't a rich-kid investor after all and the direct advice petered out. To this day I have no idea how he had this information to give, and whether he had insider contacts, or some other sources that normal mortals don't have access to.
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Old 02-11-2020, 11:58 PM
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Which is kind of what I did in one of my early trades, when I played the market just for fun as a kid. I signed up with what was then Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith. One of my interests was puts and calls because of the tremendous leverage they had. The broker might have thought I was some rich kid (I was not) and early on tried to impress me with some direct advice, like recommending IBM puts. For the non-brokers and non-investors around here, a put is analogous to a short sale; it's a time-limited bet that the stock will drop below a certain value in a fixed period of time. If it doesn't, or it drops only slowly as the time runs out, you run the risk of losing everything. Same with a "call" option.

I took his advice and put a few hundred dollars into IBM puts. The stock subsequently dropped like a rock, and I netted several thousand dollars in two weeks, the equivalent of over $12 grand today. His advice continued to be amazing and I actually got into trouble with my employer's accounting department because for a while I couldn't be bothered cashing my paychecks and it was causing problems with their books. It was just that the profits coming in from the brokerage were making my paychecks seem like petty cash.

Eventually he realized I wasn't a rich-kid investor after all and the direct advice petered out. To this day I have no idea how he had this information to give, and whether he had insider contacts, or some other sources that normal mortals don't have access to.
I doubt inside advice, and buying long options isn’t always the best strategy anyway. It’s usually done with a spread to reduce the premium paid.

I’d assume they used some technical analysis to perhaps determine stocks likely to fall and then looked to see how much the option premiums were to see if they were low enough. You don’t want to pay $6 for a put for a stock that drops $5 especially with time value ticking off on the option.
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Old 02-12-2020, 06:43 AM
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Wow! I'm surprised that "compliance" is taken so seriously. What's the reason? Fear of pump'n'dump or some such? Offering advice to those who didn't pay for advice?

Presumably, your Twitter followers know you're a stock broker. Google shows lots of stock toutings ó I guess all of them are from non-brokers.
Well, you're assuming I have Twitter followers. The vast, VAST majority of Americans don't use Twitter. Pew says it's about 1 in 5 and of that 20% more than 80% of the posts come from 10% of that number. So we're looking at about 2% of Americans being frequent Twitter users. They're noisy, sure, but that's it.

On compliance? FINRA is very strict about such things. Therefore compliance is very strict. A broker can be fired in a hurry for violating policy. It's not 'offering advice without being paid'. That's silly. It's the potential to create liability - people taking advice not customized to them - or fines from FINRA - which can go into the thousands for a first offense and higher down the line - for violating regulations.

Compliance is important when you're handling other people's assets.
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Old 02-12-2020, 12:31 PM
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I'm dense; can you explain this better? If a brokerage customer doesn't want to discuss his own financial status, can you still recommend stocks to him? On social media, would even a general comment like "Some investors find SP500 Index ETFs convenient" be prohibited?
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Old 02-12-2020, 02:07 PM
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Yes, exactly. That would be providing advice without proper Ďknow-your-customerí. Shortened to KYC it requires me to know a clients financial situation well enough to make that recommendation. It may be that for someone reading that post an index fund wasnít appropriate for some reason. My firm and I could be liable if they moved on my suggestion.

And yes, if a new client refused to disclose any financial info I couldnít make recommendations for them. I wouldnít know enough to do so and would have to tell them that.
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Old 02-13-2020, 12:12 AM
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Literally everything gets reviewed every year. I occasionally get questions of the 'what did you mean by this?' sort on my FB posts. I show them it's a Rush lyric or something and they go away.
Very clever! As long as your investment recommendations are encoded in song lyrics, you have enough plausible deniability to escape detection.

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Old 02-13-2020, 01:21 AM
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Very clever! As long as your investment recommendations are encoded in song lyrics, you have enough plausible deniability to escape detection.

ĎIím streaming NYSYNC on my APPLE iPhone. Baby, BYE BYE BYE.í
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Old 02-13-2020, 07:00 AM
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Great, now I'm going to have to justify my Apple Music playlists.
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Old 02-14-2020, 03:34 AM
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We're getting somewhat off-topic here, but I will say that I've dealt with both full-service and discount brokers and I appreciate the licensing and ethical standards they have to meet, and have never had issues with any of them.

As a side story, I had a bad scare once -- entirely my fault -- when I placed an online limit order on stock in my son's trust account. I had been watching the price pattern carefully and priced the limit order at a level that I thought would be reached in the relatively short term. The problem was that it was a US stock, and my stupid bank's brokerage translates the value of all stock holdings to Canadian dollars. It suddenly occurred to me, in a moment of real shock that had me reaching for a bottle of rum with a trembling hand, that my limit order may have been interpreted in Canadian dollars, which would have meant (given the exchange rate at the time) that instead of my carefully calculated effort to sell at the maximum achievable price, I was essentially giving it all away well below market value!!! Example: a stock is currently trading at USD $55. I place an order to sell if and only if it hits $62. But if that $62 was interpreted as Canadian dollars, at today's exchange rate I was essentially offering to sell the whole lot for USD $46.78! And I don't believe the trading rules have any allowances for being an idiot!

Fortunately, despite my bank's stupid statement policies, all stop and limit orders for US stocks are executed in US dollars, so everything worked out as expected.

The fascinating thing here in Canada (don't know about the US) is that there is a species of creature generally employed by the big banks called financial advisors (or sometimes, financial planners) who have a history of being highly unethical. And yet they do need to be licensed -- at a minimum they need to pass the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. FINRA Series 7 exam and one or more of a dozen other exams, the most common of which (for the bank FAs) I think would be the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Exam.

Despite the financial strength and professed integrity of the Canadian banks, it appears from the above-cited article that a lot of their FAs are crooks. The above-cited article seems to focus on them giving bad advice or advice not suited to the financial needs of the client. Apparently it happens, since the CBC hidden cameras recorded it (one quote from one of the CBC analysts: "Thatís one of the worst pieces of advice Iíve ever heard in my life,Ē financial analyst and former adviser Preet Banerjee told Marketplace co-host Erica Johnson when shown hidden camera footage of one of the tests. ďThat was atrocious. Thatís the only word to describe that advice."

But that wasn't exactly my experience, or the typical stories I hear. These people are not brokers in the traditional sense in that they don't trade individual stocks or bonds. What they do is push "financial products", and therein lies the problem. These products are often geared to maximize bank profits, not returns for the client. They generally resemble mutual funds, often under other names, and frequently underperform the market while charging outrageous management fees.

I was once offered one of those, and sitting in the FA's office was a slimeball who specialized in selling them, and looked like the sort of person you would definitely NOT buy a used car from (vague resemblance to Sean Hannity). What they didn't know was that at the time, I was doing IT consulting work for that very same bank, and for a department that dealt with major investments. So I asked the VP of that group what she thought of that offer. She laughed and said it was junk, mainly just a source of profit for the bank. She said that for my modest purposes, an index fund that would follow an expected strong market and offer real diversification with essentially no management fees would be the way to go. Which is what I did, and it served me well.
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Old 02-14-2020, 07:18 AM
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Well, the vast majority of people who deal in investments are called Financial Advisors. Sometimes it depends on what firm employs them. So don't paint all with a broad brush.

But that's why KYC is so important. At my firm, every trade I make or scenario I propose is crossed against data about the client that they input about income, net worth, cash needs, age and a bunch of other things. If something's not right I get a call to justify it. If compliance doesn't like my answer - and sometimes just randomly - they call the client to make sure they understood the transaction.

While I can't speak to Canadian regulations, here in the US I see most get at least the Series 6 and 63 exams. I have more, but I've been at it a while, now.

One thing, though. No one in the securities industry is required to get a Certified Financial Planner certification. The CFP isn't a license. It's a certification awarded by the CFP Board. But it's not a regulatory body at all. Some firm's require people to get it and some do not. I know at least one firm last year that was considering no longer allowing its FAs to use the designation because of disagreements with who the Board was handling fiduciary standards.

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Old 02-14-2020, 09:43 AM
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... Example: a stock is currently trading at USD $55. I place an order to sell if and only if it hits $62. But if that $62 was interpreted as Canadian dollars, at today's exchange rate I was essentially offering to sell the whole lot for USD $46.78! And I don't believe the trading rules have any allowances for being an idiot!
I'm not 100% sure, but I think the algorithm that matches bids and asks will use up all the pending bids to buy from you at their bid prices before submitting the horrid 'ask.' And if the market is closed, your price will be whatever the computed Opening Price is next time the market opens.
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Old 02-14-2020, 02:25 PM
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We're getting somewhat off-topic here, but I will say that I've dealt with both full-service and discount brokers and I appreciate the licensing and ethical standards they have to meet, and have never had issues with any of them.

As a side story, I had a bad scare once -- entirely my fault -- when I placed an online limit order on stock in my son's trust account. I had been watching the price pattern carefully and priced the limit order at a level that I thought would be reached in the relatively short term. The problem was that it was a US stock, and my stupid bank's brokerage translates the value of all stock holdings to Canadian dollars. It suddenly occurred to me, in a moment of real shock that had me reaching for a bottle of rum with a trembling hand, that my limit order may have been interpreted in Canadian dollars, which would have meant (given the exchange rate at the time) that instead of my carefully calculated effort to sell at the maximum achievable price, I was essentially giving it all away well below market value!!! Example: a stock is currently trading at USD $55. I place an order to sell if and only if it hits $62. But if that $62 was interpreted as Canadian dollars, at today's exchange rate I was essentially offering to sell the whole lot for USD $46.78! And I don't believe the trading rules have any allowances for being an idiot!

Fortunately, despite my bank's stupid statement policies, all stop and limit orders for US stocks are executed in US dollars, so everything worked out as expected.

The fascinating thing here in Canada (don't know about the US) is that there is a species of creature generally employed by the big banks called financial advisors (or sometimes, financial planners) who have a history of being highly unethical. And yet they do need to be licensed -- at a minimum they need to pass the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. FINRA Series 7 exam and one or more of a dozen other exams, the most common of which (for the bank FAs) I think would be the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Exam.

Despite the financial strength and professed integrity of the Canadian banks, it appears from the above-cited article that a lot of their FAs are crooks. The above-cited article seems to focus on them giving bad advice or advice not suited to the financial needs of the client. Apparently it happens, since the CBC hidden cameras recorded it (one quote from one of the CBC analysts: "Thatís one of the worst pieces of advice Iíve ever heard in my life,Ē financial analyst and former adviser Preet Banerjee told Marketplace co-host Erica Johnson when shown hidden camera footage of one of the tests. ďThat was atrocious. Thatís the only word to describe that advice."

But that wasn't exactly my experience, or the typical stories I hear. These people are not brokers in the traditional sense in that they don't trade individual stocks or bonds. What they do is push "financial products", and therein lies the problem. These products are often geared to maximize bank profits, not returns for the client. They generally resemble mutual funds, often under other names, and frequently underperform the market while charging outrageous management fees.

I was once offered one of those, and sitting in the FA's office was a slimeball who specialized in selling them, and looked like the sort of person you would definitely NOT buy a used car from (vague resemblance to Sean Hannity). What they didn't know was that at the time, I was doing IT consulting work for that very same bank, and for a department that dealt with major investments. So I asked the VP of that group what she thought of that offer. She laughed and said it was junk, mainly just a source of profit for the bank. She said that for my modest purposes, an index fund that would follow an expected strong market and offer real diversification with essentially no management fees would be the way to go. Which is what I did, and it served me well.
Interesting because your scenario with your trade is what my group at my former firm used to handle. If someone places a trade way away from the market, someone would review it as it would get flagged by our algorithms. So, a sell limit order way below the market is probably someone wanting to place a sell stop order instead. Thereís a group, probably at every firm, that reviews orders like that as well as unusual activity. Most 75 year olds donít dump all their blue chip stocks at once to buy marijuana penny stocks and shares in a new hip hop restaurant, for example. Or someone placing a market buy order on AAPL in a retirement account thatís near the account value, canít have a retirement account going negative.

I never worked at all on the advisory side, I was a punching bag on the phones explaining trading strategies and then moved into the back office mainly handling futures.
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Old 02-14-2020, 03:32 PM
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Man, you should go into the field. That's where the real craziness happens.
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Old 02-14-2020, 07:05 PM
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The fascinating thing here in Canada (don't know about the US) is that there is a species of creature generally employed by the big banks called financial advisors (or sometimes, financial planners) who have a history of being highly unethical. And yet they do need to be licensed
Same here in Aus. I stopped keeping track of which sectors and what the requirements were years ago, because it's wack-a-mole: as soon as one dodgy sector of the industry is closed down with licensing and fiduciary requirements, another springs up to separate old people from their money by offering "advice"

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Old 02-14-2020, 07:25 PM
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(snip)Eventually he realized I wasn't a rich-kid investor after all and the direct advice petered out. To this day I have no idea how he had this information to give, and whether he had insider contacts, or some other sources that normal mortals don't have access to.
He had a few thousand people he was providing advice to, and just tossing coins to determine who got puts and who got calls. After a few weeks he had a list of a couple of dozen that got 90% good advice, then those people get hit for the big score. The first time I heard that one it was predicting the winners of the gladiator games. I laughed so hard I fell off my chariot.
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Old 02-15-2020, 07:59 AM
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He had a few thousand people he was providing advice to, and just tossing coins to determine who got puts and who got calls. After a few weeks he had a list of a couple of dozen that got 90% good advice, then those people get hit for the big score. The first time I heard that one it was predicting the winners of the gladiator games. I laughed so hard I fell off my chariot.
A.k.a. the raindrop con. Sprinkle enough drops over things and one of them is bound to land on something.
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Old 02-15-2020, 08:26 AM
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Which is, actually, not the worst tactic for any sort of business. When I want to pick up new business I go out and meet a million people at various events and functions. I know that - statistically - if I talk to eleven people I'll get one client.

So it's not the tactic, it's the goal that's evil.
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Old 02-16-2020, 01:14 PM
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He had a few thousand people he was providing advice to, and just tossing coins to determine who got puts and who got calls. After a few weeks he had a list of a couple of dozen that got 90% good advice, then those people get hit for the big score. The first time I heard that one it was predicting the winners of the gladiator games. I laughed so hard I fell off my chariot.
Yeah, I thought I was clever when I came up with this idea myself as a young teenager, only to learn that I wasn't anywhere near the first to think of it.
  #34  
Old 02-16-2020, 01:46 PM
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Buy low, sell high.

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Buy low, never sell.
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Old 02-16-2020, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Bill Door View Post
He had a few thousand people he was providing advice to, and just tossing coins to determine who got puts and who got calls. After a few weeks he had a list of a couple of dozen that got 90% good advice, then those people get hit for the big score. The first time I heard that one it was predicting the winners of the gladiator games. I laughed so hard I fell off my chariot.
I don't think so. It was a very long time ago, but my recollection is that he was pretty confident that it was the right thing to do. Unlike my bank FA, he never tried to hit me with a "big score" that I can ever recall. Most of the bad decisions I made were entirely my own bright ideas!

This has been an interesting thread. One other anecdote I can relate is getting the idea for some reason that buying stock in a big mining company up north was a good thing to do, up in the Sudbury area so it must have been mainly nickel with perhaps some copper and zinc as their products. A week or two later I read somewhere -- in an investment advice column in a newspaper I think -- that prices of base metals were plummeting and were expected to fall for the foreseeable future, so anyone holding base metal mining stocks should get right the hell out. I shrugged and ignored the advice. Just about exactly one year later, the price of the stock had doubled!

The moral of the story is that by the time you read "investment advice" in any popular media, everybody who knows anything already acted on it long ago, or else the advice is completely stupid, or both. Possibly what happened in this case was that the expected downturn in metal prices had long been expected and the "experts" had all dumped their holdings, depressing the market price to exceptionally low levels by the time I came along. Again, this was long ago so I don't remember the price history.
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Old 02-16-2020, 02:34 PM
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Buy low, never sell.
Pretty much my standard advice for real estate!
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Old 02-16-2020, 04:50 PM
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The moral of the story is that by the time you read "investment advice" in any popular media, everybody who knows anything already acted on it long ago, or else the advice is completely stupid, or both. Possibly what happened in this case was that the expected downturn in metal prices had long been expected and the "experts" had all dumped their holdings, depressing the market price to exceptionally low levels by the time I came along. Again, this was long ago so I don't remember the price history.
This is generally my view on things. If you work a regular job, by the time you can act on any news, the market already has factored it in. And it's probably getting to the point these days that if you're a human, you're too slow - there are AI algorithms reading all the news trying to get the best information with regard to what should be done in the financial markets as soon as it hits the wires. Thus, it makes very little sense to be active in any sort of manner, but instead simply slowly put your savings into the market, rebalancing the proportions as you do so, and ride it out for the long haul. I personally can't believe there are people on twitter and the like talking about stocks and such, as though they know more than the market.
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Old Yesterday, 04:04 AM
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Pretty much my standard advice for real estate!
The problem with buying real estate too low is the increased risk of flooding.
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Old Today, 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by glowacks View Post
This is generally my view on things. If you work a regular job, by the time you can act on any news, the market already has factored it in. And it's probably getting to the point these days that if you're a human, you're too slow - there are AI algorithms reading all the news trying to get the best information with regard to what should be done in the financial markets as soon as it hits the wires. Thus, it makes very little sense to be active in any sort of manner, but instead simply slowly put your savings into the market, rebalancing the proportions as you do so, and ride it out for the long haul. I personally can't believe there are people on twitter and the like talking about stocks and such, as though they know more than the market.
That is such sound advice. Thank you. I couldn't agree more. Long-term dollar cost averaging for the win.
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