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 don’t 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 it’s granted, can that also include commodities such as gold and oil?

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.

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.

I’m a former licensed broker myself. Series 3/4/7/24/34/63

And I wouldn’t be starting or responding to any threads about should I buy XYZ? I’d be more interested in discussing if the S&P will be higher or lower on Dec 31. Or, why is XYZ dropping in price? What’s up with the rise in gold prices? That sort of stuff.

And yeah, when I was working in the industry, compliance wouldn’t 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.

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:

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!!

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.

Buy low, sell high.


Alternatively, sell high then buy low.

“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.”

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.

I’d rather be buying brownies than the marijuana penny stocks I constantly get spammed for. At least the brownies have a purpose.

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.

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 — I guess all of them are from non-brokers.

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.

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.

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?

Yes, exactly. That would be providing advice without proper ‘know-your-customer’. 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 wasn’t 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 couldn’t make recommendations for them. I wouldn’t know enough to do so and would have to tell them that.