It was a fine afternoon and Nannette and I got to talking.
I just passed the insurance examination given by the Insurance Commission and can now be ushered into the world of insurance agents and hustling and bustling. That made me uncomfortable and I told Nannette so.
Okay, I still had the image of the feisty, persistent, pesky seller of insurance who does not really explain or understand what he sells, does not hear the word “no”, does not stick around through the bad times (when the hapless insured can no longer pay the premiums), is just “interested” because of the commission he hopes to get.
One year. That was how long my relationship with the stock market has been. But there was a pre-story, which was training, lots of training, before I found the heart to jump in and play for real.
And to jump out too. But first things first.
Flashback to 2008. Giddy and excited and with fake money at hand, I started with the online stock exchange (it offered a practice account). Prepped by my financial planner, pumped up with some reading I had done here and there and some monitoring of the market, I found I gained some fake USD$600 in a few months. But I since I was in no real danger of getting poor or rich, I soon found myself bored. The market bottomed out too, wiping my gains, but ironically, it was also the perfect time to get in for real, to playfor real.
Five years ago, I would not have given it any thought.
In fact, if I come across finance terms, I would hardly give it a glance. Worse, it would not even penetrate my consciousness. I would not even see it, period. But it is true what they say. What you do not understand or know at first, if you keep at it, it would have no choice but take on meaning.
Do not be fooled. The business of stocks or securities is serious business. The big boys make the stock market their playground, their very own money mill, if you please. If you are not careful and fall prey to their schemes, well, you can kiss your hard-earned money goodbye.
But the point of education is to make you more aware of the pitfalls. Half of winning is knowing.
Stocks are on the upswing again. How do I know? I look at the stock market reports daily.
This was one of the first tips given by my financial planner to me – to look at the business page, particularly the big rectangular block full of numbers and letters, read it over, pick at least 10 stocks that I would watch daily, and watch them daily (yes, it is a commitment). He said that this way, I would develop a feel for it. This, he tells me further, is how the pros do it – everyday, full time. I looked at him, half-smiling (I was trying to convince him that I could do it) and half-wincing (I imagined it as a painful exercise). Sure looked like it was a lot of hard work. But I found out – it was not.
Let me tell you, I hardly ever looked at the business page before. It screamed boring! to me. After all, who cares about companies and mergers and acquisitions when there’s news that Actress A is pregnant and the dad is Actor B who is married and their story is played till kingdom come and I had 30 minutes to spare? Even the cartoon page would get first dibs.
Believe me, no one at the start really is. Some say the stock market is a simple game and playing requires only gut instinct, or no instinct, since the rule is buy low and sell high. Timing is everything and nothing in this game. No one knows when the bottom will come, even when a downward curve is on the horizon.
You can play two ways: online or live. You can see a list of trading participants (brokers, in street parlance) in http://www.pse.com.ph/. Click the link on the left side that says “Trading Participants”.
Financial advise comes from the most unexpected source sometimes.
I met Warren Buffett through a Chinaman, a name the Chinese were called a long time ago, and which I use here with awe and as a form of endearment. My Chinaman, let us call my Chinaman Mr. S, ushered me into the wonderful world of stocks.
He came one ordinary day into the office, wearing simple unassuming clothes, wanting advice for a tax problem. He did not impress me on day one, nor I him. He did not shake my hand when the meeting was over, only did some form of a bow, muttering that he still had a bus to catch. That would not have been odd except that I knew that his net worth was 290 Million Pesos, up from 29 Million Pesos, because he was a stock market genius. Having started learning about stocks that year, I knew I should have his ear, and he mine.