Some students are schooled in stocks at an early age

Some students are schooled in stocks at an early age

Illustration by Vivian Lin/Chronicle

At age 10, Daniel Singer ’17 realized that he was making little interest off of the money in his savings account.

Singer asked his father to open an account for him at E-Trade, a financial services company to help investors, and he transferred the money from his savings account to his new E-Trade account.

“I moved almost every dollar I had over there and started trading,” Singer said.

Singer invested more and more time into his stock hobby, and he quickly began to profit.

“I started in 2010, which was coming off the heels of the recession, so as much as I would like to think I was good at investing, almost anywhere you put your money with some amount of risk during the comeback years netted you a healthy amount,” Singer said. “I beat the indexes for the last few years. It’s nothing special though, really just high appetite for risk that’s been paying off so far.”

Singer currently owns stock in companies such as Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, Apple and Tesla, along with a “mishmash of others.” Recently, he has only spent an hour or so every month on his stock portfolio.

“I’ve pretty much just stuck to keeping my ear on the market, and I move if I need to, but I don’t do much day trading,” Singer said.

Roy Dritley ’16 set up an E-Trade account last Christmas with some help from his parents.

“I own some long-term mutual funds, some stock in oil, and a little in some large technology companies like Apple,” Dritley said.

Dritley rarely buys new stocks, he said, but he has earned several hundred dollars in the past few months.

“I don’t spend that much time working on my portfolio,” Dritley said. “I kind of just let it run, but I check it often. I have been pretty successful in my investing.”

Sam Saferstein ’17 began investing in 2012, when his grandfather taught him about how the market works. He currently owns stock in semiconductor company Analog Devices and recently sold stock in Discover Financial Services and Vail Resorts.

“During the weekend is when I analyze stocks,” Saferstein said. “Also, because the stock market is closed during the weekend, it gives me time to slow down and select new potential stocks. During the week, I have notifications for my phone that send me price alerts on the price of the stock and news alerts on any news in the company.”

Saferstein hopes to become an investor as an adult.

“My success isn’t based on how much money I make but rather how much knowledge I am able to gain in this process,” Saferstein said. “A lot of the times I simply mock invest so that I can see how the stock would have done if I actually bought the stock.”

Students who don’t want to risk actual money in the stock market can use online mock investment websites to see how they would do in the market by buying fake stocks with fake online money.

Zach Belateche ’16 began using investment education website investopedia.com in eighth grade to practice investing with fake online money.

“I was pretty bad at first, but by the middle of my freshman year I got pretty good and recouped all of my losses,” Belateche said.

Belateche’s online portfolio includes stock in Apple, Verizon and King LLC, the company that produced popular mobile game Candy Crush.

“I plan to invest eventually but not to take it up as a profession,” Belateche said. “If I do invest in real life, I’d probably be less risky than I was when I first started mock investing.”

Sean Jung ’16 began mock investing as a member of the Mock Investment Club at the middle school. He now spends at least ten minutes a day analyzing stock prices and graphs.

“In the club, we set up accounts on updown.com, a fake stock market that closely mimics the real stock market,” Jung said. “I have had various accounts on Updown, but my most successful account, which I created in 2013, has made a 27 percent profit.”

David Hansen ’99 invested as a student, and he is now the president and founder of Los Angeles-based investment management company DRH Investments.

“My job is 100 percent investing all day, every day for the rest of my life,” Hansen said. “I love investing.”

Hansen was unsuccessful as a student investor and lost small amounts of money, but he said that his failures motivated him to learn about business magnate Warren Buffett and value investing, the investment strategy of purchasing stocks that trade for less than their intrinsic values with the assumption that those intrinsic values will eventually be realized.

“Had my initial investments been successful, I probably would have gambled the rest of my life,” Hansen said. “Losing a little money from summer jobs encouraged me to educate myself on investing.”

Hansen graduated from the University of California San Diego with a bachelor’s degree in economics and began practicing corporate law. He then worked in the investment management division at investment management firm Goldman, Sachs and Co. for four years before becoming Vice President and eventually leaving to found DRH Investments in 2004.

Hansen believes that all students should learn about finances and debt management.

“It’s better to get on the right foot while attending school than getting in a bad situation later in life,” Hansen said.

Former student investor Greg Nathan ’98 now works at First Pacific Investors, a Los Angeles-based investment management company.

“For the last 10 years, I’ve been a senior research analyst,” Nathan said. “Basically what that means is I identify businesses I think would be good to invest in, and I come up with a stock price I think is fair.”

As a student, Nathan was a member of the Finance and Investment Club. He and the other club members discussed investment strategies and looked at current stocks on the market.

“It was interesting because there was a group of people like ourselves, people who were interested in business as that time,” Nathan said. “A lot of us went into investing. Some work in real estate investing, some are entrepreneurs, and some do equity management. We all kind of knew.”

Nathan also researched investing independently and read books on investment.

“‘The Warren Buffett Way’ was the first book I read in high school, and it had a profound impact on me,” Nathan said. “After that I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life —discover great companies at cheap prices in which to invest.”

Nathan graduated from the Ross School of Business at University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. While in college, he read investment write-ups on valueinvestorsclub.com and researched companies so he could publish his own write-ups.

He was offered a job at Ameriprise Investment, then called American Express Ventures, but he would have had to work in Boston and wanted to work in Los Angeles.

Nathan chose to work at a small investment firm in Manhattan Beach instead.

“I took that job because despite being paid less than half of what I would have made at Ameriprise, I was confident I would learn more, and I did,” Nathan said. “The rest is history.”

Nathan heads the Alumni in Finance affinity group, which meets at local restaurants every few months to discuss investment ideas and recent business developments.

“We get around ten people and meet three times a year,” Nathan said. “Each person pitches a real, actionable investment idea to the group, and the alumni donate. The minimum cost to come to the dinners is a $500 donation for the scholarship fund. That way it’s a win-win, a win for the school and a win for the alumni.”

 

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