When it comes to words like investments, stocks and trading, I tend to tune out and shut down. I never considered myself anywhere within an income bracket where I had enough money to buy stocks or have anything to do with that. Throw in words like Bursa Malaysia, FOREX and Dow Jones and you’ll probably see me discreetly smothering yawns.
Therefore, when there was an opportunity to attend a seminar on investing and the stock market, I did not jump at it. However, I was convinced into it because it was a good learning opportunity, and honestly, perhaps one day I would actually earn enough to be able to apply whatever knowledge I’d picked up.
The seminar was billed as being beginner-friendly, and had taglines promising financial freedom for everyone from all walks of life. I was honestly very skeptical.
I went and sat through a four hour seminar, so that you, dear reader, don’t have to. Here are some of the things I’ve picked up or observed. Hopefully, they will be illuminating for you.
1. Millennials Are Not Even Their Target Demographic.
Taking a quick look around the room (which seated roughly 100 people), what stood out was that many of the attendees came as a couple. The rest looked to be in their mid-thirties to forties, with some retiree-aged gentlemen scattered round. When the speaker took a quick survey, there were perhaps only about 3 people below the age of 25 present.
It was pretty obvious in this case that for the people in their twenties, learning about investing and trading was not yet a priority and concern.
The audience was fairly engaged and I could sense that most people were there to learn. They were taking notes, responsive, nodding and voicing their agreement to many of the speaker’s points. The constant reiteration of financial freedom and being able to afford their kids’ education and their own retirement resonated strongly with them.
2. They Use The Cult Of Personality And The Lure of Success Stories To Get You.
Before the actual talk began, we had to sit through about half an hour of the achievements of the organising company and the speaker. This was where things got rather weird. They would proudly show an event or award that they got recently, and demand applause from the audience. It went along the lines of, “We received this award in (insert competition name) last year. Applause please,” and everyone in the room was dutifully expected to clap their hands.
My fellow writer and I wrote down these notes “Feels like a cult” and “Is this a religious initiation ceremony?” respectively. This part was where I was first felt uncomfortable, then as it progressed, bored.
I didn’t really care how much money the speaker has made for herself or what the company has achieved. That was already all in the booklet they had handed out, and it felt really unnecessary to someone who was just there to learn. They were brainwashing us.
I can hazard a guess as to why they did it. You do have to prove yourself and that you have the right qualifications to do what you’ve promised, but if I already have to sit through a four-hour seminar, I don’t need to be beaten over the head with it for an hour long.
When the speaker got on stage, she started talking about her background all over again, and it was getting harder to hide my eye rolls. One burning question I had was, “If trading has truly made you so successful and wealthy, why organise classes?”
Of course, she did clarify that it was because trading and investing had changed her life by allowing her financial and time freedom, so she wanted to do the same for others. The cynics among you will already know my thoughts, the idealists can stay happy in their worlds.
3. You Should Consider What Is Best Financial Option To Grow Wealth.
I never really thought about it, but the speaker compared four things that people usually use when they’re thinking of growing wealth: stocks, gold, property or fixed deposits. For this seminar, she was selling how stocks (investing and trading) would be the best option.
Opinions on the Internet vary, depending on which website you visit, but from what I understand, trading in stocks is one of the faster ways to build up, particularly if your capital is not as high. The other options all require more capital to be built before they become viable options for investments.
4. Psychology Really Matters.
This was one point I really found myself agreeing with. According to the speaker, one of the pitfalls of anyone investing or trading is a lack of self-knowledge and awareness. There are three emotions that often drive behaviour in the stock market: fear, hope and greed. Some add ignorance to the mix. The combination of these often lead to people making bad decisions when it comes to when you should buy or sell, or even what to buy or sell.
It’s very important to know yourself and be very disciplined. Set the rules before you start investing and be very clear about how much you are risking and how much you are willing to lose before you cut your losses. It’s quite similar to the advice you give gamblers, though we all know how successfully that is followed.
5. Don’t Jump Into It Without Laying The Right Groundwork.
One other thing that really stood out to me is that going into investing and trading is not something that you can easily just dip your foot into and manage. Obviously, the seminar was selling something—classes to teach you how to invest and trade. However, their marketing aside, I do think that doing the proper research is very important before you get into it.
There are so many areas to cover, from deciding which market to invest in (Malaysia? Australia? USA), to which company’s stocks to buy, to what sort of trading or investing (Options? CFD? FOREX?), to reading patterns in the market and knowing how to analyse and come up with a good plan. Navigating all these will require some serious work and dedication before you can consistently get returns.
Even choosing the right broker, managing your time, knowing when to act and when to hold, all these require a lot of practice and thought, as well as research.
I personally don’t know if I would ever get into buying stocks in the future (or the other variations), despite how easy and accessible the speaker made it sound. If it was truly so profitable that people can quit their jobs and be supported entirely by trading and investing, where’s the catch? Until I can find that out, I probably won’t believe that it can ever be that easy.