Category Archives: Career

Why you don’t have to be Gordon Gekko to Invest in the Stock Market

Before I really understood the stock market, I always assumed investing was reserved for highly intelligent finance geeks, who read textbooks on the in’s and out’s of trading. As if they specialized in a secret science, an opportunity only available for the privileged that had the wealth needed to invest and grow. Like my unrealistic, childhood dream of becoming a celebrity, the thought of trading stocks was always desirable, but always seemed unattainable. However, after attending Bentley University and living amongst many other finance majors for the first time, I started to understand what it actually meant to trade different securities in the marketplace.

One of the biggest game changers was when I realized that I didn’t have to be a chic trader on Wall Street, finance professional or an economics professor to trade stocks. Really anyone can do it, and I mean everyone. Even you! All you really need is a computer, access to the Internet and about $200 dollars to invest. I was very unaware of just how accessible the stock market was. My classmates were pouring money into these brokerage accounts, buying and selling stocks in the dorms, during class and even on their smart phones walking around campus. My intrigue spiked one day, when my friend told me he had been paying off his college tuition by trading securities. He was very successful in his endeavors and had even bought a car with some of his yearly proceeds (not everyone is this successful). After that I knew I had to start putting money aside so I could finally take a chance of my own, and invest myself in the market. I told myself that even if I completely failed and lost everything, it would be a great learning experience. The decision proved to be worthwhile.

My first step, which was a very important one, was to choose the right brokerage online. Obviously I had seen various commercials and advertisements for brokerages of these types, but I wanted to do some comparison before I settled. It is important to choose a company that caters to your exact personal investment needs. This is especially important because every time you trade, you have to pay a percent fee known as commission. Commission is a rate fee that is tacked on to the cost of purchasing or selling stock, and every company has a different commission rate. This rate also tends to vary depending on stock type and/or amount invested. Investors also have to pay for the options in addition to the account, such as consultations, personal attention, branch locations, etc. These additional costs can add up, so it is important to keep all of this in mind when figuring out a brokerage to use. there are many sites that can give you a breakdown of pros and cons for each site.

As a millennial we aren’t the most trusting people when it comes to other people handling our money so I skipped out on a brokerage house that offered expensive advice. I wanted to learn about the market myself. We have an endless heap of knowledge known as the internet at our fingertips. I just figured I would research all the stocks myself and this would help me understand the market better and further my knowledge. Also with such low commission rates it makes sense for us millennials because we don’t have all this extra money to just toss around, the fees do tend to add up if you trade a lot.

What I learned after my first few weeks of trading was that once you put some skin in the game, you are more motivated to learn and understand where your money is going and how the system works. It was definitely one of the big motivating factors. You tend to watch the news more and pay attention to worldly events and the market. I always wanted to know what the market was doing. You will quickly learn that stock prices are more heavily influenced by the news rather than how the company may actually be doing according to numbers. So if you pay attention you can make predictions on when you may want to buy a certain security or sell, sell, sell.

The first $200 I ACH’d into the platform bought me a learning experience that I really don’t think I could’ve gotten anywhere else. It was worth every penny. This blurb of an article is just a little piece of insight to get anyone who is thinking about trading stocks or learning more about the process to consider the benefits and the knowledge that you can gain from learning to invest and what I wish someone told me before I knew anything about investing. Good Luck!

So you want to be Rich? 9 tips to get you started

The other day I read a fact on the internet: “The middle class today is 20% poorer than the middle class 30 years ago, in 1984.” At first I was startled by this statistic, but then I thought about it more. It all started to make sense to me. I thought about money… how money in this day and age, has become such a taboo topic. It’s like, we sit around looking at Instagram and Facebook photos of everyone flashing their wealth or attempted portrayals of lives they want to appear to be living. Money is a tool, and while it may seem to cause more problems than good, we all want it. If you are serious about obtaining this tool, as we often don’t like to admit, continue reading. I have compiled a list below of tips to help you take yourself more seriously and make more money.

1. Go where the money is. Wealthy people don’t become wealthy by staying in one place, simply hoping to win the lottery. You have to be proactive by relocating yourself to areas where larger influxes of money are more common. Money breeds money, it’s a natural fact of life. So if you want to increase your chances for making some, you first have to find where it is being made.

2. Don’t show off. Showing off your money is for people who either don’t have it or have just come into a lot of it too quickly—new money, for lack of a better term. As I’ve mentioned previously (and will continue to mention) investing your money is key! Yes, while it may be a fun drunk activity to try to impress girls by buying bottle service in meatpacking with your $10k bonus, but everyone sobers up eventually and you want your money to be there when you do too. Be smart, and let your money work for you in the future. Whether it be investing in your 401k or in a small business venture, both options have a greater return value than a one-night stand with a social climber.

3. Show up. Another quote for you today: “80% of success in life is just showing up.” Even when it’s a struggle, you don’t want to miss a day taking a step toward achieving your goals. Perseverance is very important, even when you feel discouraged. In sales they use the phrase “pounding the pavement” to represent this idea. This means physically going out and making sales happen, shaking hands and kissing babies… basically doing whatever it takes to get ahead. Keep this in mind. Alcoholics don’t go to one AA meeting and call themselves sober. It takes time and effort. Always show up.

4. Find a mentor. If you don’t know how to make money on your own, there are plenty of people out there who do. Network and ask successful individuals for advice and guidance. A lot of times people will be more willing to help out than you might think, or they might have other connections that may lead you to future job opportunities or business ventures. Remember money breeds money.

5. Avoid debt when there is no return on the charge. My father once told me “don’t put it on your credit card unless it will pay you back or last you for more than a few months.” He was right. Only invest with money you don’t have if it’s going to pay you back the same amount or more. Do not ever put yourself in a position where you have to work for your money. You always want your money to be working for you. So be smart, invest wisely, and think thrice about what you are swiping your credit card for.

6. Shoot big. So you want to be wealthy!? Instead of aiming for $1 million, aim for $10 or $20 million dollars. Lofty goals will keep you hungry and make you less likely to settle after your first big paycheck. Many people stop working hard after they feel comfortable enough. This is why lottery winners never stay millionaires for long. If lotto winners had a financial savvy mindset (side note: they likely wouldn’t be playing the lottery in the first place), they would invest their money. And the disappointment that 80% go bankrupt after a few years (fact), would not exist.

7. Understand that Money doesn’t sleep. Just like the Michael Douglas in the classic Wall Street. You have to be a hard worker. Even though your job ends at 5pm, this does not mean the opportunities to make more money do as well. Opportunities to make more money are always arising, day or night, you just have to go out and find them.

8. Treat money like its a girlfriend. Keep a close eye on your wealth and money. If you don’t make your money your number #1 priority, it is going to leave you and walk right into the hands of someone else. So don’t ignore money because after a while it will end up ignoring you.

9. If you want to be rich avoid embracing the idea of being poor. If you want to truly be happy, this does not make sense. Yes, yes I know the saying that goes something like “it’s not about they money, it’s about being happy.” Well let’s be honest for a brief moment here. Whoever said that, definitely did not live in our generation. Money can bring you a lot more happiness than financial insecurity. No matter how happy you think you are, nothing is worse than not knowing when your next meal will be or how you will make next months rent. Stress resulting from financial insecurity can make even the most optimistic person unhappy. Money gives you more freedom in life… freedom to live how you want to live. As selfish Americans, we know how important our freedom is.

Be A Wolf And Ace That Interview

A good interview has the power to change your career, the power to change your life. When I first started looking for a job, I was living at home in Vermont. After multiple months of networking and resumé forwarding, I received a phone call from a mutual connection that informed me there was a position opening at a bank in New York City. Despite my initial interest in Boston, I accepted the interview offer. This was an opportunity I could not pass up, the real deal. Two days later I was on a plane that was landing in JFK.

This wasn’t my first job offer or even my first interview. I knew the general expectations and had memorized a few “go to” questions, in case any awkward silences crept into the conversation. However, I had a feeling this interview would become a pivotal point in my career and my life. I knew I had to prepare much more thoroughly for this than I had ever done before. Since I am currently working at this bank, my gut tells me my preparation paid off. Below I am going to share with you some of the steps I took to ensure a smooth interview and to increase the likelihood of nailing the job interview.

The overall picture: The reason a company is interviewing you is because they want to see if you are mentally capable of holding an intelligent conversation with someone that you have never met. Now the added pressure doesn’t help this situation. Bottom line though, a person who works well under pressure demonstrates the capacity to work diligently enough to handle a difficult job.

Your resumé needs to be impeccable. End of story. I had over ten people analyze and spellcheck my resumé before I even started interviewing or forwarding it to anyone. There are no excuses for mistakes. When finalizing your dictation, perspective is important to remember. The person reading your resumé will be reading hundreds of other ones just like yours. After getting bored, it is likely they skim more quickly over the wordier ones. Stand out and impress your potential boss by describing your experience as sophisticatedly as possible, using the least amount of words.

Dress: If you’re a guy, you need to wear a suit. This is a must. Girls, you know what to do as well. You also need to have all the bases covered. These include facial grooming, quaft hair and clothing with absolutely zero wrinkles. The little things do matter now. You should try to act like you just came out of a GQ magazine article. Employers will judge you on your looks more than you would think, so don’t give them a reason not to hire you based on your appearance. I’ve talked to many employers and executives. Trust me.

Dominate the interview; show confidence while casually building rapport with your interviewer. Find a common point of interest and focus your conversation on those grounds so you can relate more easily to them. This could be something about a mutual school, club, sport or hobby that they may mention. This can also be used as a way to answer the more deep personality or experience questions they may fire at you later on.

You should be the interviewer. The employer wants to hire someone who is passionate. The best way to show passion is to be curious and ask questions. When I interviewed in New York, I researched the crap out of the industry and the company. I’m fairly certain that I asked more questions than the person who interviewed me. The night before my interview, I came up with almost 50 specific and technical questions that I could ask to show how passionate and ambitious I was. I typed them all out so they were easily accessible.  During my interview I pulled out the list and asked if I could interviewer for a little bit. I’ve heard of Ivy League grads who looked good on paper, but were eventually denied because they failed to ask questions. Don’t let this be you. Ask questions! People love to talk about themselves.

Be yourself. Remember that you are going to be working many hours at your job and people want to be around someone enjoyable and friendly. After I was hired, my boss said that one of the reasons I was appealing as a hire was because I was someone that he could easily imagine drinking a beer with or talking business outside of the office. He saw this in me more than in the other applicants he interviewed. So lastly, relax, be yourself and remember to smile too!

Interview hack for investment banking interviews: download the WallStreet Oasis interview guide. This is the only publication that incorporates real interview questions and thousands of interview insights that are shared in their company database. Reading this will help you out tons.

Treat Your Life Like A Business With These 3 Statements

Businesses, like people come in all shapes and sizes. From big corporations, partnerships to sole proprietorships and LLC’s. These companies can range from businesses like Apple or Google to your sisters haircutting service or the local popcorn salesman on Main Street. You are a business, every day you make financial decisions and transactions with your finances to better yourself. You are constantly mirroring the acts of businesses all around you. Therefore, in order to be financially successful in your life you should always be thinking and acting like a business would, except instead working for a  product or service, you are in business for yourself and your product is a fulfilled life and financial security.

Budgeting with a ‘business sense’ is one of the tools that will get you there. A budget can be created by using the information from 3 different statements that businesses use everyday.  Like any business, you need to keep in touch with your accounting and finance department regularly in order to make smart life/financial decisions. This way you are aware of where your money is going and how you can make it work for you in order to get the best possible return. Using these statements or a financial tool like mint.com will help you keep track of your finances and how much you are spending and are going to spend on your “business”.

Income Statement

This is the statement that shows you your income in relation to your expenses. This statement usually is a single column report with income at the top showing your personal revenue. It doesn’t matter if the money is coming in from your job or other alternative sources of income., this just shows your inflow. The expenses are your outflow. The report will give you your NOI (net operating income) which is basically your personal profit. This will let you know if you are spending too much money. This way you can tell if you need to stop shopping in SoHo on Saturdays or buying too much late night pizza on the Lower East Side at 4am.

sdf

(Click to Enlarge)

Balance Sheet

The balance sheet is your statement that tells you your net value at any given time. This statement breaks down your assets and your liabilities and what you physically own (equity). Here you will show your assets on the left column. These are things  like your cash, money that people owe you, your car, house, value of your investments etc. The right side has your liabilities. These are your debts, such as loans that you have yet to repay for a house or car, and/or your credit card debt. The left side is also where you put your equity. This is essentially your value or ‘net worth’. Your assets are going to equal your liabilities plus your equity. So the right side should equal the left. See below for a visual representation.

rgw1

Statement of Cash Flows

The statement of cash flows is important because this is where you are able to financially model where you will be at any given point in time.  this future value is based on certain assumptions such as how much you predict you will be making and how much you will be spending at a future point. This shows on a scale of time your income minus expenses.  It is usually a good idea to stay on the more conservative side because the future is never certain.  So it’s good to not overestimate income and underestimate expenses. Using this statement is helpful because you can see where in the future you will be able to afford more expensive things like a new car or vacation. This will keep you prepared. Click on the visual to see how this works.

table5

Even if you’re personal versions of these statements are on the more basic level that is okay. You are still making progress and will be more financially informed about your money. These are just power-ups to bring your budget to the next level. I would recommend updating them once a month, so you can always have an accurate sense of where you are. When finances are constantly on your mind you will be more self-aware when spending and save more money.

So you Graduated…Get a Job, and Here’s How

So you just graduated. You listened to the commencement speech, grabbed your diploma, sobered up from those nights of endless college drinking and you are hungry for the world and what it has to offer.

The only problem now is you need a job and a place to apply this thirst for success and a real paycheck. Big dreams are good at this point but you need to stay in the present moment to in order succeed. Creating unrealistic expectations can only bring disappointment . The first thing you need to do is sit down with a pen and paper and brainstorm. Its easy to just come up with stuff in your head but it can sharpen your focus if you start trying to physically map where you want to be realistically on paper. Dont fret, I was in this position one year ago. I graduated with no job and worried thoughts about what i was going to do just like you.

Here are my list of tips that i have personally found helpful during my search for a job.

  • Network. I really can’t stress this enough. You should treat yourself like a start up business and market the crap out of it. Go out of your way to meet, talk, impress and wow people around you in the field you are looking to go into. This is how you get a foot into the door. Research the industry and the different jobs you are interested in like crazy. Talk to people, be hungry and stay hungry. Your dad’s uncle’s best friend knows a guy at the company you want to work for? Pick up the phone and try to call that guy, stay in touch and check in with him every 4 days. People respond to persistence and passion. If you really want something you will make it happen, if you don’t you will make excuses. When I was starting out I went to many meetings and lunches with different bankers from large and small banks time and time again to just finish the meetings with them telling me that they didn’t have any job openings but they knew another guy at another bank that could help me out. I would shake hands, thank them for their time, and then immediately call their contact. I did this many times before finally landing an interview. It worked, because I didn’t give up. The more you network the easier it will become and the better you will be at it. Remember, you will most likely be working for someone in the baby boomer generation so  you have to relate to them by picking up the phone sometimes and not just using email or linkedIn.
  • Find a headhunter or a recruiting agency. These are people who’s main job is to find you a job. They are paid by the company to seek talent. Most headhunters will charge you nothing for their services. These are a great resource because they will set you up for interviews, and help you prepare for the interviews. They want you to get a job just as bad as you do because that is how they get paid. Even if you don’t get a job through a headhunter the whole process will help you practice for interviews and give you good experience for the jobs you do want or come across.
  • Go to networking events and in your field. these are great ways to meet people who could possibly help you find a job. from what I’ve learned working in the city is that everybody knows at least 5 people who have the potential to help you in a big way in landing a job, so you should never underestimate the power of a smile and a handshake. it can get you a lot farther than you ever imagined.
  • Don’t limit yourself to possibilities and don’t stop searching until you have an OFFER! Jobs are like girlfriends or boyfriends. Always be looking for potential matches when on the market. Just because you have a prospect doesn’t mean you should stop pursuing other opportunities. Keep the search going until you have that offer at the very end.
  • Talk to your friends who have jobs at companies, get insight on what they do and what their company is like. If you think it would be a good match ask them if they know anyone in HR that you could reach out to. Many times people get bonuses for finding talent or potential employees, so its a good incentive for both of you. LinkedIn is a good source for this as well, usually you can see where your connections work, don’t be afraid to reach out.
  • Dont rule out opportunities. I always liked the sales phrase, “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work”. This rings true because if you want a job you should be doing whatever means possible. I remember that I was on tinder one day which is the cell phone dating app and I gave my resume to a girl who I talking to whose dad worked for a hedge fund in Boston. I was doing whatever it took.
  • Don’t give up. Jobs usually come from the most unlikely places. Just because you got an automated rejection email from State Street doesn’t mean that you are a failure. Try to stay away from just applying online to companies through the career website, or your schools job link. Many times those online applications are screened extremely loosely and if you don’t have much going for you on paper you’re likely to get rejected because it doesn’t give employers an full picture of the real you. I was also talking to a couple employers and many said that those sites just feed to the HR spam email folder and many are rarely looked at.
  • My last piece of advice is to not care about what other people think. This is your life, you need to hound people for a job. Don’t be afraid to really get their attention and don’t be passive because employers have a lot on their mind and will easily forget about potential candidates if they aren’t constantly being put in front of them. So make sure you dial that phone and send those emails reminding them who you are and what you want. My dad’s buddy once told me that he stood outside of a company in a suit everyday waiting for the employer to give him a job. His dedication and persistence paid off because even though he thought it was weird, he knew that my dad’s friend was hungry and dedicated. That’s what employers are looking for.

Good Luck and Let the Game of Life begin!