The Stock Market is for... Medical Students? An Interview & Success Story
Update 2/21/2017: I (Mr. MedSchool Money) have begun my stock investment portfolio with a small piece of my income. It isn't much, but skin in the game keeps me paying attention and learning.
We have all heard the tales of stock market success. How a little bit of digging uncovered a whole lot of cash. I have been intrigued by the stock market for the past year, spending some of my free time using Investopedia's Stock Simulator to test my skills with fake money (paper trading). Thankfully it is fake, because I have only lost money so far. I still maintain my view that the stock market could be a powerful tool in the toolbelt of a smart, savvy medical student willing to put in a little extra work every day.
To that end, I came across a fellow medical student who was making the stock market gig work. He treats it like a job and has been quite successful from a "Make Money in Med School" point of view. I interviewed him for you, my wonderful reader. Enjoy and comment below!
When and how did you get into stock market trading?
For me, it started when I was in sixth grade. We played the Stock Market game where we each had $100,000 of fake money. I chose to invest it in an up and coming company called Google for $99/share. A few years later, while in high school, I stumbled upon the price of Google stock and saw that it was now $400+/share. That’s when I thought, hmm I should really look more into this!
After high school, I took a gap year and worked a full-time job. From that income, I set aside $3,000 to start investing.
How much time do you spend in a day?
On a typical day, I spend 30 minutes in the morning before heading to rotations reading the news and market info online. If I am on a busy rotation, I will limit it to 10 minutes to start the day, and then review more as needed time permitting. This naturally makes me focus on longer-term investments.
What’s the most you’ve made in 1 day?
Whats the most you’ve lost in 1 day?
What’s the difference between the stock market and gambling?
Sometimes there may be no difference. It depends on your investment strategy. You are doing your best to make informed decisions. I think arguments can be made either way regarding if it is gambling or not. There is always inherent risk in whatever you choose. If your definition of gambling is something that has risk, then the stock market definitely has that. But, even holding cash is a risk. You’re trusting the government to retain the value of what that paper stands for. Look at what happened in India this past month (Nov 2016) to fight corruption the government devalued all the 500 rupee notes. This not only affected the corrupt elites but also the common villagers whose savings were in cash. At the end of the day money is paper and your investment decisions will be based on your risk tolerance.
What industries do you invest in? How did you choose that industry?
I choose to invest mainly in healthcare, specifically the biotech industry. It is what I understand, especially being in medical school, this is a relevant area to my life. It’s what I’m comfortable with. You shouldn’t invest in companies or industries that you don’t understand.
How do you choose a stock?
I first find what I think to be a good product or idea. In the biotech industry this means it is going towards a market that needs a solution, ie. a new drug that has a unique mechanism of action or novel use. I then aim for a one year position in the company, with the plan that I will reevaluate the investment at six months. The benefit of a 1 year position is that it minimizes your capital gains tax to 10%, vs 30% for any shorter positions. I like to reevaluate at 6 months because I’m always looking for the next best thing and you have to think about opportunity costs.
I do my taxes through Turbo Tax, which allows me to directly import my trades. It is simple and easy to use however there is a cost associated with it.
If a fellow med student is interested in learning how to invest, what would you recommend?
Read and learn first. Practice with fake money. Unless you have a good savings already, I wouldn’t take the risk. Like I said before, I had money set aside from my previous job during my gap year. Once you do have savings, set aside money you’re willing to lose. Research is absolutely essential. You have to put in the time every day to read and be informed about your companies.
Don’t ever be emotional when it comes to investing. Don’t ever buy something because you feel like you’re missing out. Same goes with holding. Don’t hold something you “feel” might go up. Also, don’t buy in the morning, when prices are high. Simple advice- buy low, sell high.
Thanks for reading! Here are a few of my favorite takeaways:
Thanks for reading this interview! Here's some of my favorite take-aways:
1. Don't invest unless you have the margin to do so
2. Research, Research, Research
3. Don't be emotional
Here's another link to the Investopedia Stock Simulator if you're interested in practicing and a closing argument...
Even if you plan on paying someone to do your investing for you someday, it behooves to get involved somewhat in watching the stock market at some point (better sooner than later in my opinion). You'll want to know if the hundreds or thousands of dollars you're paying someone a year is being put to good use or if they are just burying your money in a hole of a mutual fund that is hardly better than a savings account. Just my $.02.
Happy New Year!