Whatever we do for work, the question arises “Why am I doing this?” The question looms large if one works within an institution, and career development has to be considered along with work content. However, if you work outside an institution, the question comes up, too, though with some different issues, as one works without the support or tensions that are within organizations. For someone who is trying to make a living from being a retail trader in financial markets it is a very relevant question. I am going to tackle some of that over coming days.
I spent the Presidents’ Day holiday weekend in New York at a Traders Expo. I had attended last year but had not initially planned to go again this year. I had found it interesting to see the range of people attending the ‘show’, but had found a wide range of quality from the various sessions. The professionals who attend as exhibitors have their corporate needs and selling their products and services is important. I do not know whether there is value for money for them in attending, but that’s their issue.
Last year, I enjoyed greatly meeting some professional foreign exchange traders who had been sharing their ideas with a group of their clients, and who appeared very personable. Those professionals added a dimension that is very important, not least in reminding constantly of some simple lessons that are often forgotten. I looked forward to seeing some of them again, having maintained contact through electronic means. I had found useful the opportunity to network and meet others trying their hand at retail trading. Those opportunities to network spurred me to make last-minute plans to go to New York.
Over the past year, I have made more use of the social media site, Twitter. Financial market activity fits well into the easy-to-broadcast style of tweets, even with the tight limitation of 140 characters. The essence of a message can be very brief. You can make content fuller by linking to written material, charts or pictures. I have no intention of developing a following on Twitter, but as common interests are discovered I follow people or organizations for that reason, and similarly I am followed. It is a rich environment where, despite the ‘noise’ of the many styles of tweets, quality comments come out. But, filtering is one challenge. Of course, it is easy to find people who support your views. But, I enjoy seeing the wide array of comments from organizations and their professionals and a great array of individuals who want to write something. Gradually, you find people who seem worthwhile, and their handling of topics with integrity is often part of their currency.
One body of commentators have folded themselves together under the umbrella of StockTwits, which offers a specialised area for people wanting to stream commentary on a range of financial topics. With the addition of a few ‘tags’, topics can be followed. I had not been using this website myself. However, it was apparent that a body of respected commentators sought to funnel their remarks through it.
Over two days, I met a number of retail traders with whom I had been exchanging comments during the past year. One refreshing aspect of Twitter, as far as I have been concerned, is that people are not afraid to put up pictures of themselves as part of their ‘identity’. So, it was very easy to find people: their faces looked like their pictures. There was discovery in seeing the rest of their bodies 🙂 None of us had ever met before, so totally new acquaintances were being made. Over the weekend we had a number of conversations, bilaterally or in a bigger group, including over some lunches and during a happy hour hosted by StockTwits.
For most of us, being at the show meant that we were not trading–admitted, part of the time was during a United States-only holiday, but other markets were open. Some of us had the thought that perhaps the absence of generally available wireless Internet access was perhaps meant to ensure that attendants did not spend their time trading rather than cruising the halls. That led to a few wry smiles.
The conversations raised some interesting issues and I will develop a few of those in coming days. For the moment, I will just take the opportunity to say that it was a pleasure to meet for the first time some who are part of a vibrant online community of retail traders. I also had some nice reconnections with professional traders whom I continue to respect for what they do and how they do it.