Stocktoberfest – Why I’m Going Again

I’m a regular user of Stocktwits but I’m certainly not actively engaged in the community. I find the site a great source – perhaps the best – for real-time data on names that I’m interested in.  I also find it extremely noisy and not particularly good at helping me with my portfolio management style that I practice in my client book. The ratio of traders to investors at the site is highly biased to trading. That’s not to say that traders can’t profit by it. I’m sure many can and do.  The short term mind-set just isn’t very helpful to me though.  Since I’ve been in the market for nearly 40 years and running OPM for 18, I have many other sources that I rely upon which are more helpful to me. But that’s me.

On October 27th and 28th the gang at Stocktwits will host its third annual Stocktoberfest. I’m going again for the second time after I was so impressed with last years program. That said, what I got from the event last year was not what I expected and, to a certain extent, had much less to do with trading than it did with getting a broader view of the state of the investing world. I figured it might be helpful to some who are considering going what I found least and most valuable. I’ll start with the least.

I’m a crusty old fossil in comparison to the bulk of the attendees.  I felt out of place much of the time in the company of the young quick-draw traders. But I can ignore that since my time in the business informs me that trading rock stars come and go.

There were multiple presentations on technical analysis which, as we all know, is the style du jour in investment analysis. Most of the TA presentations were pretty rudimentary and much less than what one can learn inside of books on the subject. Considering my bias is much more based on fundamental analysis, I learned very little from those presentations. For the young or inexperienced trader, to be sure, the speakers on TA are people who everyone is wise to follow. The value, then, was in who was talking rather than what they were saying.

There was also next to nothing on portfolio risk management and asset allocation. But I had no expectations of that given that the subject matter is extremely arcane and better suited to a professional money mangers venue. I do think there might be some place for more of it though. In my experience it’s risk management that really delivers long-term alpha and it’s been under-mentioned for the last few years.

On the plus side, there were many great presentations on the state of financial/market technology. I found the segments on those subject matters to be both interesting and exciting. They provided a glimpse over the horizon on the evolution of tools available to both individual and professional investors that are disrupting the foothold of sell-side Wall Street and the entrenched purveyors of financial data. This year’s roster looks like there will be more of the same and that alone is worth the price of admission. The investment world is changing rapidly and those who can find the new tools are the one’s that will succeed. Miss this at your own peril.

There was this other “thing” though that is the primary reason I’m going back – the “smart kids.”

Howard Lindzon, it appears, uses events like these to bring young entrepreneurs and money together. I met many people who were in early stage start-ups looking for financial backing or a niche in which to fit their efforts. Most of these people were so impressive I have a hard time articulating how blindingly bright they are. One after another were, as I said at the time, “wicked smart” (but maybe that says something about my dullness.) Their energy was contagious and there foresight unfamiliar. I hope to meet more of these people and I hope to develop relationships with some of them if luck allows.

I left last year with my batteries recharged with an optimistic view of the future.  That was the real serendipity. The energy carried me for a good six months and renewed my interest in paying a lot of attention to the innovator class in our economy.

If you’re considering going I’d advise you do. No matter who you are you’ll leave better for it.

I’m hoping for a repeat of last year. I’m also hoping my expectations aren’t too high. But if I come away with half of what I gained last year you can bet I’ll go again next year.

It was that good.



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