WALL STREET –
Predicting which shares will go up in price on the stock exchange can make or break a trader’s career. And with the unpredictability of the current administration in the White House, it has become even trickier to figure out how individual companies may perform in the future.
However, hedge fund manager Walter Kermanium lately has been less focused on research and more focused on his golf game, thanks to a pile of Scrabble letters he keeps in his desk drawer.
Putting In The Work
“I used to sweat the research big time. It was all-consuming and took up most of my nights and weekends. I would even sleep in the office sometimes to make sure I got the latest data from Asia at 3AM, so that my figures were up to date. It was really a grind.”
After awhile, all that time spent doing research started to take its toll on the 42 year old financial adviser. “I was missing events for my kids – soccer games, school programs. My marriage suffered. I couldn’t hit a golf ball to save my life. Things were not going well.”
“And then along came Donald Trump. And it got harder and harder to figure out what’s going to happen tomorrow, let alone next quarter.”
Pulling The Handle
“Then, one day, I was in the dining room on the phone with my boss taking some heat, and I looked down at a pile of Scrabble letters that were left on the floor by my son.”
There, in the middle of the jumbled pile, Mr. Kermanium saw the letters KXQ. “I don’t know why I did it exactly, but I told my boss I had the next big thing, and that the next big thing was KXQ.”
KXQ, an obscure Taiwanese start-up that had recently posted a small profit in Q2, does not make a lot of data publicly available. “When I got off the phone, I did a quick google search and not much came up. But at that point it didn’t really matter. I had recommended it to my boss and I was committed. So I bought 100,000 shares.”
“The funny thing was, it took off like a rocket. It increased threefold in the span of a few hours. I looked like a genius the next day in the office, and that’s the moment it dawned on me: I was in a casino. This was a big game, and all I needed to do was relax, and just pull the handle.”
Making Zero Difference
After realizing he did just as well picking stocks randomly out of thin air, as he did pouring over reams of data, Mr. Kermanium began using Scrabble letters to pick all of his stocks.
“There’s so much pressure to make picks that are profitable. You don’t last long in this business if you aren’t generating wealth for your clients. However, once I realized that no one has any idea what President Trump will do next, and that the stock market was just a giant crap shoot, I learned to not worry any more,” he said, chuckling. “It was very liberating.”
Turning Things Around
Since then, Mr. Kermanium has had a lot more time to enjoy life. “Who knew one fifth of the US economy was based on smoke and mirrors? I didn’t. But when I started asking around the office, turns out lots of traders had no idea what they were buying, either.”
“It’s just a guessing game now. Fritz Lemon throws darts at a board. Bob Brunell eats alphabet soup every day for lunch. Margaret Sanchella picks stocks off of license plates on her way in to the office.”
“It’s kind of funny if you stop to think about it.”
“My clients have no idea what is going on, of course. But really the outcome is the same, so there is no way they’ll catch on. And we can always blame any problems on the the unpredictability in Washington. In fact, since I look tan and well-rested now when I meet with them, they feel like they are talking to a winner. It’s a win-win all the way around.”
With a romantic cruise to the Bahamas scheduled for early fall, and lots of time to spend with his kids, Mr. Kermanium’s personal life has never been better. He even has time to volunteer at his church.
And ironically, relying on random chance to make his work life more effcient has allowed him to brush up on a bona fide skill in his leisure time. “The best thing of all has been my putting,” he smiled.
“It’s been the best investment I made all year.”
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