Imtiaz Gadar, CFA is the Head of Public Markets at Bank Alfalah, Pakistan. Previously he served as the Head of Research at KASB Securities (Partner of BOA Merill Lynch) as well as JP Morgan. He was ranked as the best analyst in Pakistan four times by Asia Money and the CFA Association of Pakistan. He also served as the Vice President of the CFA Society in Pakistan.
Since this is a finance related blog page, I felt it my duty to ensure that my friend Asif’s blog doesn’t run too dry. So here is some relatively lighter stuff.
If you are linked to the investment business (especially stock market), you might have had a similar experience, that, during bull markets, going to a wedding is like a deep-sea dive into the Pacific Ocean. The different breeds of sea-animals (investors, wanna be investors, speculators) that you come across is amazing.
People who are waiting for their cabbie or plumber to discuss stocks for them to conclude that the stock market is in bubble mode are way behind the curve. They should just go to a wedding and they will know the extent of the bubble.
At first I used to be amazed at the variety, just like a first time deep-sea diver but then I slowly started noticing a trend and categorized them in breeds.
Below is my personal classification of the breeds. Would be happy to hear any other variants you would have met.
Breed # 1: Frequent suspects: The ‘hot tip’ seekers
This is the most common breed and their pace of reproduction increases manifold in bull markets. Some of them are courteous enough to strike a preamble to the conversation before coming to the point, but you can sense it that they are just being nice. Some of them, however make you feel that even if you walked in limping and bleeding in front of them, their only question would be; So, what do you make of the stock market run these days, any tips?
Breed # 2: The penny stock holders
This is the guy whose interactions vary on how long he is holding that penny stock. If he has just gotten into that stock, he will drive you crazy with his bullishness on that stock. If he can have it his way, he would make sure you issue a buy report on it next morning or broke the stock to all your clients. He would actually prefer if you don’t wait for the morning and do something in the middle of the night, because the stock is just so damn hot.
Similarly, if it’s been some time since he has held that stock without the multi-bagger luck as yet BUT he remains optimistic that it will perform, it’s your moral obligation to tell him something good about the stock. Suggesting him to cut his losses and get out is just too inhuman. You have to have a heart and agree to his bullishness.
But if unfortunately the stock turns out to be a dog of a penny stock and the holder has already lost his hope, he transforms into guy#3 (see below)
Breed # 3: Those who think that the stock market is unfair
This is a breed that gets extinct in bull markets. But if you do find one, they are worth their weight in gold. Their once upon a time stories of losing their shirts and along it their belief that the market was fair, makes you realize how brutal corrections can be. Having said that the impact is not going to last beyond that conversation as you will walk away thinking either of two things: 1) this time it’s different or 2) I am not stupid like him. I will play it smartly and time my exit. You will rue those thoughts later, but that’s another topic altogether.
Breed # 4: Those who have nothing to do with the stock market
If you are lucky, this guy will talk to you about something other than the market and you will finally feel that God exists and you are in an actual social gathering and not in a an extension of your work place. However if the bull market is really rampant and this guy regrets not getting onto it due to lack of interest, lack of risk appetite or because his father was Breed # 3, he will try to convince you that not investing in the stock market is a very well thought out decision (which can be painful as he talks about macro imbalances and what not)
Breed #5: The guy who knows the market better than you do
What do I say about Guy # 5? He has an air of arrogance around him and only two people can feel it. Him and you. Others around you might be oblivious but you can spot one in a crowd. Stand with him in a group and he will stay silent for most part, waiting to pounce at the right point and prove he knows more than you. Depending on your mood, you might find it funny or offensive but find such people you will, even if their bread and butter is running a tailor shop.
Key however is to beware the role reversal
You might hate Breed # 5 but what the heck, you play Breed # 5 to absolute perfection if someone is showing off his knowledge about stocks, don’t you? It’s just natural. We are just too proud of the profession we are in. But you know when we are really irritating. It’s when we turn into Breed # 1 once we see someone working for a company whose stock we have an interest in. We strike the normal pleasantries but our sole purpose is to know how the market response to their new product has been or how the organization is responding to change in management, the ONLY difference probably is that we are more desperate in BEAR markets, so in a way we still are unique, aren’t we?
Disclaimer: My only experience has been of an emerging/frontier market and the same might not be true for developed markets. In addition, this is my personal experience and written just for humour purposes. Just for Breed # 5 out there. I concede you can do it better than me, so please enlighten me!