Insights From A Millennial Institutional Trader

Voleo  |

These are investment insights you’re going to love, and totally relate to; how to get involved with investing from a millennial stock-trader.

As an institutional sales trader newly based in San Francisco, Taylor Ortiz’s career may be centered around the stock market, but her focus is centred on creating unique and differentiated value for her clients – something the financial industry lacks today.

In just her mid-twenties, Taylor has worked as a trader covering west coast and european financial institutions, tapping into her own well-developed network to ensure that even challenging market liquidity doesn’t stifle her ability to meet client needs.

Interestly, her career began as an intern in London with luxury accessory brand Anya Hindmarch as a public relations intern. While PR and marketing has always been of interest, time spent curating a thoughtful investment portfolio with her Dad lured her to further explore the world of finance.

After testing the waters with two internships, one in which she assisted with Dodd-Frank implementation classes (the federal legislation passed to ensure financial institutions were responsibily leveraged post-recession), Taylor moved onto a trading desk in Aspen where it was her responsibility to find and optimize stock trades between two natural parties.

Her next move would be to San Francisco with a global financial institution, where after a year and a half, she has fully transitioned into the NorCal lifestyle, rock-climbing, paddle boarding, and wine-sampling on weekends.

We met up with Taylor to chat about how she got into trading and the top tips she would recommend to get started.

How would you explain your profession over drinks?

At events I usually simplify it to, “I trade large amounts of stock on behalf of hedge funds and financial institutions. So if a hedge fund is looking to buy one million shares of a publically traded company, it is often faster and (hopefully) cheaper for the fund to use a broker such as myself than buying the stock themselves.”

As a trader operating on east coast market hours, what does your daily routine look like?

Great question! It requires discipline! I have about 4 alarms set and am out the door by 4:00 am. I’m at work from about 4:30 am – 1:30 pm. As a trader you need to be in front of the markets in case of any sudden changes that affect your trades so I try to pack my own meals, which often include two breakfasts because of how early I’m up!

The market closes at 1:00 pm here which opens up my afternoon to a workout outside (SF is the best city for running) and happy hour once everyone else is off work. I try to have any client entertainment start and end early. It’s a daily goal to be in bed by 9:00 pm. I drink copious amounts of lemon water to keep me energized through the day, but a couple cups of coffee early in the morning are always necessary!

As for the work itself, I’m on my first call to London to hear what has already happened in the Asian and European markets on my way to work.

4:30 am – 8:00 am is my busiest time of day. This time is spent talking to clients about what stocks are moving, writing morning reports on the markets, and emailing news or research I believe my clients would find valuable. Being an institutional sales trader is all about attention to detail and hustling so your clients can make decisions on the markets or at least inform their portfolio managers.

From the market open at 6:30 am onwards work continues with constant information updates and trading the orders my clients send me. The final hustle is from 12:00 – 1:00 pm, then pencils down; the markets are closed.

What was your entry point into finance; what led you into a financial sector career?

In college I was introduced to options trading through an internship in Chicago working as a marketing assistant. Marketing taught me the language and intricacies of the financial markets and I quickly became hooked.

I actually started my career as a sales trader from bartending.

While that was my introduction, I actually started my career as a sales trader from bartending. I was a bartender after college to make some quick cash and some guys came in and saw my ability to multi task, listen to guests, and hustle… I guess the skills are transferable!

Before I knew it they had asked me if I’d be interested in equity trading and I was intrigued! One month later I threw in the towel at the bar (literally!) and started on the desk as a clerk to 10 traders!

You must receive a lot of questions from friends and acquaintances about how to get involved with investing and with the markets, what advice do you give them?

All the time!! When they ask me I answer them with a question: “What are you reading right now that has to do with investing?” More often than not the answer is “Uhhhh nothing! Help!” That is where you start, with educating yourself.

Start investing by educating yourself; read!

So my first piece of advice is READ READ READ. I recommend Barron’s. Just start with one paper. Next step would be Financial Times out of London and Bloomberg Businessweek.

Second step: read about topics that interest you. Just because everyone is talking about infrastructure with the Trump administration doesn’t mean you need to join the chatter. Maybe you love reading travel blogs…thought about investing in Expedia (EXPE) or airlines (UAL, LUV) and the details behind those stocks? Reading about areas of interest will prompt you to learn about dividend yields, investment strategies, and earnings season!

Too afraid to stock pick? I get it. So read up on funds that fit your investment solutions. These publications talk about numerous investment options. Vanguard has a great selection of funds for any income and risk level. From there start to educate yourself on the portfolios you are looking at.

Too afraid to stock pick? I get it. Read up on funds that fit your investment solutions.

What is the most commonly held misconception about investing in the stock market?

That you need money to play in the stock market and people feel as though they don’t have enough. Fair point and I’ve been there myself. But what if you managed to set aside just $500 over time and then honed in on one sector you are interested in? Learn to trust yourself with educated risk, collaborate with others; set yourself up with a group of friends in an investment club… wink, wink! One example I tell people is that I knew nothing about chip and semiconductor space a year ago. I knew the idea but didn’t trade them that often for clients until I kept hearing about Nvidia on the news. After reading all about the space and this company I bought 10 shares at $43. That was all I could afford at the time. Today its trading at $147…that’s a 242% return… Just sayin’ (of course I’ve had losses in other stocks but nothing that I couldn’t afford).

How do you think a collaborative investment club can change the outcome of a portfolio?

It could allot for some seriously positive change! With collaboration, you not only learn more but your peers may spot opportunity you didn’t see and vice versa! Plus, as I said before everyone’s interests can really allow for a diversified portfolio. That opens the doors to a ton of opportunity in order to invest wisely!

With investment collaboration, not only do you learn more but your peers may also spot opportunity you didn’t see!

In addition an investment club can discuss strategies to hedging or more complicated products like ETFs or swaps as learning as a group is less daunting than as an individual.

When it comes to your own investments, how do you determine your investment goals, and how have you decided where to prioritize your resources?

Because I work in the industry I have to get permission for any trade I execute and have to hold a stock for 30 days. So my investment goals are focused on long term gains in growth stocks. I am in my 20s and more focused on gains than dividend paying stocks but I never put on a position that would keep me awake at night. I trade stocks to learn and find opportunity that will hopefully lead to a big gain.

My investment goals are focused on long term gains in growth stocks. In my 20s, I’m focused on gains rather than dividend paying stocks but I never put on a position that would keep me awake at night.

For money I really want to set aside, I use Vanguard and Fidelity investment funds that I know have a decent performance history.

As for resources I am fortunate to have access to professional research though I fall back on Barron’s very often, especially when I am out of ideas.

When it comes to evaluating a stock, what kind of personal research do you do? What Taylor-tests does a company need to pass for you to buy?

When it’s time to stock pick I look to 5 things: 1. current market conditions, 2. sector performance for the last year of that stock, 3. performance of that stock over the last 6 months to one year, 4. does is pay a dividend?, and 5. does the media find the stock under or overvalued?

I have the tools at work to dive into technical analysis but it comes down to sentiment for any investor.

Take Apple, the market keeps making new all time highs. Technology stocks are hot. Apple is up 34% in the last year and they pay a 67c dividend. But news was out recently that Apple was downgraded by an analyst on Wall Street at Pacific Crest. I pay attention to what Wall Street and the media are saying as who would say the stock is not going to go up anymore? Everyone has an iPhone… That’s where the fun begins!

How do you set your expectations for a stock, in terms of how long to hold onto it?

Despite my regulations I think it is crucial to hold onto a stock for at least a quarter. The market likes to respond to bad news and politics. Trust your purchase and hold onto it until the next earnings season so the company has the opportunity to show you numbers and hard facts.

For more on stock picking definitely read Reminiscences of a Stock Operator –it was originally written in 1923 and still the best book on stock picking I have ever read!!

How often do you check your stocks / your portfolio?

Once a week to check in and assess each sector I have invested in. I often check on Sunday after spending Saturday reading Barron’s and getting my ideas together to execute any new trades early in the week. I’ve been known to buy and shut my eyes on growth stocks too though!

And finally, some personal questions:
Go-to drink order?

A fresh lime margarita with a very salty rim! I make them best (in my opinion) if you want to start a margarita-investment club for Friday nights!

Go-to coffee order?

Grande Redeye with almond milk

Favourite thing to do in San Francisco?

Go to Baker Beach and jump in the ocean (yes I know it’s freezing but exhilarating) followed by games on the beach and stare in awe at the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset! Followed by a yummy dinner, the food here is amazing!

Number one recommended travel destination?

Cuba! The people, the colors, the scuba diving! Go before chains take the charm away! But know your Spanish or Russian because English wasn’t taught in school there!

Thank you to Taylor for taking the time to share her experience with us!

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DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to:



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