I really love stories about young investors and entrepreneurs who set out to do something bold at a young age in the business world. Like the 17-year-old Bro managing his own “hedge fund” (well, sorta). while still in high school. Or the 16-year-old in Jersey who claims to have made over $300,000 by trading penny stocks a la Tim Skyes. Sometimes these stories are legit, sometimes they’re just B.S. from teenagers who dream of the 1% life after listening too many Drake albums and seeing too many “Rich Kids of Instagram” posts. For example, the Carl Icahn wannabe who claimed to make $72 million, but made the whole thing up.
17-year-old Brandon Fleisher’s story of market success seems legit, based off a report by Rob Wile over at Fusion. Fleisher has been interested in the markets from a young age. Then his dad — the owner of a scrap metal recycling plant in Ontario — gave him $50,000 to start trading during his junior year. One year later, he’s come pretty close to tripling it. via:
Fleisher’s pursuit began one day in 8th grade, when he was assigned a mock stock-picking problem. The goal was to pick a company that over the course of several weeks would see the highest rate of return. While most of his other classmates chose well-known companies, he realized that a smaller company would have much more growth potential. He actually doesn’t remember if he ended up winning, but he beat almost everyone else, and was hooked.
Convincing his dad to let him invest, even as a proxy, however, would take a few more years.
Instead, he told Brandon to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to the market. And Brandon did, apparently calling Tesla and Netflix as companies poised to exploit ongoing structural changes in consumption habits.
“He said ‘We’re not going to the theatre anymore, they’re going to take over, they’re producing TV shows, they’re way into content’—not just, ‘Wow, Netflix is cool,’” Danny said. “He brought it to another level, and could see how they were going to grow their business model, how they would generate profitability.”
By the time Brandon was a junior, his father was satisfied. He opened up a trading account that he would control, but would be effectively managed by Brandon. As of last week, Brandon’s portfolio, consisting of just five stocks, was worth $143,769.
Apparently he’s a disciple of a website that’s a magnet for teenagers who want to be traders called the Leaders Investment Club:
As it turns out, Brandon knew of Islam from a site called the Leaders Investment Club. The site has become the mecca of teen traders, and it’s where Brandon now recruits contributors for the project that actually takes up the majority of his spare time: a website called The Financial Bulls. Brandon hopes to position the site as a financial learning hub for investors, especially younger ones. It already has 6,000 email subscribers.
The kid has still received his knocks, like a couple weeks ago when the Dow took a downward spiral.
Brandon got his first taste of true market turbulence last month, when stocks reached volatility levels not seen in years. But he says he is investing for the long term, and was mostly unfazed. In fact he has not cashed out any of his earnings, and has committed to making all future profits out of the initial $50,000. If anything, he said, he has become more conservative in his spending habits. He just started his freshman year at Ryerson University in Toronto, where he plans to study business.
The thing that always baffles me about these stories is the parents willingness to give their kids a huge chunk of money to potentially blow in the stock market. If I would have asked my dad for $50,000 at 17 to put in an eTrade account, he would have laughed me out of the room — probably because he remembers all too well just how much I struggled with anything relating to math. And at the end of the day, smart trading is risk assessment + quantifiable calculations. Not exactly something you trust to the kid who got a D in Algebra II and thinks Blockbuster and Circuit City are the greatest retailers since sliced cheese.
Still, $50,000 to $143,769 is like a 200% rate of return. That’s pretty incredible for a kid still in high school.