Hello 2015 – The Rebirth of Active Investing and the Rise of ‘Chart Art’

I would not spend money on a SuperBowl commercial for Stocktwits, but if I was given the chance to create one, the message would be this:

The market is to be respected, but not worshipped. We are here to beat it.

(thanks Alex Gurevich)

I am in my year end planning mode for Stocktwits and Social Leverage, working on what I did wrong in 2014, writing down all I am grateful for, battling some real bitterness towards a few bad actors and of course thinking about how to trounce the markets in 2015 and beyond.

Stocktwits is now 6 years old and we have had our ups and downs, but growth in our key three metrics (that we care about) is faster than ever, despite a year in which we went backwards in many ways. Like the markets themselves, you can’t control everything. You will make mistakes. In January, we will launch our new native iOS app (Android will be fast behind) and I am thrilled for the community of active investors and traders/investors that want to journal, share and make money.

Active investors like myself are NOT an endangered species. The media has declared us dead. That is a bought and paid for editorial by the banks that have become asset gatherers, the advisors that have set off on their own, the VC backed ROBO advisors and the clones coming from the ebrokerages, Vanguard and so on.

Here is Etrade in the year 2000 and their ‘Money Coming out of the Wazoo’ Superbowl Ad:

Nothing could be dumber, but sadly we lost our sense of humor about markets, crowds and the idea that you could crush the market.

Underneath it all, business is booming in the business of active trading and commissions. The brokerage stocks are on fire, even as rates and margines on trades plummet. I have been long Scwhab ($SCHW) and Interactive Brokers ($IBKR) for most of 2014 and covered it on the streams). Equity trades notched their first growth in 5 years and are at all-time highs.

The millenials can’t save the stock market and won’t save the brokerage industry, but I am thrilled they will be catered to with Stocktwits, Robinhood, Ameritrade, ChartIQ, ETF’s and abundant mentorship and educations opportunities.

The world is fascinated with photos and of course Instagram and Pinterest. We should be. Pictures tell a thousand words. Photos are the art of the moment. The stock markets are a giant, global real time ‘art exhibit‘ of our mood. It is represented by price and volume. A third dimension I have talked about since 2007 is the social layer. The ‘WHO’ that said something and the ‘WHEN’ he/she said it. It can all now be shared in a chart. The financial industry is shackled to horrible terminology like ‘technical analysis’. No sane person wants to be called a technical analyst. But, almost every person has the potential to look at charts in a stream and learn to see patterns and get a feel for the pulse of the mood. When the instagram of markets does show itself, technical analysts will be replaced by ‘chart artists’. It will accelerate the revolution.

That’s the opportunity I have always seen for investors. Learn the language, cut out the noise and the costs, have a plan that fits your risk profile, follow smart people, journal and trounce the markets.

I have never considered active investing a hobby. It is so damn real and so damn hard. I am glad I seem to be in the minority as the mobile, social boom continues to globalize and intensify. When the media comes around to it, it won’t be too late, but why wait for them.


  1. jon knight says:

    I guess I am a chart artist, and the label doesn’t bother me in the least. I am certainly not a technical analyst. On a lark and a dare I’ve just opened a new (small) account to trade exclusively off the artifacts I find in the models I make. I’ll be posting those trades along with the models used in real time through 2015 on my site (haven’t set that up yet, so no self-serving link) as well as on ST.

    Regardless of what time proves about that, it will be right there in the open to be examined. We all get to see this experiment unfold in real time. And if the account goes broke I won’t consider it a failure. Because hopefully we all learn something from it, and it’s worth the few K I’m putting up to find out.

    This is that thing you are describing, coming into existence in many places around the internet. I’m not the only guy putting his trades and his thoughts out there to be examined. I’m not even the first. And more will follow, just like I followed, because I have learned so much from the ones that do.

    Happy New Year Howard, and thanks again for the work you’ve done over the years.

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