I’m writing this on that dreaded day Friday the 13th. Fortunately, investors don’t have triskaidekaphobia. I had to look up that long word as I do every year, locking up Oscar, our black cat, first.
It’s hard to use the computer when you have a rabbit’s foot in each hand, but I learned that the phobia goes back to ancient times. But Friday’s market was defying the superstition, with the Dow moving up 70 points with an hour to go, closing the day up more than 75 points.
I remember when I started in the business. I discovered that a few brokers in the BankAmerica building were so superstitious they thought they had to go around the corner to a bar on Kearney Street and get smashed enough to ward off evil stock market spirits. When I was in high school, I had summer jobs on or near Wall Street. One of the more senior executives in the mutual fund department would occasionally – every day – come back from lunch quite drunk.
One day he wanted me to come into his office to offer some advice, which, as I’ve probably mentioned before was, “Whatever you do, don’t become a stockbroker after you graduate from college.”
I didn’t become a stockbroker after I graduated. As a matter of fact, I didn’t graduate until I came back from Vietnam. More important, just a few months later I met – as the song says – the girl that I married.
After getting an MBA from Boston University, I decided – almost by default – to become a broker. I want to offer one word of advice for younger readers who might be curious about becoming a broker. For some reason, the notion persists that taking business courses or getting an MBA will prepare for a Wall Street-related job.
Actually, having interviewed – and hired – dozens of people over the years, you might be surprised how many would-be brokers answer the question, “What makes you think you’d be successful as a stockbroker?” with a description of the financial and business courses they’ve taken.
Actually, English, history or philosophy majors are more likely to have an instinct for human interaction than business majors. I know that’s a broad generalization, but it was my experience.
Friday the 13th – I wasn’t even aware of it.
Bud Stevenson, a former stockbroker, lives in Fairfield. Reach him at Bsteven254@aol.com.