ARMCHAIR INVESTOR
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CHARLOTTE HUDGIN, The Armchair Investor

MY EVOLUTION FROM "BUY-AND-HOLD" TO "STOCK TRADER"

With my M.B.A. from the University of Chicago, a C.P.A. designation plus two decades of experience in accounting and marketing positions, I felt ready become a financial advisor extraordinaire. I joined America Express Financial Services in 1990 as a licensed (series 7, etc.) stockbroker and financial advisor. There I used the Nobel Prize winning Asset Allocation investing model, designing portfolios of funds that achieved above market returns with low, controlled risk.

After five years, I joined Equity Services/National Life of Vermont and worked with high net worth clients. I focused on estate and financial planning services, helping my wealthy clients become wealthier through advanced strategies such as diversification across alternate investments, tax avoidance and generation skipping trusts while always focusing on capital preservation.

In 1999, I happily retired to manage my own and my parents' portfolios.

In early 2000, the stock market hit all-time highs powered by the new Internet marketplace. Dot com startups were creating millionaires at an amazing rate. This was the life. All my investing efforts were working well. But nothing in my "buy-and-hold" training prepared for what happened next.

The unstoppable Internet bubble burst. The crash that happened next seemed unbelievable after such a successful decade of investing.

First the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 17% in just two months. Then just as it seemed to be recovering, the Nasdaq crashed, tumbling 41% within three months. The portfolio asset allocation model I had used successfully for ten years had failed. I was stunned as my family's and my portfolios started evaporating. My past clients called in desperation asking what to do as they saw their hard-earned retirements and college funds seemed to shrink.

I had one strategy left. I remembered, "If what you are doing isn't working, do something else." I went to cash and set out to find a new style of investing that could work in up or down markets.

FINDING A SOLID INVESTING PLAN THAT OUTPERFORMED THE MARKET

I interviewed dozens of self-proclaimed successful investors to discover how they made money in the markets. I came to a startling conclusion.

Most investors:

  • remembered only their best trades,
  • justified their losses as someone else's fault, and,
  • in total, underperformed the market.

I kept searching.

Then I found a private trader who consistently beat the market handsomely (she shared her financial statements). With donuts and coffee in hand, I rang her doorbell at 7 a.m. She greeted me at the door and picked up the morning's Investor's Business Daily newspaper. We sat together at her breakfast table as she went through the newspaper circling stocks she wanted to watch that day. My coffee got cold as I furiously took notes, trying to capture everything she said about her investing approach.

When the market opened, we moved to her "investing cave" (den, really). With two computer monitors full of charts and data, she began trading.

By noon, I was exhausted. My host said, "Not a great day, but a good one." Her profit from just a few hours of work meant a return of over 30% annualized. This was during a falling market.

I was hooked. What she did not only had worked consistently in up and down markets, but it made sense to me.

She looked for:

  • profitable, growing companies (good financial picture)
  • then analyzed the stock charts for signs of heavy mutual fund buying.
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"Getting Started in Chart Patterns" by Thomas Bulkowski for beginners interested in learning to read stock charts for buy and sell signals. Filled with anecdotes and lessons from author's success and failures.
 
 
"The How to Make Money in Stocks Complete Investing System: Your Ultimate Guide to Winning in Good Times and Bad" by William O'Neil (founder of Investor's Business Daily). Identify stocks likely to be big winners by identifying profitable companies that are being bought by the smart money.

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At lunch, she handed me the book and said simply, "Read it. It's all in there." That afternoon I began my new career.

The book was William O'Neil's, How to Make Money in Stocks. After reading it, everything I knew about investing in the market changed.

  • I saw my prior style of investing ensured a modest return only slightly above the market ups and downs at best.
  • Even the expensive asset allocation software gave only modest improvements in returns.
  • Now I understood that the little guys (individual investors) have one huge advantage over the big fund managers but I was not utilizing that one key to success.
  • And that key was easily available if I knew how to use it. Then I realized any investor could use the key with some training.

I gathered three friends around a table at Starbucks and we began studying O'Neil's book in a weekly class. This investing style made so much sense, they told their friends who told their friends. And after a month, we were too many to fit in Starbucks. I moved to a bigger venue and I launched my new training business, The Armchair Investor.

It's been over a dozen years since then. I now speak to a variety of investors groups over 15 times each month through weekly classes, workshops, investing groups, and clubs of all types.

MY INVESTING SPEAKING and COACHING ENGAGEMENTS

I speak to all levels of investors from total novices to Wall Street pros. Here are some of the groups:

  • The Dallas Investors Forum (DIF)
  • The American Association of Individual Investors (AAII)
  • The Association For Technical Analysis (AFTA)
  • The Market Technicians Association
  • The Active Traders SIG (special interest group)
  • Dallas and Fort Worth Investor's Business Daily Meetups
  • And other local groups (churches, women's, investment clubs and so on).

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Plus, the Armchair Investor trainings of:

  • Weekly CANDO classes
  • Periodic Armchair Investor workshops
  • A private group of teen investors
  • Private coaching for the individual investor

Recently, the international magazine Technical Analysis of Stocks & Commodities published one of my articles titled, "Finding The Golden Triangle" (September, 2014)

EDUCATION

B.A. Lake Forest College in math and economics, College Scholar designation

M.B.A. University of Chicago, concentrations in finance and accounting

C.P.A. (Illinois)

PRIOR EXPERIENCE

Systems Analyst and Commercial Lending Associate, Continental Illinois National Bank

Senior Internal Auditor, Baxter Travenol Laboratories

Marketing Controller, AM Bruning

Computer-Aided Design Systems Director, AM Bruning and Manufacturing and Consulting Systems (MCS)

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Contact us at editor@armchairinvestor.com. Please include ARMCHAIRINVESTOR in the subject line. Or call Charlotte Hudgin at 214-995-6702.

Written and copyright © 2014-2015 by Charlotte Hudgin. All rights reserved.