After quite the party throughout the Olympics here in Vancouver, capped off by a brilliant victory in men's hockey (take that!), I have had some time to evaluate how I am using my time to maximize the return on my existing skills and to simultaneously build skills that can be used in the future. Long-time readers of this blog know that this blog itself has generated no income, nor was it ever intended to do so. Income has been generated by my own speculative activities and some writing assignments for local financial firms.
Five years ago I made a decision to pursue an education on my own terms. A practical education filled with real-world experiences and a "learn by doing" mentality. My other option was "what everyone else was doing." Going to university, racking up $100,000 plus of debts and coming away with a piece of paper declaring my competence. This piece of paper, I was told, would increase my earnings potential by about 20% for the first 10 years of my working life, at which point it would become more or less irrelevant. The math didn't make any sense. With the interest on the debt, even a high starting salary wouldn't pay it off in ten years. And to top it off, I was surrounded by people who already had degrees but couldn't find work in their trained fields. They went back to coaching tennis or doing security. It really was an easy decision.
Over the past five years I have done proprietary trading for a small financial institution, managed my own account, operated this blog, attained a number of professional certifications in the financial services industry, and spent countless hours reading and researching economic theory, business cycle theory, economic history, the financial markets, capital flows and anything in between that interested me at the time. I have had the luxury of doing all this while living for extended periods of time in Europe and South America, gaining important cultural insights. I'm 27. I have no debt and a little stash of savings.
Far from suggesting that I can't learn anything else (the more I learn, the more I learn how little I know), I have indeed reached a point where this sort of self-directed process has met the law of diminishing returns. It has come time for me to apply what I have learned in another fashion.
I again had two options. The financial services industry was where my training naturally directed me toward. But being under 30 with my qualifications only gave me access to a few entry level positions. Positions abound for "investment advisors" at all the major institutions in Canada. They could just as accurately title the position "Shameless Mutual Fund Salesperson", because that is what they do: siphon their customers into a "balanced" portfolio of instruments that garner the highest sales fees possible. I couldn't, in good conscience, resign myself to this pitiful existence. Alternatively, I could be an "Investor Relations Representative" for a small junior mining company. Being paid primarily in stock options, whose value is dependent on some geologist finding a hot hand? Thanks, but no thanks.
So the option remaining is to use my financial background by pursuing small business development. And as it turns out, there is a family business in need of a new manager. It has a stable earnings flow and significant potential for expansion. Starting now, the majority of my time will be spent improving this business.
What this means for my readers, unfortunately, is that regular updates to this blog will no longer be a priority. I will continue to read a good amount of financial news, and thus, should have no problem keeping the "recommended reading" links updated regularly. Surely, I will at some point get antsy and feel like I should write something (or rant about something). Gone will be watching the markets tick-by-tick as I have for these past 5 years. Perhaps eliminating this short term oriented habit will help me gain a different perspective of the markets.
I'd like to thank my long-time readers for their support, encouragement and advice. I have, indeed, gleaned as much insight from your feedback as I have provided to others. And that was my entire motive of this little project.
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