The Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) group Stock Market for Beginners went live Oct. 15, 2020. Tony Szymanski was named an administrator in the group last December, when its membership was at 900, but he hardly pretends to be a lifelong expert in investing.
“I grew up in a lower income family,” Szymanski said. “I never really had a lot of money. In my early 20s I was buying gas with spare change, and I realized I needed to take control of my finances.”
Szymanski studied economics in college, where he took his first literacy course. He said he was able to save his first $10,000 by the time he reached 27 and open a 401(k) account, but it wasn’t until he reached 32 that he made his first stock purchase.
“The first thing I ever bought was Ford (NYSE:F),” he said.
Now 34 and working as a quality control officer in the aerospace industry, Szymanski sought to share his newfound knowledge of investing with as many people as he could. He teamed with his brother Andrew on “The Stock Bros Podcast,” which debuted last December.
“We wanted to help people learn financial literacy and teach people how the stock market works and how to invest wisely,” he said. “We’re not necessarily giving any recommendations on what to buy, but we just want people to understand how it works, the terminology and what-not.”
While looking for Facebook groups to join as a means of both self-education and self-promotion of the podcast, Szymanski found Stock Market for Beginners.
A conversation with group founder Johnny Margarito, a manager at Wisemen Traderz in Albuquerque, New Mexico, led Szymanski from being a quiet observer to a hands-on administrator.
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Signs Of The Times: During the last four months, Stock Market for Beginners’ membership base expanded significantly as investment-related news dominated the headlines, particularly how Reddit’s WallStreetBets forum gave GameStop Corp. (NYSE:GME) and AMC Entertainment Holdings (NYSE:AMC) a degree of prominence that stunned the traditional chieftains of Wall Street.
Many new members joined the group seeking greater insight into these developments, especially when it came to the alleged ease of instant riches via stock trading.
“The biggest mistake that people are trying to make is they’re trying to get rich quick,” he said. “They see all these news articles, they see people on Reddit posting pictures of their portfolios, where they’re making a couple or hundred or thousand dollars in a day or two. So, they think that they can just come in and start doing that as well.”
Szymanski sees the group’s mission as separating information from frenzy, particularly when it comes to the investment sector’s equivalent of bright shiny objects.
“We try to get people to avoid jumping on the Dogecoin (CRYPTO: DOGE) hype, the AMC and the GameStop, and stuff like that,” he continued.
“People don’t educate themselves before they start buying — and I was guilty of it, too. People will just start buying things and they don’t understand what a limit order is. We’re just trying to help people understand those things before they get too deep into making bad decisions.”
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Knowing Where To Go: The current glut of investing advice reminds Szymanski of the fabled remark attributed to the controversial financier Joseph P. Kennedy, who exited Wall Street ahead of the Great Depression by claiming, “If shoe shine boys are giving stock tips, then it’s time to get out of the market.”
“I don’t know if everybody thinks they’re an expert, but that definitely could be the case,” he said. “I think they’re hearing from their co-workers, from their friends or family who tell them, ‘Hey, you’ve got to start buying Dogecoin or you’ve got to start buying this.’ And once you hear about starting to buy anything, it’s probably too late — you have to be one of the people that buys in before it takes off.”
As an administrator in the Facebook group, Szymanski asks the membership to consider advice from individuals who have gained respect over the years for their approach to investing.
“Obviously, all investments have risks, but my idea of a good investment is passive investing,” he said. “I’ve read a lot and listen to a lot of videos of people like Warren Buffett, Peter Lynch and Ray Dalio. I [like] investing in an index like the S&P 500 or the QQQ which is proven to have a good track record.”
Szymanski admitting to having some Bitcoin (CRYPTO: BTC) in his portfolio, but he cautioned the Facebook group members about the “alt coins out there that are pump-and-dump schemes where they’re getting people to sign up, and once they start amassing a large number of people signing up the initial investors are going to pull their money out. I’m just not a fan a lot of these all currencies, like SafeMoon (CRYPTO: SAFEMOON) and Dogecoin, but I definitely see a future in Bitcoin.”
As for the near-term future of Stock Market for Beginners, Szymanski wants to grow the group to 100,000 members by the end of the year and to make it the one-stop shop on Facebook for investing education.
“We want to talk about all subjects of the stock market,” he said. “But we also want to keep our core values. We’re not trying to rip people off or get people into risky investments. We want everybody to know what they’re getting into before they buy anything. So, we will just be preaching wise investing.”
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(Banner image of the Stock Market for Beginners group, courtesy Johnny Margarito.)
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