Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The power of investment

I was working on a story when "The Invitation" arrived. Clearly labeled in small black font, the request was no Pandora’s box; I knew what was inside — I just had no desire to open it.

Trembling, I clicked on the email that read “Investing Meeting. 3 p.m. July 15. Main conference room. XOXO Manny Schiffres.”

All right, you caught me. The Kiplinger’s investing editor did not sign off with hugs and kisses. With his thin glasses and kind smile, he’s not even that intimidating — until he starts discussing Rafi funds and REITs as if they were groceries and gas.

I wanted to go to this meeting. It didn’t conflict with my schedule, and planning for editorial content has always been one of my favorite tasks: sitting at a long table in the corner conference room, surrounded by portraits of the former Kiplinger family patriarchs; trading complaints about the freezing temperature in the room; listening to the ideas that sound brilliant coming from all these senior editors’ mouths; realizing that these ideas are, in fact, brilliant. It's my nirvana.

But investing…yow. I’ve learned how to calculate P/E ratios and yields, messing up a few times because they’re nearly the opposite of each other. I've learned that sometimes when we say a stock is up, say, 16% on the year, that “year” could start in January or it could start a year before the day the story was written. And I've learned that apparently, the market tends to do exactly what we think it won’t do. Great.

It was all too abstract for my taste. What if they expected me to have a story idea? In the last meeting, Manny had said he’d give me a pass. What if my pass was only good for one turn? What if, instead of passing go, I went to jail? No $200 return on my investment.

At lunch, I consulted with the three young reporters who sit near me. They sympathized with my feeling of terror at presenting investing ideas and encouraged me to go to the meeting anyway. You can’t win anything without taking risks, they reminded me.

So I went. I sat at that long table. Janet, our head editor, went and got a sweater because she was so cold. Nellie, a senior associate editor, pitched an idea for a regular feature about a stock screen: explaining one factor commonly used to determine which stocks to buy (like P/E) per month and then giving recommendations based on that factor alone. Internally, I slapped my palm against my forehead in frustration at not coming up with such a smart, straightforward idea. Externally, I listened intently and scribbled furiously.

At the end of the meeting, Manny’s eyes drifted over me. “Do you have anything to add, Mary Clare?” he asked. I looked up at him with wide eyes.

“I’m just learning!” I said, with all the enthusiasm I could muster.

Everyone laughed, but I realized that I had unintentionally stumbled on the point.

I am learning.

Written by Mary Clare Fischer, University of Maryland, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance
Edited by Ana Rocha, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Food Network Magazine

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the info, I've been looking to investing in commodities or perhaps stocks so I've been researching various options online. To make a long story short, I've been unable to work for quite some time and have been receiving structured settlement payments which I can live off of, but I want to start investing some money for my eventual retirement.

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