Students are learning the not-so-ancient art of online trading in colleges, universities and private training facilities across the country. Their teachers say that
they’re taking away anything from a basic knowledge of how stock markets work to an appreciation for subtracting emotion from the trading equation.
Former stockbroker Kimberley Evans offers both personal training through her B.C.-based company Trading Dollar$ and a series of continuing studies courses at
Courses cover everything from basic stock market terminology and stock research, to how to execute an order, set up online trading accounts and negotiate the
software. Her motto: “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”
“I begin by telling them they’re coming from Mars and they know nothing,” says Evans. “Once we take their fear out of the market and give them the tools
they need to create a sound investment strategy, they lose the emotion that encourages investors to make bad decisions. I also tell them not to get greedy,
because pigs will get slaughtered.”
The U.S.-based Online Trading Academy provides intensive courses in which students learn by playing the market in real time, using the academy’s money.
“The first thing students ask us is whether they get to keep their earnings,” says Ron De Appolonia, general manager of the academy’s Canadian operations. “We
eat both wins and losses. However, we’ve found that when they trade with the Academy’s money, it demonstrates to students what they can do when they take
emotion out of the trading equation.”
Students generally range from their mid-30s to mid-50s. About half of each class comes into the program completely green.
“What some of them think they know is based on the market as it existed in the 1950s,” says De Appolonia. “In the past you simply picked what looked like a strong
company in a strong sector and stuck with it. Since 2000, the market has become far more volatile, trading is far more active and, without a proper education,
the general public is usually late to the party.”
Kevin Mak helped design two in-house online trading simulation programs at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, where he taught an online
trading course aimed at students who may want to become institutional investors. He’s currently director, Real-time Analysis and Investment Lab at the Stanford
Graduate School of Business.
“The market offers an expanded set of available investment choices, from ETFs to a dozen ways of hedging currency exposure,” he says, “That increased choice has
resulted in increased complexity that needs to be addressed.”
As with retail investing, however, Mak says that removing emotion from the trading equation is one of the keys to successful investment. He rigs the online trading
program to simulate a market crash to test his students’ mettle.
“Often they stop making rational decisions and fall back to a fight-or-flight position, trading in ways completely unlike their own predictions of how they would
behave under those circumstances,” he says. “By desensitizing them to the emotional component of trading, we teach them to execute their trading strategy as it