How One Woman Went From Teacher To Trader And Took Over Wall Street

Benzinga is proud to introduce the Benzinga Women’s Wealth Forum, a space where women can learn how to empower themselves through financial technology and be inspired by the stories of powerful women in finance.

Ahead of the March 21 event, we’re highlighting the stories of some of the leading women in the financial services industry.

Our next installment is an interview with veteran trader and MarketGauge Director of Trading Education & Research Michelle Schneider.

Why did you pursue a career in finance or the markets?

I started out in life as a Special Education Teacher for significantly emotionally disabled children. I volunteered to work in New York City’s disadvantaged and at the time, most dangerous neighborhoods. That alone reveals a personality of one who likes living life on the “edge”, willing to take chances to reap the rewards of making a difference.  

The pay for a public-school teacher at that time was not enough to support myself. I had to make a change. Auspiciously, a friend working on the New York Commodities Exchanges, brought me to the Floor. One look at the action hooked me. Taking another risk, I left teaching and landed a job working on the New York Commodities Exchange as a Sugar, Coffee, and Cocoa Analyst for Conti-Commodities. I discovered all sorts of things about myself over the course of the 12 years trading as an independent floor trader.

Attributes one must possess to be successful in trading include an entrepreneurial spirit, a skill in pattern recognition (necessary for technical analysis), a gregarious personality, a thick skin, an ability to tolerate risk and control emotional responses to money.

When it comes to investing, what’s your best piece of advice?

Become an “expert” in one thing first. For me, using the six market phases on both daily and weekly charts to gauge the lowest risk entries and determine exactly when to take profits or exit a trade has proven to work best. All investors should have a consistent trading strategy to avoid experiencing huge losses. If investors prefer to use an RIA or Financial Planner, I suggest investors make sure that those in charge of their money have a repeatable strategy that can be easily explained.

What do you wish someone told you when you were starting out?

I am super fortunate. The lessons from the commodities exchanges and the plethora of amazing traders I met offered me the advantage of having several different mentors. It took years to realize just how lucky that was.  I highly recommend that anyone starting out finds at least one great mentor with an investing philosophy that makes sense and fits with your personality.

Where should young people be putting their money today?

As a student of megatrends both emerging and continuing, I mainly invest in areas of the economy or in social trends that I see having the best chance to grow over time. For example, regardless of one’s political view about climate change (by the way, great traders never allow their personal views or those of others influence trading ideas), investing in stocks or ETFs related to alternative energy, electric cars, and raw materials makes sense. However, as with all trades, vet them first. Consider the macro picture-how are the indices and major economic sectors doing. Consider the phase the instrument you wish to trade is in. Finally, consider the risk/reward. Always calculate how much you are willing to lose on a trade before you execute. Then, position size accordingly. Once you are in the money, have profit targets and raise trailing stops to prevent winners from becoming losers.

What is your biggest personal hurdle when it comes to the markets?

For me, adding to my winning trades, especially when I see the value long before the public does. I like to take profits when the “word” about an instrument I bought early gets out. Nevertheless, adding to winners at certain inflection points and adjusting the stop/profit parameters yields even bigger profits. A perfect example is the ETF for the country fund of Greece, GREK. I recommended to my subscribers to buy GREK at 7.40 early 2017. I wrote a blog about the major breakout in the ETF over 8.00 in my Mish’s Daily blog. GREK rose in price to 10.77 by July 2017. I held the tail of the position. Had I added as the price rose, the profit on the trade would have tripled. The bottom line, let your winners run (and add as the price clears resistance levels) and when wrong, cut your losses early.

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