From Truck Stops To Wall Street


No one would have guessed that Jack Weyland was destined to be an investor. As a college dropout, Weyland was forced to settle for a job as a truck driver. But as luck would have it, Weyland had a knack for picking biotech and health care stocks. Using a laptop and a wireless Internet card, he used his off time (during mandatory rest stops) to research the stock market.

Matthew Schifrin, the author of “The Warren Buffetts Next Door,” said that Weyland has slowly transformed himself into an expert on biotech stocks using a number of Web resources.

“On, his average annual return (as of the time I wrote my book) was about 36% on average per year, investing in biotech stocks mostly,” Schifrin told Benzinga during a recent interview. “When you start asking him specifics about drugs and pharmaceuticals and biotechs, he has this amazing ability to recall financial detail, and detail about drugs and FDA trials. He's become an outstanding investor.”

Schifrin, who serves as the Vice President and Investment Editor at Forbes, interviewed several Average Joe investors before narrowing his list down to the 10 best.

“There's a guy, Kai Petainen,” Schifrin said. “He's a computer lab manager at the University of Michigan's business school. I call him the Sorcerer's Apprentice because Kai soaked in what the professors at the school were talking about for years.”
Petainen dedicated his spare time to researching academic theories. This allowed him to create his own formula for quantitative investing.

“He has screens for stocks based on certain quantitative properties,” Schifrin continued. “He's become an outstanding investor. He's created nine portfolios on and I believe all but one of them has far outpaced its benchmark.”

What does Wall Street think of their success? “One of the people I wrote about in my book was offered a money management job at a major asset manager,” Schifrin revealed.

From Truck Stops To Wall Street [Benzinga]

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How Can Wall Street Feel Alive Again?

As some of you may recall, there was a time not too long ago when you could work on Wall Street and be compensated in a way that made you feel special. Appreciated. Loved. Eight, nine, ten-figures of love. Now, obviously, not so much. But that is not what's eating the industry's most fragile spirits of late. They are fine taking pay cuts. They could care less about the money. What they're not fine with is having the rush, the intensity, the adrenaline-pumping fear that comes with, say, putting on a trade in which maybe the firm will make $1 billion or maybe it'll lose $10 billion, WHO KNOWS, IT'S ALL RELATIVE, I CAN'T FEEL MY LEGS, THAT'S WHAT MAKES IT SO EXCITING taken away from them. Take Sean George. He used to spend his days destroying company property and now, thanks to financial regulation, has had to get his kicks elsewhere. Sean George kneeled in the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in Manhattan. He wasn’t praying. A gash below his right brow bled into his eye and down his nose before a knee to his groin sent him to the floor. George, 39, head of credit-derivatives trading at Jefferies, was making his Muay Thai debut at the church June 22 in a sport that allows kicking, elbowing and kneeing. His eye was swelling shut by the time he lost in a split decision. It was the happiest he’s been all year, he said. “Right now at work I’m making less risk decisions -- and I enjoy taking risks,” George, who headed investment-grade credit-default-swap trading at Deutsche Bank AG before he joined Jefferies last year, said in an interview. “If you’re in it for the game and the fight, the game’s over and the fight’s over.” Risk is what drew George and the colleagues he respects to Wall Street, he said. He could bring in millions of dollars in a single month at his peak, and trading was so intense that during one credit-default-swap deal he smashed a phone against his desk, sending part of it three rows away, “one of the records for the best break,” he said. Ethan Garber's lost that tingly feeling in his plums. “There’s no sexiness, there’s no fun, there’s no intellectual intrigue, either,” said Ethan Garber, who ran proprietary credit-arbitrage portfolios for Credit Suisse Group AG and Bear Stearns Cos. “A lot of my friends who actually lingered for the last four years are all now getting fired anyway,” said Garber, 45, currently CEO of IdleAir, a Knoxville, Tennessee-based firm that provides electricity at truck stops. “The air is taken out.” Robert McTamaney has been reduced to doing his best impression of a whiskey-swilling, cigar-chomping newspaper man from the 1940's, who we assume addressed Bloomberg's Max Abelson as "toots" here. “The socks are higher, the skirts are longer,” said McTamaney, who helped run Goldman Sachs’s equities- trading business in Asia. “It’s like styles: They change, and you’ve got to change with it or be left behind.” Former King Street Capital and Bank of America trader Sam Polk isn't gonna lie, the worst part of Wall Street 2.0 is not being able to feel like a god by dropping $10,000 for bottle service on Wednesday nights, and sometimes even Thursdays. “You could be a 20-something trader three years out of school, able to go to any restaurant or club or ballgame on any night that you wanted, and it was totally paid for,” he said. “It was a tremendous feeling of power.” Michael Meyer is dying a slow, painful death. “The light at the end of the tunnel is dim,” said Meyer, now co-head of sales and trading at New York investment bank Seaport Group. Clearly, it's not pretty. But here at Dealbreaker we're about offering solutions, not whining about problems. How can these guys and girls replicate the feelings they once got by taking on risk on the job, if, unlike Sean George, getting kicked in the balls is not their thing? Drinking the carton of milk in the break room that's been sitting out for two days, telling the boss's wife it looks like she's gained a couple pounds, having unprotected sex with a junkie, shouting "You go girl!" at yourself in spin class after being kindly told to "Shut the fuck up" or else, and leaving dirty dishes in the sink all seem like good jumping off points but we can do better. These people need our help. Bloodied Trader Pines For Risk As Wall Street Retreats [Bloomberg]