James Cramer, the ever-intense investor and feisty columnist for the
, has spent much of his journalism career giving individuals fresh insights into how investing works. His columns have become must-reads for those seeking a "front-row seat" on the trading action. But how did he get to where he is today? And, more importantly, how could an individual begin the journey that would take him or her into the investing realm? This week Cramer will explain the ins-and-outs of how he started investing full-time in a five-part series that begins Monday. As you can imagine, his journey into stocks and bonds was not exactly a quick two-step. Also, he will attempt to answer the countless queries he receives concerning the mercurial nature of the investing business. We fully anticipate that this series will provide investors with interesting reading and valuable insight, all aimed at helping people take charge of their investing lives. So settle back for an invaluable primer that will offer something for the curious and the serious. -- Dave Kansas
Editor-in-Chief By James Cramer
I receive email daily from people interested knowing how to get involved in the stock market. How would one "break" into the securities business? What would one read? How would one go about finding an entry-level job?
These questions are not easy. Neither are the answers. The securities business is not like any other business. It doesn't lend itself to easy analysis of how to get a job. To contrast, when I graduated from college I wanted a job in the newspaper business. I wrote 40 letters to 40 newspapers. Straightforward. So were the refusals. Had I wanted a job in the securities business I wouldn't have had a clue where to begin. So don't feel so embarrassed!
Because I believe there is enough interest out there on this subject and also because I have promised many readers that I would address the subject, I'm going to take a busman's holiday while vacationing with my wife and kids in the Hamptons, and address this subject with my usual spin through a five-part series on how the business works.
The first part will focus on learning from my own bumbling. The second and third parts will address the differences between the buy and sell sides. The fourth part will be a do-it-yourself guide. Finally, I will give you my view of where I would go for the best shot at working in the securities business. Even you old hands will get a few laughs from my first installment. The rest, well you decide.
My interest in getting into this business dates back to a steamy weekend in New York about 15 years ago. I was a lowly summer associate at a major New York law firm. I absolutely hated it; I mean I despised going to work everyday, as it was clear that every lawyer in a junior position, and many of the senior people, were completely miserable. And massively underutilized intellectually.
But that isn't what put me over. After all, I had just finished my first year at Harvard Law, so I had to give it at least a summer's shot before I jettisoned the whole thing.
What put me over the top, totally coincidentally, was
Giddings & Lewis
. Yes, the same Giddings & Lewis that just got a $21 bid from
. That summer, a few months before the bull market began, GIDL was the subject of another takeover, a hostile one from
. I got recruited to work on the deal as part of a cinema verite experience that these firms provide for summer associates.
It was late Saturday night. Some senior lawyers were sitting around talking; I joined them. I mentioned that, for what it was worth, the acquirer was making a colossal overpay, that the Japanese had targeted this industry and that this was a top of the market deal.
The look of panic over these lawyers' faces was palpable. Oh my God, I could read their collective minds, doesn't this stooge know that lawyers, let alone summer associates, aren't supposed to offer anything substantive about takeovers they work on.
Sure enough, soon after, I was taken aside by my mentor and he explained that the quickest way to make enemies and not be asked back would be to pop off about something that lawyers know nothing about.
But, I insisted, I know all about this company and about the market. This deal is stupid.
He gave me that "when I want your opinion I'll give it to you" look and dismissed me to go back to my proofreading, proofreading that he would have to double-check after I was finished. Guess that's why they paid him the big bucks.
Well, as they say, the rest is history. AMCA paid way too much, the Japanese came in and cut their knees off, and eventually they got crushed. AMCA almost immediately lost two-thirds of their invesment -- what a disaster. I never forgot the level of contempt these lawyers had for someone who knew something about business. And I vowed from that moment on that I would get a job on the only side that mattered: the business side.
Tuesday: A walk on the buy side. James Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-chairman of
. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he welcomes your feedback, emailed to