Charted Territory: How a Live Broker Can <I>Really</I> Save Your Bacon

Gary B. Smith found out this weekend. Plus, why not to change your email program in midstream.
Author:
Publish date:

I'm not much of a team player. I mean, look at the things I like to do: golf, trade, write. Why I'm not a big fan of solitaire baffles me.

In any event, I start out like this to offer a juxtaposition: Moving is most definitely

not

an individual sport. Compared to trading, there is almost

nothing

in your control. Mortgages, moving vans, homeowners' insurance, house appraisals, radon testing -- let's face it, you end up relying on a cast larger than the population of Rhode Island. And what's that situation like for me? A nightmare.

But I was muddling along fine until the closing -- the home buyer's version of final exams -- when it turned out my various funds had gotten all screwed up in the transfer. And it's not like the closing attorneys and bankers sit there and say, "Ah, don't worry about it, Mr. Smith. We'll trust you to come up with the rest of the money." No, it's more like you're

Harrison Ford

in

The Fugitive

!

So, in the end, Mr. Loner really needed some teamwork, and here's my point. Many of you do a lot of trading. Some of you are even trading for a living. As a result, you have a good deal of capital tied up with your broker. I know I do, and because of that, I've come to view my broker as a partner. They do the actual trading; I do the trade selection. It's a relationship that's worked well.

And at the closing, I really, really depended on this relationship because at 4:30 p.m. Friday, I needed to get funds from my broker to the title company. With one phone call, however, my partners at

Yamner & Co.

went above and beyond the call of duty to bail me out. And I do not use "bail me out" lightly. Without them, my furniture would have been deposited in front of my new house, not in it.

The point? As your account equity grows, the importance of a personal relationship with your broker grows exponentially. If I had been using an online broker, this story might have had a different ending. But, driven initially by P&L reasons (see my

Penny-Wise, Pound-Foolish series), I happened into a relationship that has provided intangible value beyond the bottom line. For a loner like me, that was a huge revelation. And, for many of you, something to consider as your account equity grows. Thanks, Yamner.

Item next: mea culpa time. I received a flood of email from folks wishing me success on my move. And, in particular, the Maryland/D.C. contingent sent numerous missives offering everything from great restaurant recommendations to painting, plumbing and HVAC work. I welcomed those and was fully intending to follow up and respond to all.

Unfortunately, &%#$%@ software glitches have thwarted me. A long story made short: My loaner laptop (don't ask, it was yet another crisis) came preloaded with Microsoft IE and Outlook. All well and good, except I know all the Netscape "secret handshakes." No problem, then: I'd just download Navigator 4.5 and be on my way.

Whoops: When I did that, I "corrupted" the Mapi32.dll -- whatever that is! -- that apparently has something to do with making Outlook work. (Gee, wonder if there's any divisiveness between

Netscape

(NSCP)

and

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

?). So ... all those wonderful notes you sent me that I had resting on my Outlook email file? I can't get to them. Oh, I tried, but they are way outside my technical ability to retrieve, short of reinstalling Outlook. But, then again, I can't go that route because I don't have the installation CD!

So, all I can say is please, please

email me again (remember:

gbsmith@ibm.net). Especially those folks who knew good Bethesda-area restaurants! Oh, and one other thing: Don't ever change email packages midstream.

Item last: I don't know if this market is broken, but it sure does feel that way. What makes me say that? As always, two things: One, my hit rate on the short side starts to skyrocket. Right now, I'm batting roughly 80%. And as is often the case, that's not due to my "brilliance." Rather, it's the market.

Second, there are a lot of broken charts. Now, so we're all on the same page, let me show you some dead giveaways that indicate when it's a good time to scram. The chart of

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

below is a great example, as it gave you plenty of time to get out with both some major and minor "worry signals."

In a similar vein,

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

now looks broken. Will it recover? Sure, it's possible, but the odds are now against it.

So, you can root, root, root all you want, but when a chart is broken, you should at least think about taking some profits. My long exposure right now? Zippo.

Gary B. Smith is a freelance writer who trades for his own account from his Maryland home using technical analysis. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. This column, Charted Territory, appears every Wednesday. Smith also writes Technician's Take, which appears every Monday, and TSC Technical Forum, which appears Saturdays and Sundays.