"Real Peeps On The Street" #2: Jimmy Monaghan
My very first job out of college was actually not as a full-time equity analyst, but rather a trading assistant, and my first supervisor was none other than James “Jimmy” Monaghan – Head Trader and Senior Vice President at AIG SunAmerica Asset Management. Jimmy was the best mentor when it came to understanding chart analysis – and it really gave me a unique perspective when doing stock analysis later on. He’s an excellent teacher, probably since he’s so passionate about the stock market and trading.
Jimmy started his career at Mutual of America Life Insurance Company in New York City as an annuity and retirement client representative. He then left Mutual of America, after seven years, working as an equity trader, and then went on to work at Chase Manhattan Bank as an equity sales trader. He started his career at AIG SunAmerica Asset Management in 1995 as an equity trader and eventually came to run the equity desk as head of trading. He has over 25 years of experience in the Finance Industry, mostly in equity investing, as opposed to bonds, fixed income and forex trading.
Over the years, Jimmy has taken several exams with the NASD such as, Series 7, 63, 6, and 3, although he is not currently licensed. Jimmy is a graduate of SUNY Oneonta in Upstate New York and holds a B.S. in Economics. He is also currently a holder of the Chartered Market Technician (CMT) Designation by the Market Technicians Association.
When he’s not busy at work during market hours, he enjoys golf, tennis, swimming, hiking, camping, watching the NY Yankees, skiing, biking, travel, reading, and movies. Jimmy currently resides in Westchester County, NY with his wife, Carol, and their two children, Paul and Emma.
1) How and when did you decide that you wanted to work in finance?
I knew one thing after college; that I wanted to go to work for a large corporation. This way, I could use my skills to enhance and contribute to a team for a common goal. This could have been in sales, customer service and in any industry: retail, finance, insurance, or something else. I took a position as a client representative at an insurance company and started on the path to insurance sales and annuity sales. Along the way, at the insurance company, I learned about the different ways my clients could invest their money for retirement. A little further research into variable annuities, mutual funds and essentially the stock market and I was hooked. I then went on to apply for each and every position that dealt with the stock market. I was fortunate and landed a job as a portfolio assistant within the insurance company’s Investments Department. I found the gateway to the world of finance and investments! My interest in the stock market grew during these years after college. On the way, I took as many courses as I could at New York Institute of Finance, enrolled in an MBA program, took and passed as many industry exams as I could, all in an effort to learn as much as I could about the stock market. I never wavered from my strategy to learn as much as I could about the stock market.
2) What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job as an equity trader, which I have been doing for 25 years, is that it gives me the ability to research and watch all the financial markets around the world every day. The markets are obviously an important part of the economic engine of every country on Earth. Therefore, having knowledge and skills to be able to analyze, invest, and transact in these markets every day both professionally and personally is a very rewarding experience. Additionally, no day is the same: I never know what event around the world is going to impact the markets at any given time during my day. It can be, and usually is very exciting and if I get a quiet day in the markets, it gives me a good opportunity to research something new.
3) Is there a stock/company you have always had an affinity towards and why?
Yes, there is a stock that I have a close affinity with. But first, everyone who follows the markets religiously, will inevitably find their “go to” stock or industry or even investment vehicle. This may take time but it will happen, and when you find that group or stock, it is actually fun to watch and keep up with. I will go as far to say it is like following your favorite sports team! Okay, that might be a stretch, but for me it is. My “go to” stock is Apple Inc. (AAPL) and it is a good company to follow for several reasons. Firstly, I use the products. The products are superior to any of its competition and the company is well run. It also has a ton of cash on its balance sheet, which is incredible, and the stock is in all the major indexes. It is a tech stock and the equity itself is very liquid, meaning a lot of investors buy and sell it every day.
When you pick a stock to begin your investing journey, you should always go with something you understand. When I find a stock with these characteristics I just identified, I can then watch the stock price as it moves through time. The stock price is greatly affected by its earnings, earnings estimates and projections, so although the company is very profitable lately, its stock price may be too expensive at times or very cheap at times. Here-in-lies the challenge and thrill of investing in the stock market or any other financial market.
4) What do you think is the biggest misconception about Wall Street?
I think the biggest misconception is that Wall Street is a “private club” of wealthy and well connected individuals who are out to make money for themselves at the expense of their customers and Main Street. My impression here comes from the articles I read in newspapers and segments I watch on the news regarding Wall Street. Albeit, after the great recession of 2008, I understand why this perception of Wall Street may persist out there. However, it may well have been there before the great recession! Wall Street is actually a concept or can be thought of as a synonym for our system of capitalism in today’s world. Capital is raised through this economic system whose roots in this great country began at Wall Street. This is a system where everyone can be an owner of a public company, if they so choose to participate. When one travels to the actual street in downtown Manhattan, one can get a glimpse into the historical importance of Wall Street by visiting the New York Stock Exchange as well as experiencing a feeling of excitement and opportunity that capitalism creates for its citizens.
5) If you could give one piece of advice to someone brand new to the stock market and investing, what would you tell them?
My favorite question! I would advise someone brand new to investing to get online today and open up a brokerage account. I believe that this may be the hardest first step for novices, so I advise getting this done first. When the account is open, set up an automatic deposit from your bank account to your new brokerage account. We don’t all start out investing with a lot of money, this is why it’s important to get this account open! Then deposit as little or as much as your budget can afford. It may be $25 dollars or maybe $50. Any windfalls you run into, send into the account. While you are waiting for your deposits to add up, say to a meaningful amount $500 or $1000, you start your research. Information on investing, the stock market etc. is so prevalent now a days, is shouldn’t be very hard to find good info. (Opening a brokerage account may be intimidating, but if you should decide to chicken out, your money will stay in cash until you are ready.) All the while, you are now following and researching your first stock. The next piece of advice, when ready to buy, is to only buy a portion of the total shares you can afford, this way if the stock price declines you can buy lower finish your position and sit back and watch and follow. This is the axiom, buy low and sell high! Sounds good but it works out in your favor more often if you buy over time. Some brokerage accounts and firms can provide you with a way to start paper portfolio or a “practice account”, this is a good idea also. I hear many young people (and even not so young people) who don’t invest say, they can’t do it, they don’t have enough money, the game is rigged, they don’t know how to do it. These are all excuses! Anyone can do it. It’s just a matter of getting started and doing it.