On a recent flight from Tel Aviv to London, I had the pleasure of reading Fullerton Markets CEO Mario Singh’s newest book – Secret Conversations With Trading Tycoons. Amidst a clamor of crying babies, the slamming of overhead lockers and stench of vomit-inducing food, I was able to gain some expert insights into the world of trading.
Singh’s latest volume, this is his third book, is essentially a series of interviews with 12 different traders – think Svetlana Alexievich but more trading and less Soviet Union. Each trader is asked the same twenty questions, and their answers are printed in full.
Before discussing the positives of the book, it is worth tackling some of the negatives (sorry Mr. Singh). To start with, the opening chapters are replete with the kind of inspirational quotes and zero-to-hero stories that crop up on your LinkedIn feed or at a Ted Talk.
Some people like those sorts of things and, if you do, then you’ll probably enjoy the opening of this book. Conversely, if you are a cynical asshole like me, you probably won’t get much of a kick out of the first couple of chapters of this volume.
The only other problem was the occasional whiff of self-promotion. This seemed slightly superfluous to me given that, if you are reading the book, you’ve already bought into the product.
Anyway, now that the negative part of this review is out of the way, let’s move on to the good stuff.
Good for the pros, vital for the beginners
Singh’s book should make for pleasant reading for both trading newbies and seasoned experts.
Someone just starting out in the trading world isn’t going to be overwhelmed by a wave of insider lingo or hard-to-grasp concepts. That being said, there’s more than enough technical insight for a professional trader to get something from the book.
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For beginner traders, there’s also a plethora of good advice to learn from. Trading strategies, educational material and common mistakes to avoid are all covered here and, though more aimed at beginners, would probably still be of use for experienced traders.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the book is the disparate range of viewpoints. When you are reading a book in which the same 20 questions are repeatedly asked, it’s pretty important people say different things – otherwise, it wouldn’t be a particularly riveting read.
Fortunately for us, Singh’s interviewees don’t herd their opinions together. Everyone interviewed, for instance, had their own view on trading strategies and the role of central banks. Even on points where they were largely aligned, say on robotic trading, each trader followed a different logical process to reach their conclusions.
Singh has also done a good job at humanizing the trading industry. Financial writing, so often full of statistics, graphs and volumes sometimes feels stale – especially to those that don’t necessarily have a solid grasp of the concepts behind the data.
As such, the day-to-day details of the interviewed traders’ lives – what do you do to relax? How did you get into trading? – make for surprisingly good reading. The different paths people took to get into the trading industry, ranging from a former Olympic bobsledder to a 13-year-old pre-med student, were particularly interesting.
Despite their different backgrounds, ages and routes into trading, one thing all of the interviewees have in common is an often astounding work ethic and love for trading. This author’s takeaway was that in order to become a real trading tycoon, you have to put in the hours and enjoy what you are doing.
That message is particularly important for the retail industry. Too often brokers give their clients the impression that trading is a get-rich-quick scheme rather than a learning process, with many falls along the way, which requires hard work and dedication.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t make for great marketing. Nonetheless, if every potential retail trader were to read this book before they started their career, they would likely be much better off in the long run.
Mario Singh’s Secret Conversations With Trading Tycoons: Uncovering Timeless Wisdom From the World’s Greatest Financial Minds is available now via FX1 International