Damien Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of Wall St. Cheat Sheet, a complete financial website and subscription newsletter. He covers the gamut of financial information, from news to investing to expert interviews. Damien has had a diverse career that includes entrepreneurship, trading, investment banking, law–and producing innovative websites. I caught up with Damien to ask him more about his career, Wall St. Cheat Sheet, and the financial world in general.
Drea: It looks like you went to law school, but don’t practice law. How does being a lawyer help you as a full-time trader and Editor-in-Chief?
Damien: Let me answer those one at a time. My legal training has helped me to become a successful trader because I can discipline myself to follow the rules. For the most part, the difference between professional and amateur traders is disciplined risk management and abiding my certain trading rules. These are skills lawyers learn.
My legal training has helped me as Editor-in-Chief because I need to write persuasively, do good research, and ask good questions. Again, these are all part of basic legal training.
Drea: You and your brother both trade full-time. It sounds like you’re quite successful at it. What were a couple of your most successful picks this year?
Damien: We both traded full-time. Now I run our publishing operation more than full-time, and my brother manages our business. So, our trading has transitioned from intraday to more swing trading.
One of our most successful picks this year was Intuitive Surgical (ISRG). We recommended our Premium subscribers buy on a break above $152, and we’ve been riding since. Of course, we’ve take profits along the way and added more too.
We had a great 2009 picking stocks. We only recommended 6 trades. Lucky for us, the market was in a major trend most of the year so we benefitted.
Drea: What is Wall St. Cheat Sheet’s most valuable resource (eg. market reports, your premium newsletter, interviews, etc.)?
Damien: The Premium Newsletter is most valuable because we give you trade setups and you can make much more money than the cost of the subscription. However, our interviews have been one of our most popular resources on our website. I think people enjoy learning from those who have been successful. Moreover, we all need role models and inspiration.
Drea: What aspect of the current sad economic state angers or saddens you most? What aspect are you most hopeful about?
Damien: I am most angry that our government has allowed our economy to turn into a corrupt, wild-west gambling pit. As the culprits for the financial scams have yet to be punished, hard working people are struggling to keep work and survive. It’s a total embarrassment to genuine capitalism.
I am most hopeful about the entrepreneurial spirit. Even if we need another decade or longer to deal with certain economic hurdles, at some point they’ll burn off and we will have another long creative cycle.
Drea: Any general thoughts for the market in 2010?
Damien: Always trade with an exit plan. This means stop losses and taking profits along the way. If you don’t have an exit plan, you are gambling. If you don’t have an exit plan, the odds are the house will take your money. Other than that, 2010 is simply an extension of 2009.