While most 16-year-olds could tell you more about the symbols used in texting than the ones used on Wall Street, Max Levin is an exception. He has made investing in the stock market a round-the-clock endeavor.
Earlier this year, he started Stockpick101.com, a website that aims to provide young investors with information about different sectors of the market, and he started writing a column for stock guru Jim Cramer’s site, TheStreet.com, under the heading, “Stockpick Whiz Kid.”
“Not many bigwigs on Wall Street think that the younger generation is interested in investing, but there are tons of kids that want to make money,” said Levin, who will be a junior at Eastern Regional High School in Voorhees, N.J. “They are interested in investing but have no way of finding out information.”
Levin said his interest in the stock market started with his grandfather, Howard,who was retired and spent his time trading stocks. He taught the elementary school student about trading techniques, graphing, dividends, options and other investing basics.
Levin’s parents apparently felt confident enough in his knowledge of the stock market to let him invest on his own some of his Bar Mitzvah gift money. Levin won’t share the specifics of what returns he’s seen but he does say, “I’ve done well. It’s a stepping-stone for my future.”
Levin’s story, like that of most investors, includes a bit of luck. A few years ago, while competing in lacrosse at the JCC Maccabi Games in Nashville, Tenn., his host was driving him to an event and listening to Bloomberg Radio. Levin asked him why.
The host, Michael Kisber, told him that he traded bonds and was president of FTN Financial, a major financial company in Manhattan. He eventually invited Levin to visit his company’s offices.
Levin wore a suit, designer glasses and spoke knowledgeably about the equities market. At the end of the day, Levin introduced Kisber to his driver, who also happened to be his mom. Kisber has acted as something of a mentor to the teenage stock trader ever since.
Kisber said Levin is an “adult stuck in a kid’s body.”
“He wants to trade equities, and he has the aptitude to do it,” Kisber added.
This summer, Levin’s been getting up at 6 a.m. one day each week to make the trek by bus to Manhattan for an internship with TheStreet.com. The founder and chairman of the financial resources website is Cramer, a Philadelphia native who hosts Mad Money on CNBC and is also Levin’s hero.
Levin said he and Cramer share the “same mission to gather the new investor, to reach the younger generation.”
Although he refers to the younger generation in the third person — the way a parent would — Levin just became old enough to drive. Does his Mom worry that he’s growing up too quickly?
Jill Levin said her son is not all business, that he’s a lot of “fun to be around. He’s an amazing brother to his younger brother and sister.”
“But he’s very motivated,” his mother added. “He has a vision, and he’s working towards it.”