By Juliette Fairley | Forbes Personal Finance
When the stock market sank in 2009, Sandy Chaikin of Philadelphia, lost 40% of the money she’d invested in mutual funds following her financial adviser’s recommendations. “I asked my financial adviser to sell, but he suggested I ride it out,” says Chaikin, 65.
That experience was enough for the veteran marketing executive to look for a new way to invest — mostly on her own, but with guidance from her husband, Marc, a long-time investor and CEO of Chaikin Analytics.
“It’s become very rewarding to be able to take control of my own finances and to have the confidence to say that I can do it,” she says.
The Education a Late-Bloomer Investor
Her education (plus a roaring bull market) paid off.
“I made the money back by selling the mutual funds he had put me in and investing the money in stocks,” Chaikin says. “My portfolio has grown more than three-fold since 2009,” even accounting for the recent market turbulence.
Chaikin’s advice, which she especially declares to women: It’s never too late to learn about investing and it’s a mistake to be in the dark about your portfolio.
“People shouldn’t blindly turn over their money without having some kind of active participation or understanding of how their money is managed,” says Chaikin.
She credits some of her success to her husband’s Chaikin Tools and Chaikin Power Gauge, part of a momentum-stock platform called Chaikin Analytics that he created to help investors who are disillusioned with Wall Street. “I use my iPad every morning, 15 minutes a day, to access the Chaikin Power Gauge, review my portfolio and check which stocks to sell and which to buy,” Chaikin says.
Her Investing Advice to Women
Before going the DIY route, Chaikin’s biggest challenge was overcoming her fears around investing and gaining the confidence to take control of her finances. She was in good company, particularly among women.
Some 72% of women report lacking the confidence to make financial decisions, according to Fidelity. So they just don’t invest.
“I know how these women feel because I was one of them for many years,” says Chaikin. “So I can relate, speak from experience and from the heart,” Chaikin said.
In fact, Chaikin now teaches other women how to start investing. She offers a series of free hour-long webinars, called From Novice to Knowledgeable: Investing 101, in collaboration with NASDAQ.
Topics include how to find winning stocks, how to invest fearlessly and how to avoid the biggest mistakes investors make.
“The webinars are for investors at any level of experience, but we are targeting women because they are underserved by the industry and all the research shows that women as a whole are not confident in financial matters,” says Chaikin.
Stocks Chaikin Looks For
Typically, Chaikin holds eight to 10 stocks plus a small amount in a Vanguard S&P 500 mutual fund for diversification. She maintains that her portfolio has consistently outperformed the S&P 500 benchmark and is up roughly 16 percent so far this year, with holdings such as insurance and health care companies Aetna, Cigna and Centene.
Last year, Chaikin says, she picked the two best performing stocks of 2014, Southwest Airlines and Skyworks Solutions.
“One of the criteria I recommend is to invest only in stocks that are on an upward trend,” says Chaikin, who uses the buy/sell signal from her husband’s analytics to identify companies with momentum. She holds a stock until the Chaikin power gauge turns to neutral and “money flow” or “relative strength” indicators turn negative. “I don’t hold on to a stock until it turns bearish, I get out beforehand,” she says.
“Another of my criteria is for a stock to be strong relative to the S&P 500,” Chaikin says. “I also look at institutional money going in and out of a stock.”
A Cautionary View
Mitch Tuchman, managing director and chief investment officer with Rebalance IRA, a financial advisory firm in Bethesda, Md., advises against picking stocks purely based on momentum, however.
“You might have better odds going to Vegas,” Tuchman says. “Risk means losing money permanently; investors can avoid that by building well-diversified portfolios.”