Voleo Spotlight: Investment Club Member, Karen Lo
July 25, 2017
Voleo began with a very clear mission in mind: to make investing a social experience by allowing people to easily set up their own investment club with friends and peers. Our beliefs, namely that investing should not be a solitary chore and that collective understanding and knowledge leads to better outcomes, are at the core of what we do everyday. You can imagine our joy when we find users who hold these same beliefs and are champions of the social investing experience.
One of our wonderful champions is Karen, a software engineer based in San Diego. As an engineer, Karen has a keen eye for improvements that can be made to enhance a user’s experience and her feedback has been both appreciated and implemented. Having started her own investment club, we asked Karen if we could feature her on our blog and highlight her investment strategies. Luckily, she said yes!
You’re a software engineer, is this the career you always pictured yourself in?
I never pictured myself as anything close to an engineer growing up. I wanted to be an artist when I was a kid, but found myself fascinated with anatomy and biology in high school, so went to college thinking I’d probably become some sort of researcher one day. I chose to take an introductory programming course to fill in a scheduling conflict, but ended up falling in love with the puzzles and possibilities in computer science and never looked back .
“I’m quick to try new products, but the ones I keep and interact with on a daily basis are ones that have very intuitive user interfaces and help me stay on top of the things in my life.”
How does engineering affect your perception of products, services, and apps that you interact with on a daily basis?
Being a software engineer, I am naturally immersed in the tech field. I view everything with a critical eye, but am also empathetic when it comes to newer apps. I’m quick to try new products, but the ones I keep and interact with on a daily basis are ones that have very intuitive user interfaces and help me stay on top of the things in my life.
What do you see as the benefits of investing together, as part of a community vs. going it alone?
As a community, everyone is responsible for the outcomes and decisions. If there’s something I’m unsure about, there’s a sense of assurance when I know I can talk to people I trust. If I’m knowledgeable in certain areas, I’m able to share my expertise, which is always rewarding. You definitely learn a lot by investing alone, but as a group you learn a lot from others and have friends to verify your decisions.
“It’s hard to bring up conversations about money on a normal basis, but being on Voleo, bringing up an investment opportunity or suggesting a trade is what everyone on there expects.”
What is it about Voleo that appeals to you as an investor, and as someone who is keen to learn more about investing?
What’s so appealing about Voleo is that it’s a social platform. I have friends I already chat with about finances and investments, so this was the perfect platform for us to have a central point of communication. It’s hard to bring up conversations about money on a normal basis, but being on Voleo, bringing up an investment opportunity or suggesting a trade is what everyone on there expects. There’s no pressure if someone who is new to investing has questions or is looking for input.
How did you come to start your investment club?
A colleague attended a fintech conference that Voleo’s CEO, Thomas Beattie, was speaking at. He heard about Voleo, was intrigued, and initiated a workplace challenge to see who could set up their investment club first. I won the challenge, and needless to say, our club is still going strong, and growing!
What have you gained from being part of an investment club?
I’ve become more careful about which stocks I propose to research and invest. Since I’m not the only stakeholder, I have learned to do my share of the research so that I can provide valuable input to contribute to a meaningful discussion.
How often does your club propose stocks, and what has been your best trade as a club to date?
My club most often proposes stocks when we’re anticipating laws to be passed or after a major announcement. We’re still relatively new, but so far our best trade was Apple ($APPL).
“It’s probably cliche, but when it comes to investing I do like to follow Warren Buffett’s approach. I’m not someone who trades very often because I am not constantly following the market, so his approach of buying stocks you really like and understand and holding on to them for long periods of time makes a lot of sense to me.”
What kind of investor would you consider yourself, and are there any particular people that you look up to when it comes to investing?
I’m relatively new to this field, so I would say I’m generally a more conservative investor, but do not necessarily limit myself to just mutual funds or ETFs. If I have enough information and there’s enough data to back up what others might see as riskier stocks, I am open to adding them to my portfolio. It’s probably cliche, but when it comes to investing I do like to follow Warren Buffett’s approach. I’m not someone who trades very often because I am not constantly following the market, so his approach of buying stocks you really like and understand and holding on to them for long periods of time makes a lot of sense to me.
What is one of the most important things you look at when determining if an investment is right for you?
I generally gravitate towards investment opportunities that historically trend upwards. I also like to hold on to things long-term, so stocks that pay good dividends is a plus.
What is one area of investing that you’re looking forward to learning more about?
I would love to be more involved in learning about the biotech industry. The field is so innovative and changing so fast that it’s hard to tell which companies to follow and what tech has the potential to change our world.
What would you tell a novice investor is the most important thing to understand?
I would tell a novice investor that investing takes patience and a lot of time, and is not a means of “getting rich quick”. You don’t have to be incredibly rich to start investing, and the earlier you start, the better position you will be in in the future.
What kind of content do you look for when it comes to learning about the markets, and how to grow your portfolio?
I usually start with something I’m not familiar with. I take a look at the big players in that field and learn about how they’ve been doing within the past few years, or if there have been any major events affecting their progress. I read a lot of articles from sites like Seeking Alpha to see what the general opinions are before forming my own opinion. Sometimes I take these opinions to my friend who has more investing experience to ask what they think, and go on from there.
What does your ideal weekend look like in San Diego?
My ideal weekend in San Diego is waking up early to go stand-up paddling, having breakfast/brunch at a quiet cafe, and then taking a nap. In the afternoon I’d want to check out some of the micro-breweries in the area, try a new restaurant, and go on an evening hike around the shores.
What is your favourite travel destination?
I’m not a huge world traveler, so there are probably many amazing destinations I have yet to visit, but my favorite travel destination so far is probably Belgium. I love how beautiful the architecture is, and the landscape is so lush and green. The people I met were all very nice and welcoming and it’s just a very peaceful place to be.
How do you start your mornings?
I wake up at 5:30AM every weekday to hit the gym. Even if I can’t control what happens during the rest of my day, at least this is one part I can consistently keep myself accountable for.
How often do you check in on your stocks?
I usually check my stocks every morning before heading to work.
An enormous thank you to Karen for taking the time to chat with us, and for sharing her investing story!