Q&A: Julian Marchese, 15-year-old day-trading savant

Q&A: Julian Marchese, 15-year-old day-trading savant

He created a computer program that can earn money while he’s at school. Who says today’s kids can’t manage their finances?

Julian Marchese

How did you get into the stock market?
I wanted to set my parents up for financial freedom, so I Googled ways to make money, and I started reading up on the stock market. When I was 8, I saw my parents log in to their brokerage account, and I remembered the password and went in and bought stock for an airline company. My mom nearly had a heart attack.

Why an airline company?
It was 2004, and the airline industry was coming back post-9/11. Another time, when I was 9, I recommended that my parents buy into a uranium company. They didn’t, but in two months the company tripled in value.

You went on Dragons’ Den with a computer system you designed that can make you money while you’re in class. How does that work?
I created a few mathematical models and plugged them into a software platform so that it can trade without me being there. I back-tested the strategy for four years. I’m only 15, so I can’t trade on my own yet, but if I’d invested $50,000 in 2008 it would now be at $180,000.

Wow. What’s the strategy?
Essentially, when the average price of oil hits an extreme, the program looks to trade. I use oil because it’s more rational—it’s countries trading, not average joes like in the stock market—and there’s usually some sort of comeback, and that’s what it takes advantage of. So it’s a simple average: when it goes to an extreme low, it looks to buy; when it hits an extreme high, it looks to sell.

It sounds like you’ve found the Holy Grail. What’s the catch?
Strategies only work for a certain amount of time—usually until enough people discover the same strategy. So I’m constantly looking for the next edge.

The Dragons gave you $50,000 to test your system. How is that going?
Well, I don’t actually have the money yet. I’ve spoken to the Dragons’ lawyer and they’re now doing due diligence.

How do you get your homework and chores done and stay up on the markets?
I get up around 7 a.m. and go into my office—I have the top floor of our Mississauga townhouse all to myself—and turn on CNBC. I check out what happened overnight. Europe’s in play right now, and a lot of things there will affect what the U.S. and Canada do. After school, I go to my computers, pull up my charts and see what happened. When the markets close at 4, I’ll do whatever.

Which is what?
You know, whatever’s up. Sports, homework. On Wednesdays, I co-host an Internet-based radio show on power trading. Or I play my electric guitar. I’m really into Zeppelin and Van Halen. Or I watch South Park, Family Guy or The Simpsons.

Do any of your friends get jealous of all the attention you’re getting?
Well, if they get jealous, then they’re not my friends. Plus, at school, I’m totally different. I’m not talking about all this technical crap. We talk about video games and stuff. But you could say the stock market is my Call of Duty: I’m going into a battlefield every day, but I’m fighting the banks.

Speaking of which, if you had one minute with Ben Bernanke, what would you say?
Have you checked me out on YouTube yet?

Are you saving up for something special?
I tell my dad I’d like to buy him the Leafs. I’d also like a Rolex Yacht-Master II.

And then the yacht to go with it?
Hopefully, yeah.

What else is on your to-do list?
My goal is to launch my own hedge fund. But I want a master’s degree in economics and psychology first.

Where does world domination come in?
I’m working on it.