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The fictional character I relate to most would be Michael Burry from the movie The Big Short. In terms of a career path, I see myself working in the finance sector, whether it means working as a personal finance consultant or owning a hedge fund. My interest in the subject of finance and investment first sparked when my father set up a brokerage account for my 16th birthday. Having this trading account made me feel powerful; I felt like I could earn all the money in the world.
The character of Michael Burry is a self-confessed aloof person who believes he is just skilled at working and thinking with numbers. A memorable quote he used to describe himself was “I don’t know how to be sarcastic. I don’t know how to be funny. I don’t know how to work people. I just know how to read numbers.” While I certainly am not as eccentric of a person as Michael Burry, I always find myself thinking and calculating about concepts such as numbers, risk, and investing. I’ve created seven paper-trading accounts, and I find myself checking them multiple times everyday. I try to create portfolios with different strategies, some designed to be high-risk which contain volatile, lower-priced stocks and some designed to be low-risk, which contain blue-chip stocks and mutual funds.
Similar to how Michael Burry questioned the conventional knowledge that the housing market would never crash (since it never had before), I strongly believe that questioning conventional knowledge is the only chance for society to progress, in any field of knowledge. A simple example of this was when everyone once believed the Earth was flat. In the world of finance, “flat-earth” thinking is essentially following what the “experts” say. In the movie, Burry was met with significant backlash by his clients and investors when he made the decision to short the housing market. Despite the amount of pressure and criticism he had, he still chose to focus his investment strategy around his original theory that the banks were giving out bad loans, which caused many borrowers to default, thus making the mortgage bonds that were backed by these loans worthless. As someone who obsessively reads financial headlines and analyses, I can say that there are too many stock pickers or “investment experts” with different views, predictions, and analyses that at the end of the day, a person has to think for himself in the world of finance and investing. The idea of not always following conventional knowledge, I believe, applies to all fields of academia.
Finally, I relate to Michael Burry for his grit. I have no problem spending hours on a computer reading spreadsheets or doing research as long as I feel that there is a purpose behind it. The truth is, I need to feel that there is something on the line to bring out my best work. When I do find out what that something is, I put in whatever time and effort it takes.
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