How much can a software developer learn about individual investing from being employed developing financial software? A few examples of such software would be the Bloomberg Terminal, charting software, brokerage account websites, user interfaces for traders, or quantitative trading algorithms. Would certain projects provide a better learning experience than others?

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    Depends highly on the project and what part of it you're working on. Unanswerable as written. – keshlam Aug 5 '15 at 4:33
  • I would assume if you developed financial software using 'quantitative trading algorithms' you could be able to implement them in your own investing strategy. – NuWin Aug 5 '15 at 4:39
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    Individuals aren't institutions. I think you would be much better served reading about individual/personal investing (books, blogs, this site). – briantist Aug 5 '15 at 5:33
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    I think this is like asking how well a mechanic would be at designing a car. Just because you know how the internals of the engine work doesn't mean you're going to make beautiful fenders. – Anthony Russell Aug 5 '15 at 14:08
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    As a programmer working at a hedge fund, the answer is - not too much. Programmers spend a lot of time in the weeds and know the systems inside and out better than the users of the system, but the users are drawing on much, much more information than the system is providing. It's like asking how much you can learn about selling newspapers by being a journalist. Sure, you're intimately involved in the product, but that doesn't mean you've got all the parts of the puzzle. – David Rice Aug 5 '15 at 21:57

My master's thesis was on using genetic algorithms and candle stick method. If you are familiar, the AI was used to answer questions like "what is a long day", which is not formally defined in most candle stick texts.

So in theory unlimited potential for learning including teaching machines to learn. Wall street pays pretty well for such developers, and if you are young and single man Manhattan is pretty sweet place to be.

In practicality your formula for building wealth is the same as everyone else's: get out of debt, build an emergency fund, and invest. Initially invest in growth stock mutual funds through a 401K (assuming US).

  • You seem to be a fan of growth stock mutual funds. Care to back up your advice about investing in growth stock mutual funds with academic research that shows growth stocks return more than, say, value stocks? Or better yet, a well-diversified portfolio that has both growth stocks and value stocks. – juhist Dec 26 '15 at 0:06

The software you provided as an example won't teach you much about investing.

The most important things of investing are:

  • allocation: do you invest your money in stocks, bonds or real estates?
  • diversification: international diversification, diversification between large and small companies, diversification in time, etc.
  • managing costs and taxes

These are the only free lunches in investing. Allocation tells you how much expected return (and also how much risk) your portfolio has. Diversification is the only way to reduce risk without reducing return; however, just note that there is market risk that cannot be eliminated with diversification. Every penny you save on costs and taxes is important, as it's guaranteed return.

If you were to develop e.g. software that calculates the expected return of a portfolio when given allocation as an input, it could teach you something about investing. Similarly, software that calculates the average costs of your mutual fund portfolio would teach you something about investing. But sadly, these kinds of software are uncommon.

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