A 19-year-old who taught himself how to trade stocks after watching videos on YouTube says he has now turned his original £200 investment into a portfolio worth more than £200,000 in under a year.
The stock market feels more accessible than ever to those on the outside, with information shared freely on social media and recent mainstream interest sparked by a Reddit movement that inflated the stock price of GameStop to fight back against wealthy hedge funds.
But Adam Mlamali hasn’t simply jumped on a trend hoping to make quick money by copying others; instead he’s managed to reach a level of success few achieve through his own in-depth analysis and investing in causes he truly believes in.
While still at school in Milton Keynes and studying for A-Levels in business studies and computer science, Adam set up an online store selling jewellery as his first business venture, and its success gave him confidence to explore other opportunities.
Videos on YouTube breaking down the stock market, terminology, trading tactics and analysis ignited an interest that grew quickly, while the teenager was also accepted onto a finance apprenticeship in central London, where he still works.
After seeking advice from family members, Adam found he had a knack for trading, but says his initial success came through investing in a company that was chasing his childhood dream.
“What drove me towards the markets was hearing that, although I wouldn’t do it if there wasn’t the financial gain, it’s more about being able to invest in causes that you like,” he said. “The idea is money is power, but money is power because you can drive causes that you want to see driven.
“For me I was heavily interested in space really early on, only because I wanted to be an astronaut when I was younger. I was an early investor into Virgin Galactic, and Virgin Galactic was probably my best performing stock. I made over 100% at the end of it.”
Adam says he now sits on investments worth more than £200,000 and predicts it could reach the million pound mark in the next 10 years if he’s able to repeat the success over a sustained period of time.
He admits that at the start, like many young people when they first come into money, he would pose with cash and items he had bought on social media, but all that has now stopped as he switches his focus to long-term success for both himself and his family.
When Covid-19 hit, he says he “went all in” and began investing heavily in stocks with his new found confidence, moving back in with his mum and younger brother, which in turn freed up more money for investment.
The teenager says a few years ago his mum had gone into credit card debt just to get the family through Christmas and he is determined to help her to show his appreciation for everything she has done.
Although withdrawing his investments could change their lives overnight, Adam is in it for long-haul and hopes to use money made through stocks to launch his own businesses and buy property to provide on-going support.
He says his mum has been supportive of his self-taught skill from the start, but that he kept secret from her how much money he was putting in at the beginning to get it off the ground.
“Initially I surprised myself, even in the amount I was willing to invest and the time in which it’s grown,” he said.
“My mum at the start was like ‘only risk what you can afford’ so I didn’t tell her about how much I was investing. She hadn’t got a clue because she would have just been like ‘why are you investing so much?’
“But I guess she’s at the point now, after seeing me start my businesses, she has that trust. She’s never really been like ‘I’m going to have control over your finances and watch every single thing you’re doing’.
Since he began, Adam has continued to invest in companies he wants to see succeed, including those concerned with clean energy such as electric transport, and says he tries to strike a balance in his portfolio between worthy causes and stocks that will bring financial gain.
But whichever companies he invests in, he says: “I need to have an interest in it, that’s what’s going to make me want to research it. If it drops then I know why, I can see if they still have longevity or not, or if the company has changed fundamentally.”
His research goes as far to look at new positions a company is hiring for, and who gets those jobs, in a bid to predict their future strategy and releases.
And Adam says it’s a level of detail anyone hoping to find long-term success in stock-trading will have to replicate – rather than those looking at online trends in the hope of stumbling on a get rich quick scheme. He also warned that, like him, you’ll have to be prepared to take losses along the way.
“I would just advise people that what you see online, I would take it with a pinch of salt,” he said. “I have made my investments quite quickly, however I’ve really gone against the grain in terms of what I am investing in.
“Me investing in Virgin Galactic for example was a company I was really passionate about, even if I lost money I was aiming to help a cause that I support, so it made sense.
“If you don’t know what you’re investing in, I would not invest. If you make money and it’s calculated, you can do it again.
“Investing in something because everyone else is doing it, that’s just a complete gamble. Do you want to make money gambling or whereby you’ve got a skill and you can apply that skill? You don’t have to rely on somebody else sending a tweet that gets popular.
“A lot of my friends message me like ‘should I buy this, should I buy that?’, and I say ‘you’re going about it completely the wrong way’.
“You should be telling me why you are investing in this specific company. If it’s a new company, what are the future projections like? If it’s an existing company, what are their financials looking like? How’s it performing in the current market?
“Know the company you’re investing in and do the research before making the investment and that will make the investment 10 times worth it, because you know you can reapply the same kind of analysis, and you know you didn’t rely on someone else. It was all you.”