You can literally hear the money vanishing and multiplying at stockbroker Alan Lawrence’s office. The soundtrack — the clatter of keystrokes and the pinging of the BSE and NSE applications — is the same regardless of the result.
That suits Lawrence because, whatever the mood of the market, he likes to remain smiling and calm.
“He’s that one guy who will lift your spirits even when the blue chips are falling,” says a client with salt-and-pepper hair. On this day, the market has fallen 200 points in the first few minutes of trading and, after a slow climb, is heading down again in a jagged line.
“It’s all human psychology, these numbers,” says Lawrence, 61. “It’s about interpreting the emotions behind this buy-and-sell business. Keep your emotions in check when you’re buying and you will be able to do the same when you sell.”
The zen attitude is not easy to maintain, Lawrence admits. One trick he uses, he says, is to never read the day’s papers or watch the TV market shows before work. “It helps if you are neutral about the market all day rather than acting on every turn it takes.”
So Lawrence starts his day at 5 am, reading newspapers and newsmagazines from the days before. This is followed by some meditation, freestyle exercise and a breakfast of muesli, dry fruit, sandwiches and a glass of milk “with a dash of coffee”. Lawrence then stoically watches a few moments of a TV show on stock market.
At 8.15, he leaves the two-bedroom Santacruz home that he shares with his wife, daughter and granddaughter and heads to work on his motorcycle, to clock in at 8.45 sharp.
“I check… everything before the market bell is rung. Check if the lines are working, the computers are functioning, there’s no technical hitch to upset the day,” he says, breaking into peals of laughter.
Lawrence has a child-like optimism about everything — restarting his career at 36, rejecting a 30% partnership in favour of keeping it simple, investing.
The son of a bank manager, he graduated in Commerce and started his career as operations manager at an oil-drilling company. “But I always wanted to set up something of my own,” he says.
Twelve years on, he discovered the returns that his father had made on investments in stocks and decided to make the markets his calling. At his Bandra office at Satco Securities, the three windows on his two computers are now his domain.
“I have a passion for training the youth, who are not that risk-averse and therefore make ideal investors. Seeing young clients make 28% makes you feel good that you are helping them plan for their future,” he says.
While most of his clients are middle-aged or older, but about 20% are college students and young professionals who have just started earning.
Between fielding calls and consulting with visiting clients, Lawrence takes a break at 12.45, for a lunch of rice, meat and vegetables with his colleagues. Then it’s back to the flickering screens. WhatsApp has made things much easier, he says.
“I use WhatsApp too, mostly to share jokes about Alia Bhatt and Rajinikanth with my 30-year-old daughter Althea — she is also a stockbroker, at a big firm.”
As soon as the markets shut at 3.30, Lawrence heads home to his family — and the day’s newspapers. At 6, it’s off for his daily walk with friends, followed by a dinner of meat, vegetables and roti made by his wife Cheryl, 53, a homemaker.
“I love chapati, chocolate and Goa,” he says, grinning. “We all go home to Goa every month or so, to let time expand and slow down.”
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