Stock Market Adventures

Today is the day when I first opened an account with an online stockbroker. Everything happened so fast, it looks very promising.

Stockbrokers? You mean like the Wall Street movie?

Yes and no. Yes in the sense that I can now buy stocks from publicly listed companies in the Philippine Stock Exchange. No in the sense that I don’t need to call/deal or talk to a stockbroker directly.

The company that I signed-up with is CitiSecOnline. From their FAQ page:

CitisecOnline was established in 1999 with the vision of allowing a low-cost and easily accessible means to invest in the Philippine Stock Market. Over the years, it has developed a full sweep of services to empower the retail investor. These include real-time quotes, research services and reports, as well as expert-broker support, by providing him the tools to assist him make intelligent decisions. It also allows real-time execution of trades, which is the best practice in the local online trading industry. With its experience in servicing experienced investors looking for more convenient ways of stock trading, CitisecOnline is well-poised to drive the development of the online trading investor market in confluence with the increased penetration of internet access, broadband services and increasingly tech-savvy investing public.

I downloaded their application form online, filled it out and prepared the necessary photocopies of my government-issued IDs before going to their office at 2401-B East Tower Philippine Stock Exchange Center, Exchange Road, Ortigas Center, Pasig City. When we got to their vicinity, the place was really busy. There were a lot of cars going by and a lot of business people walking about. We found a pay-parking lot in front of their building and tried our luck with the parking space for about twenty minutes but ended up with the valet parking.

Like Fastfood

We went directly to the 24th floor and asked the guard where we can find the new accounts section. We were brought to a cozy room with tables and chairs meant for discussing any concerns that we may have with the account officer. The account officer asked if I already have “the necessary documents for application” and I said “yes” while pulling it out from my envelope. She just replied with “please wait for a moment as I check these and have them approved” and left. After five minutes, she came back with my new account number and said that the account is now ready to be funded and can be used immediately. She asked us if we have any more clarifications and/or questions – we had none – so I guess the opening of my account is complete. All of these in under fifteen minutes. Just like that, just like ordering fastfood.

Before I can reach my car, I got an email from them reminding me of my account number and how I can fund the account with step-by-step instructions for three different big banks. I can use any of these banks to transfer my funds online – how cool is that?

Technical Problems

Being in the IT industry, I can’t help but notice that they are still using older technologies such as ASP classic and frames. Not to mention the use of tables for the site layout and some misaligned displays here and there. But what’s really puzzling me is that I was not provided with a password. There was nothing in the email they sent, not even a default random password that I will be required to change upon logging in for the first time. All I got is a username. All they’ve got is a login box and a forgot password link. I’m hesitant to use the forgot password since I never had the password. The “open an account” link leads to the list of requirements to be submitted.

Call me stupid for not knowing what to do, but I’d call myself sleepy and tired. Yeah. Whatever.

Loaded with projects

So I’ve been busy

Time passes by real quick these days. Being directly involved in three IT projects under my current employer which deals a lot with the Philippine Government is what’s really eating up my time. Fortunately, the first project that is a nationwide statistical performance reporting system is in the final stages of the knowledge transfer phase via trainings on the technologies used. We have conducted the .Net training and we will be doing the database training next week for maintenance purposes.

Projects that matter

That first project gave me a lot of insight as to how our clients expect their contractor (us) to handle each and every idea/suggestion/improvement that they want to see in their new system. I also learned that emphasizing the “must-haves” versus the “nice-to-haves” is a very important concept if you want to finish on time. It is essential that some nice-to-haves be pushed back and be implemented after the system’s deployment to production just to hit the deadlines. Even after the UAT and during the roll-out/training in regional offices, changes in the UI and processes have cropped up due to new business policies or the lack thereof. I can’t wait to see all of their suggestions and recommendations for the years to come due to the more-than-enough warranty period which is longer than what most multi-national software development companies are offering.

The second project is an enhancement of a system that was started by my current employer ten years ago at about the time when I was still in high school. This project was originally created using a portal development toolkit created by a software giant whose strength was in a relational database management system. In the decade that this system was up and running, its source code and database schema went through the hands of a couple of software development houses who never bothered to update the documentation or to document even only the changes that they introduced. I know this because when I asked for the latest user’s manual, I was given a copy of the manual that my employer gave a decade ago. Now that we have been contracted to fix the system up, we did more than what was needed to be done. Instead of just fixing bugs and/or customizing reports and/or normalizing tables and/or updating affected modules, we re-wrote the whole thing and at the same time upgraded it to a more relevant technology platform. We are now in the process of creating the necessary reports for departmental use before conducting the UAT. If there won’t be much changes, then the project will soon be ready for the public.

The third project is a bridge between the first and the second. The statistical performance data from the second system will be fed automatically to the first system so that the bureaus, departments, field and regional offices can focus on data analysis rather than waste their time waiting for the field reports to come in and consolidate those reports for submission to the higher management.

Startups left and right

I am also busy trying to create a company that is composed of my closest friends. This company will be used for a lot of things and not only for IT-related business ventures. It is always good to diversify your portfolio and to keep an eye out in different industries that is why this new company will be venturing in the stock market, financing, trade of goods and merchandise and as well as food and beverage. We have started to pool our resources and I have acquired the necessary documents from the SEC. We just have to finalize some details and we’ll be good to go.

A former non-IT boss has also invited me to help him start up a new business venture that primarily caters to the thriving tourism industry in the country. We have been on meetings for a number of times now and during those conceptualization meetings, the provisioning of the back-end system will be on me.

On my personal free time (yes, surprisingly I can call it that), I am slowly developing a system that utilizes the publicly available developer’s API in each different web categories such as social networks, entertainment, games, news, photo management and productivity. This system is not yet affiliated with or owned by any company and it will be a mash up of features and functionality from different popular websites which should make it a bit more interesting to see from a regular user’s point of view.

Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines

I hope to finish all projects from my employer before he first half of this year is over and to be able to establish the company with my friends before the first quarter is over because I really need to focus more on the thing that is really important to me – getting married. But I guess that would be for another blog post.