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22-year-old triples $100,000 principal in nine days, wins Phillip Nova challenge

The final-year undergraduate at the Singapore Management University won a $1,000 cash prize.

In less than 10 days, 22-year-old Mihir Malhotra more than tripled $100,000 in principal using Phillip Nova’s MT5 trading platform.

Mihir made one final swap on Sept 27, turning in $322,652 in virtual credits for a $1,000 cash prize at the close of the Phillip Nova Young Investors Trading Challenge 2022.

Notably, the final-year business undergraduate at the Singapore Management University only entered the markets in May. “I guess why I started so late was because I wasn't confident enough. It's a game of confidence.”

The intern at Singapore-based crude oil trader SK Energy International also started late in the competition, after losing a day to a technical issue with his account.

Although participants were allowed to trade in foreign exchange (FX) and contract for differences (CFD), Mihir only traded Brent crude CFDs. He based his trading decisions on weekly reports issued by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). He also encountered one OPEC+ meeting on Sept 5, where the body announced the first oil production cut in over a year.

“When you're trading oil, you're competing against all these big producers and refiners; you also have the trading houses. So, who am I to compete against that?” says Mihir at a panel discussion.

While Mihir thinks investing is for everyone, he stresses that discipline is a key trait for success. “You’re risking your own money. I hate to lose even a single penny; that's how disciplined you should be, in my opinion. Don't just do a trade for the sake of it. It really has to do with discipline.”

Having traded virtual credits, Mihir admits he “definitely took a lot of risky trades”. “But I wouldn't keep a position open for a day; I took my positions very quickly, because they were all based on macro events.”

The runners-up received $500 and $300 respectively. Phillip Nova also awarded $50 each to participants who placed fourth through 23rd.

Phillip Nova’s competition welcomed 360 participants this cycle. Now in its third year, this is the first time Phillip Nova opened the challenge to novice traders aged between 18 and 30.

This year’s programme began with two introductory bootcamps by professional trader Ang Kar Yong and Phillip Nova strategist Lee Yi Jie, followed by 10 trading days between Aug 29 and Sept 9.

Established in 1983, Phillip Nova, formerly known as Phillip Futures, has provided brokerage services to clients for nearly 40 years.

“The Phillip Nova Young Investor Programme started two years ago and has, in a short time, established a strong rapport with the investment clubs and societies of top local universities through joint webinars, promotions and events such as trading competitions,” says Grace Chan, executive director of Phillip Nova.

Chan adds: “We saw a gap in terms of the increasing number of young investors and the lack of qualified knowledge-providers from the industry. This is where we come in, to share not just our own knowledge but to also connect young investors with a wide range of industry experts so that the young investors grow in their trading expertise.”

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