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SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Actress Rachel Fox was just 15 when she made her first, and worst, stock market trade using money she had earned on "Desperate Housewives."
"Never again. That was a one-time thing," Fox said about the underperforming penny stock. "You gotta think long term."
The actress, best known for playing the troubled stepdaughter Kayla Huntington on the hit ABC television show from 2006 to 2008, was one of dozens of millennials who turned up at "Stocktoberfest" at San Diego's landmark Hotel del Coronado this weekend to give and get investment advice.
The weekend-long event run by online site StockTwits attracts a number of younger investors, who between presentations on fintech, fundamentals and the future of finance are known to don wet suits for a quick surf or party on the beach with beers.
At only 20, however, Fox was too young to be served alcohol. Instead, she spent her time drinking bottled water, refreshing her Twitter feed to monitor stock prices and googling unfamiliar financial terms that came up in conversation about the bond market and company debt.
Invited to speak on a panel with portfolio manager and former Yahoo Finance host Jeff Macke, Fox talked about Starbucks, Pokemon and Snapchat. The actress, who also writes a blog called "Fox on Stocks," argued that investors - young and old - needed to harness social and digital content to make better financial decisions.
Being the "resident millennial" at Stocktoberfest didn't bother Fox one bit. "It gives me leverage," she said. "I have people coming up to me and asking: "What's the millennial secret?'"
Patrick Dunuwila, however, was at least one millennial at Stocktoberfest happier to get advice than give it. Dunuwila, 23, said he manages $3 million of his family and friends' money. During the keynote address of the conference, he thought he was off to good start when he opened up the StockTwits mobile app and made two trades that earned him a quick $300.
Then, in a networking session between panels, he said he was "torn apart" by Lee Munson, a former Wall Street stockbroker turned author and founder of Portfolio Wealth Advisors.
"He told me I need to be more aggressive with asking people for money. Get up there and say 'I'm 23, I'm hungry,'" Dunuwila said. "You walk away from that, your ego gets slashed, but I needed to hear it."
Munson, 41, said the harsh advice he gave Dunuwila was advice he wished he had received when he was 23.
"I spent my whole life in New York not knowing that I needed to be aggressive early," said Munson. "You come to a place like Stocktoberfest where you've got all the freaks and all the freedom to just talk. That's what I was doing with Patrick."
Later, Dunuwila said thanks by buying Munson a tequila at the hotel bar after midnight. Fox, on the other hand, had already headed home to work on a new investment app.
Editing by Leela de Kretser and Mary Milliken