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Wall Street to White Coat: Interview with Dr. Unger MD MBA II


Wyatt Unger, M.D., M.B.A, is a 3rd year radiology resident at the University of Arizona. Wyatt earned a B.A in Economics from Northwestern University and an M.B.A. from the University of Arizona. Prior to pursuing a career in medicine, Wyatt has worked as an equity options market maker at the NYSE/ARCA options exchange and the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), as well as a proprietary equities trader at Great Point Capital. Wyatt has previously held Series 7, 55, and 63 certifications.

This is part 2 of my interview with Wyatt Unger, M.D., M.B.A, a 3rd year radiology resident at the University of Arizona and former equity options market maker at the NYSE/ARCA options exchange and the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE). Part 1 can be read here.

Through this "Wall Street to White Coat" interview series, Dr. Unger will share his firsthand experience from Wall Street and his extensive education/ knowledge in finances and economics with his white-coat colleagues.

When the stock market is volatile like it is now, what is the best investment strategy the frequency and timing of putting money in the market?

There's no clear research that one strategy outperforms another strategy when deciding when to invest during a volatile market. Warren Buffett said “when others are greedy be fearful and when others are fearful be greedy.” There are definitely opportunities in a volatile market so it is important to remain levelheaded and look for them. The most important thing is not to panic and to have a clear set of investment objectives and goals that you continue to pursue during the market volatility.

What indicators are useful for deciding if the companies undervalued (therefore a good stock to buy and hold)?

The value of the company is determined by how much income the company can generate and also how much that income is expected to grow in the future. Stocks are generally divided between growth stocks, where price-to-earnings ratio's can be quite high and value stocks, which would generate a stable income without much growth. It is really difficult to determine if a company is undervalued looking only at these ratios. Teams of professionals with full access to their accounting books have a difficult time making this determination. It is generally better to assume that the market has better information than you do about the value of the stock and pursue a diversified portfolio. You can set a portion of your portfolio side for single stock investments if you have a really strong feeling about an investment but realize that single stocks are inherently more risk than index funds.

Should I invest or pay down my student loans?

This really depends on the interest rate you're paying on your student loans. The long run historical average of returns for the market is around 8% but going forward this is more likely to be in the 5 to 6% range. A lot of student debt has an interest rate of 7% however the after-tax interest payment is lower so you might expect a higher rate of return with stocks.

However you have to consider that a debt is still due if you lose your job, your health or find yourself in other unforeseen circumstances. With a long time horizon and from a perspective looking just at the rates of return investing in stocks is probably better, however paying off debt will help you deal with unforeseen circumstances.

What books on investment do you recommend reading?

I recommend A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel, Reminiscences of a Stock Operator, and anything by Warren Buffett.

What percentage of my stock holdings do you recommend for single stocks vs. index funds:

There is a lot of research out there that investors who pick single stocks underperform the market as a whole so my short answer to this question would be 0%. Sticking to index funds will minimize your risk, save you time, and help you sleep better at night. You can allocate a portion of your investments to single stocks as you gain more experience and if you enjoy it. There is no magic number for how much to invest in single stocks but when doing so, diversification becomes even more important in managing your downside risk, which becomes more substantial when investing in single stocks.

Any question you want to ask Dr. Unger? Comment at

If you like this article, you might enjoy other DWM articles on Personal Finance, Investing, Retirement, Practice Management, & Lifestyle.

All articles by DWM are for informational purposes only and not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Please consult a professional accountant, financial adviser or lawyer, before making financial decisions.

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