Meet the 17-year-old investor who tripled his money

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By Patrick Gillespie

NEW YORK (CNNMoney – April 28, 2015) — Brandon Fleisher is making a fortune.

He has more than tripled his investments in two years — from $48,000 to $147,000.

That might not sound like much, until you realize that Brandon is a 17-year-old high school senior. While many teens try for the perfect Instagram and Snapchat selfie, Brandon spends his spare time running the website and newsletter, The Financial Bulls, to help new investors learn about the markets — for free.

Feeling small yet? There’s more.

CEOs take Brandon’s calls. When he bought thousands of shares of mobile-advertising company Inuvo, Brandon had questions. Inuvo’s CEO, Richard Howe, picked up.

“He would call and ask fairly intelligent and insightful questions even though we thought he was 17 or 18 years old,” says Alan Sheinwald, Inuvo’s investor relations counsel. “He really acts as though he’s a professional investor.”

Brandon the investor: Brandon has learned a lot since he started “back then,” at age 13.

In his 8th grade math class, Brandon’s teacher asked students to pick a stock to follow and see how it performed. Did he pick: Apple? Starbucks? GE? Nah, The Toronto native went for Avalon Rare Metals.

Avalon’s stock ended up hitting an all-time high that spring.

“Investing is something I love to do,” Brandon says.

Soon after the class, Brandon started trading fake stocks on Marketwatch.com. He got so good that his mom, a dentist, and his dad, who runs a metal scrap business, co-signed a TD Ameritrade Direct account and gave him $48,000 of their savings to invest.

His approach: Brandon has had an unusual investing style since his middle school math class days. Most fund managers recommend that new investors buy big, well-known stocks or put their money into mutual funds or ETFs.

Not Brandon. He usually goes for small cap stocks, and he hasn’t held onto a stock for more than a year, he says.

Brandon only owns eight stocks (one outlier to his philosophy is Time Warner, CNN’s parent company). He likes investing in small companies for a few reasons. When almost anything happens to the company or its industry, the news is bound to move a small stock.

As Brandon found with Inuvo, small companies sometimes make their leadership accessible to investors, providing a spotlight into the company’s brains.

“It’s almost like you can give them a job interview to see if you would want that person to be the CEO,” Brandon says.

It’s these types of insights Brandon is trying to shine the light on for other young investors.

Brandon the writer: Millennials are known for their love of sharing online. Brandon does the same thing, just with stock picks and investing tips.

He breaks down definitions in his “Investing 101” guide. He has a team of 40 (unpaid) writers for The Financial Bulls and its newsletter, which has grown from 60 subscribers in January to 375 today. Brandon met most of the writers online through a group called Leaders Investment Club.

“I want to encourage people to learn about investing,” Brandon says. The site “gets ideas out from younger investors and gives a fresh look on things.”

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