Originally Posted by wjw
This isn't necessarily true. People sell stock because they want the money more than they want the potential upside. People buy stock because they want the potential upside more than they want the money. It isn't necessarily zero-sum. (If it was, the overall market would never go up).
My answer to your direct question is: if you learn how to trade well, and once you've learnt that skill you pass it on to others, then you're doing good. Sometimes it's necessary to spend time focusing on your own skills before you can help others. Skills that you enjoy exercising are the ones you're most likely to get good at.
Technically it's not zero-sum, but functionally it is.
When a person trades stocks through a stock broker, only the broker makes money. Brokers do NOT trade their own money either.
Basically, the sad fact about 99% of brokers who deal with other people's money is that they don't make their clients any money on the whole. If you trade with a broker your expected return will be below the return on the market as a whole.
Also, trading your own money unless you have specific "insider"ish information will net you nothing that you can live on, unless you are starting with millions and investing long term.
Gemini, you might want to examine WHY you want to trade stocks. Is it because you romanticise the social position and the image that a stock trader has? Is it because you enjoy the work itself? It's worth exploring to find the core value that makes you want to trade, and maybe you can use that value to do something similar but more beneficial.
I mean, ultimately, you can do what a guy like Warren Buffet does. It would be wrong to call him a trader and he's certainly not a typical investor. He's sort of a researcher who identifies exceptional companies, buys them up entirely and ensures they succeed. THAT is certainly a social benefit. And look - now that Buffet has 40 billion he is donating all of it to charity.
So there is definitely good that can be done in the financial sector. However it won't be through typical brokeraging or "day trading". At least I strongly strongly doubt it.