Curtis Carroll is a successful investor and informal financial advisor. He’s also an inmate in the San Quentin State Prison in Northern California, where he’s serving 54 years to life for his involvement in a robbery attempt that ended in murder.
Carroll – better known as “Wall Street” on the inside – discovered the stock market when he asked a fellow inmate to read the financial section of a newspaper to him. He couldn’t read at the time and thought it was the sports sections. It was a pivotal moment for Carroll.
“I had never heard the word [stocks] before,” said Carroll to The Kitchen Sisters, who produced a segment on him for NPR. “I couldn’t believe that this kind of access to this [type] of money could be accessible to anybody. Everybody should do it. And it’s legal!”
You can listen to the recent NPR segment here:
An Even Field
Carroll doesn’t have access to the internet. Instead he veraciously reads The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Forbes, trying to anticipate what the stock market will do next… along with the rest of us.
“I like to know what the CEO’s doing,” he said. “I like to know who’s in trouble.”
He makes trades and checks closing prices by calling family members.
“I’m in prison, but I’m on just the same playing field as Warren Buffett,” said Carroll. “I can pick the exact same companies. I can’t buy as many shares, but technically we’re just the same.”
Carroll doesn’t have the typical investor background. He spent most of his youth homeless in Oakland, California with no stable family. He didn’t know how to read or write and eventually joined a gang and began committing crimes. He entered the prison system at 17 and has been there for 20 years.
But something changed for Carroll when he learned about the stock market. He taught himself to read and learns everything he can about finance and the stock market.
Carroll is sharing his newfound knowledge, too. He co-founded a group called Freeman Capital that teaches other inmates how to plan their personal finances, including investing, retirement, and managing the money they currently have.
“There’s four steps,” he says. “Every person on this planet that has made money has mastered these four simple steps: savings, cost control, borrowing prudently, and diversification.”
Spoken like a true investor.