Raimund Brichta is one of the stock market veterans on German television. He built up n-tv’s business news. He has moderated the Telebörse since 1992. In the FOCUS online interview, Brichta talks about his career, the stock market and dealing with stage fright.

FOCUS Online: How would you summarize your career so far?

Raimund Brichta: At the beginning of my career, I twice acted against the advice of others and was spot on: A careers advisor advised me not to do a traineeship immediately after graduation, which the business news agency VWD had offered me. I’d better go to university first and then start at a “real” news outlet, he said. His words “Nobody knows VWD” are still in my ears today. I started at VWD anyway, did my traineeship there and was then able to finance my studies by working as an editor at VWD on the side.

And mistake number two?

Brichta: A few years later I ignored advice from the then managing director of VWD: he warned me not to go to the Tele-Börse. The show won’t be around much longer because the funding is shaky, he said. That was in 1989. The Tele-Börse still exists today, but VWD is long gone.

In the 1990s, as head of the economics department, you set up the said tele exchange at ntv. What were the biggest challenges?

Brichta: The greatest challenge was also a great opportunity: Up until then, there had never been any TV stock market reporting for the general public, and some people pointed out that something like that wasn’t even possible. We have shown that it is possible and even found many imitators.

At that time, shares were considered “gambling” by many. Did you want to fight prejudice with information?

Brichta: Yes.

to your television career. Do you struggle with stage fright when broadcasting live?

Brichta: In the beginning, of course, I had stage fright too. But overcoming it comes naturally over time – and that’s because live performances eventually become second nature because you do them so often.

What is your advice for dealing with stage fright?

Brichta: Stage fright only comes about when our own brain plays tricks on us. We think about suddenly being watched by so many people and not being allowed to do anything wrong anymore. My advice to those who cannot benefit from the habituation effect just mentioned: turn your tension into a positive one! Look forward to being able to say or show something to others. And always keep in mind: Mistakes are allowed in front of the camera, too.

Speaking of which, what was the craziest experience you’ve had while watching TV?

Brichta: The craziest thing was also the coolest: I was able to be there for n.tv in the gallery of the New York Stock Exchange when the closing bell rang. That was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And everyone could see at the time that I was in a good mood for the occasion.

How can you prepare for appearances in front of the camera? What tips do you have for confident rhetoric?

Brichta: There are a few: • The most important thing is an authentic appearance. Be yourself!

• If possible, show yourself from your friendly and relaxed side. Make sure you look forward to your performance.

• In order to be as relaxed as possible, take some time for yourself beforehand. “Treat yourself” to something.

• Be appropriately serious on serious issues. But don’t forget to be friendlier and smile when they talk about happy things.

• Bring stories and examples that are easy for anyone to relate to and create images as you listen.

• Formulate them as catchy as possible, in short messages. Make clear and not too long sentences. Avoid technical terms and foreign words.

• Use gestures and facial expressions as is natural for you in situations in which you are at ease, for example when you are among friends and acquaintances.

• Appropriate gestures also help them vary their pitch and speed of speech. This increases the attention of people listening to them. Tired of monotony.

As a stock market reporter, how do you experience the current situation in the economy?

Brichta: The interesting thing about the stock exchange is that all economic trends are always reflected there. They do that now too. That’s why I never get bored. I find it exciting to report on it and to classify the events.

Let’s simplify the world: What are currently the most important terms from the financial world that you should definitely know? Would you please explain them in keywords?

Brichta: I’ll name two: inflation and interest rates.

Inflation is when prices rise significantly across the board for an extended period of time.

Interest is paid as a kind of fee for borrowing money from others.

On the face of it, inflation AND interest rates are going up at the same time this year. At second glance, however, only inflation is rising. Interest rates are even falling if you look at them in real terms, that is, if you subtract the inflation rate from the interest rate. The real interest rate has even slipped significantly into the negative and is below minus five percent.

What scenarios do you think are conceivable for the euro? Will he go down?

Brichta: The euro will not perish when the United States of Europe is created. If, on the other hand, the project of political union fails, which I expect, then the euro will probably fail too. However, the European Central Bank and the EU Commission still have some medicines in the cupboard to prolong the life of the euro.

The fear of inflation is in the minds of many people. What advice do you have for our readers? How can it be prevented that all the savings in the accounts are burned up?

Brichta: The savings on the banks have been burning up for a long time because of the zero and negative interest rates. Now high inflation is compounding this and making things even worse.

Investing in tangible assets, including shares, promises some relief here. Admittedly, one is not immune to losses there either, as this year shows. In the long term, however, equities should offer an inflation offset. And if things go well, there’s even a little return on top of that.

Is it true that you hardly own any shares yourself? If yes, how do you invest your money?

Brichta: It’s only true when it comes to the shares of individual companies, and there are two reasons: First, I want to keep the company as objective as possible. And that’s probably better if I’m not personally invested. Secondly, I use it to prevent possible misunderstandings that could arise as soon as I mention a share publicly and have it in my portfolio at the same time. But, of course, I also invest in equities over the long term, using broad-based funds.

What advice do you have for people who want to buy stocks? How do you recognize the particularly good ones? And when do you absolutely have to sell again?

Brichta: Constant buying and selling is something for more speculative investors. On the other hand, I prefer the long-term investment, where you don’t get nervous about temporary price fluctuations. This works particularly well if you invest in broad-based funds.

For people who also want to invest part of their savings in individual stocks, I recommend stocks that have proven over decades that they bring returns. I call them true values. Even such stocks offer no guarantee for the future. But if a stock’s price has been rising for decades, I rate its chart as a kind of A-grade, like you know it from high school. In school, a year-long straight-A student is more likely to remain a straight-A student than to collapse and become a four-star.

It’s similar with the A students at the stock exchange: They offer a high probability of further top grades, although no guarantee for this. That’s why you shouldn’t rely on just one, but on several. If you are looking for such top candidates, you will find some of them here.

A practical question: Does it make sense to invest money in ETFs?

Brichta: Sure, I do that too. Best as a savings plan with fixed monthly amounts. This is possible from as little as 25 euros.

According to which criteria should one invest in ETFs?

Brichta: It’s best to choose one that invests worldwide – for example one that tracks the MSCI World stock index.

How do you assess the developments on the real estate market? Should you save now and build or buy as soon as possible – or is it better to wait?

Brichta: I clearly favor owner-occupied property for anyone who can afford it. You buy it once and then live in it for as long as you can. The purchase of such a property depends solely on your own living conditions and not on whether real estate is currently expensive or cheap. You buy or build when the time is right. Of course, it is also important here that the financing is secured without having to bend over backwards too much. Dealing with real estate should be left to those who know something about it. In any case, this is not for the general public.