LSU star Lewis Neal: First-round talent, rising investor

Lewis Neal is one of the most talented defensive players in the nation. A projected first-round pick, the 21-year-old defensive end is entering his senior season at LSU looking to reach the College Football Playoff with a very talented Tigers team.

Neal’s accolades on the field are well-known, but it is his off-field ventures that make Neal one of the most interesting young athletes in the world of sports.

While Neal is focusing on improving his skills on the field and putting in the hard work in the classroom striving to earn a degree in Sports Management, he is also blossoming into a successful trader on the Foreign Exchange market. Yes, one of the top defenders in the SEC is also a successful day-trader on the world’s largest financial market, at times bringing in four to five figures a week. 

For those who don’t know the difference between the Foreign Exchange market and the more familiar New York Stock Exchange, Forex is the largest market with an average turnover of $4 trillion per day, while the NYSE has an average daily turnover of $50 million.

“Foreign exchange is the largest financial market in the world. China, Australia, a lot of these other countries trade on this market,” Neal noted. “It’s not hard. It’s literally the best market ever. People aren’t used to very nice returns on the market. People who own big firms and work in banks, they know about foreign exchange but they don’t want to tell anyone about it much because they know the power of it. Banks are trading in this market, so basically when I am trading, I’m trading with the banks; like some of the largest hedge funds and banks in the world, I’m trading with them. I’m making money how the banks make money. Basically, I can have an account with a broker and making way more money off of interest than a bank would give me.

Neal first got into investing during his senior year of high school, before he even received an offer from Louisiana State.

It was early in life that the Wilson, North Carolina native knew he was interested in finding a way to use his strong business mind to help himself and his family.

“I’ve always been a business-minded person. I’ve always wanted to take care of my family and just be straight and be in control of my earnings and my living. That’s the reason I started looking into investing,” Neal told Campus Sports. “Being young, I wanted to learn how to make a lot of money on my own so I didn’t have to worry about anyone determining how much I make. That’s when I started looking into finding a way to make extra income, because everyone has that dream.

“I’ve always had that mindset as an entrepreneur and I feel that should be taught more. It’s a great thing to have. There are so many people that have great ideas but never go through since they don’t know how to. I feel like that is very important.”

Football has always been Neal’s love, but as he continued to delve into the world of trading, he quickly realized he was a natural. A beast on the gridiron, Lewis Neal was also becoming a bright, young investing mind while still excelling in the nation’s toughest football conference.

“I just got into investing because it was a way to help me out and show me a different view on life. And with football, you’ve always got to have a stream of income, because you need a long-term income if you want to live how you want to live. Investing is just one way, you know,” he added. “There are so many other ways that I’ve got in the works right now, so this is just the beginning.”

But how does a student-athlete at an SEC school balance the world of football and trade?

It wasn’t always easy for Neal, but as he continued to get more serious about the investing world he found a way to make things work. It all started at the end of his junior year, when the light switched on and Neal realized he could make a real living on the Forex market.

“I really got serious at the end of my sophomore year; I really didn’t take it serious at the beginning. But, I realized this was a way. Once I took it serious, it helped me out a lot and changed my life going into my junior year of college. It’s when I really realized this can make a lot of things happen,” Neal said.

“And I’m surrounded by the right people as well. I’m in a trading community where I know a lot of great traders, like people who could literally work on Wall Street but they’re not because they want to make money on their own. They’re people I’m connected with who have made a lot on the market and they’re valuable, helping me as well.”

Once Neal gave trading serious attention, he immediately began reaping the benefits.

“Oh, [I saw returns] right away. I already knew how to do it, I just never took the time to actually take it full on. There are certain times of the day that you have to trade because of the market. I know when the most volatile times of the day are, so once I got a disciplined schedule I put it all together with school, football, trading and everything,” Neal noted.

The ability to balance the grueling schedule of a student-athlete while being a successful trader on the Foreign Exchange market is something that doesn’t come around often. It takes time to find that balance, but once you do, as Neal found out, it becomes second nature.

“Now everything is rolling. I used to struggle with it at the beginning, but I just needed to make it a habit. Just like on the field, when you make good technique a habit you do it all the time. Once it becomes a habit, you’re just flowing,” he said. 

“Once I was consistent with my schedule, it just became second nature. This was my schedule for the day: I trade, go to class and go to practice then repeat it.”

The dedication to his true love of football and his blossoming relationship with trading has allowed Neal to find impressive success in the world’s largest financial market, even earning returns as high as $6,000 in a single day.

Perhaps one of the most interesting ties in the world of football and trading is the mental strength you need to handle the challenges. In both fields there will be ups-and-downs, so the key to success is controlling your emotions on and off the field.

“You have to control your emotions, because it’s money. When you’re moving your money and there is a risk, you have to stay in control. That’s how you make money, because you’re not scared. You have to understand that it takes money to make money, but you have to control your emotions in the process,” Neal said. “You have to be a disciplined person and when you are, it works in your favor. It takes skill, but it also takes great psychology. You will find out more about yourself than you’ll find out about trading.

“It absolutely helps on the field. I know how to stay calm in certain situations and also how to stay disciplined in certain situations without trying to do too much or too little. It does help that I know how to control my mind.”

While your average person will not be able to find the success on the football field that Neal has had to this point, he believes trading is something that everyone would benefit from.

I feel like it’s a skill everyone should know because literally you can open up your laptop and make some money. All you need is WiFi and a great mentor, because the knowledge is not going to be found,” he said. “It takes time and not everyone is going to find the right knowledge just anywhere, so you have to be surrounded by the right people so you can eventually do it yourself.”

At the end of the day, Neal has all of the talent to make it to the next level as a football player. He enters his final year at LSU as one of the top pass rushers and as a projected first-rounder in next year’s draft. However, it is his savvy investor skills and his unrivaled knowledge of the Forex market that will set him up for success long after his playing days are over.

We could all learn from a bright young man like Lewis Neal.

He’s a standout in the classroom, a standout on the football field, and one of the brightest minds coming up in the investing world. And while his goal is to make it in the NFL, he also hopes that his knowledge will be able to help others in the future.

“People will understand these kind of markets sooner or later,” Neal said.

“Once that happens, it’ll change the way people want to live. That’s one of the other things I want to do. I want people see there’s a new way to invest and once they get into it, learn it and master it, they’ll be shocked cause they’ll realize what they’re doing you cannot find anywhere else. In the foreign exchange, you control how much you want to gain and how much you want to risk. If the dollar crashes, guess what: that’s bad for the stock market but good for the foreign exchange, because we can trade in both directions and make money either way.

“That’s the luxury of this market. It can be a $5.5 + trillion daily market, so there’s plenty of money for everyone.”

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*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports