Categories
Deep Posts Trading Tips

Trading Timeframe Assessment

Trading requires time in a couple of ways. The first is the time dedicated to developing a trading system. This can be thought of as a one-off thing, but in reality it is more an on-going process. Once a system is in place, time is required in terms of monitoring the markets for signals, executing transactions, and managing positions. How much time all these different elements require depends on the trading system. The trading system, in turn, needs to take in to account the amount of time the trader has available.

How much time do you have?
With that in mind, the first question to be answered is how much time each day/week/month (whichever is most appropriate) can you dedicate to the various requirements of trading and managing a trading system? Different trading styles require different time focus. As a rule, the shorter-term the trading, the more specifically dedicated time required. A day trader, for example, runs positions which are opened and closed during the same session. This normally means a lot of time spent watching the market for entry and exit signals. An intermediate or longer-term trader who holds trades for weeks or more does not have to dedicate the same amount of time to watching the markets. He or she can usually get away with only spot checking from time to time. Of course there is a whole array of possibilities in between.

Is your time interupted?
At this point it is also important to consider distractions. There is a major difference between having 6 hours per day of uninterrupted time to watch the markets and having 6 hours of time during which you will be making and receiving phone calls, having meetings, and otherwise not being able to focus on the markets and make trades when required. In the former case one could day trade. In the latter, however, day trading would probably be a disaster as the trader would most likely miss important trading situations on a frequent basis. This sort of thing needs to be taken in to account.

Consistency is key
The basic decision one has to make is in what time frame the trader can reasonably expect to operate on a consistent basis. The individual must be able to do all the data gathering, research, market analysis, trade execution and monitoring, portfolio management, and any other functions required of her or his trading system. That means a trading time frame has to be selected which allows the trader to handle all of these duties without the kinds of disruptions which can cause poor system input from the user, and therefore poor system performance.

Categories
Trading Tips

Ten New Trader Pitfalls

So you want to trade, eh? Or have you already started? What drew you to it? Was it the huge profit potential? Maybe it was the excitement. Or perhaps you’re like me and love the challenge of solving a big, multi-dimensional puzzle. Whatever the case, there’s certainly a number of things that make trading the financial markets worthwhile. At the same time, however, there are some huge obstacles along the path to profits and success. In this article I will give you ten ways to avoid trouble in the markets. They will help protect your capital and increase your chances of success. Ready? Let’s jump right in!

#1 Avoid Errors in Order Entry!
The quickest way to lose money in the markets is to make mistakes when you place your orders. Fortunately, this is something very easy to fix. PAY ATTENTION! It’s as simple as that. Every trade entry system you could use has some kind of order confirmation mechanism. Take the extra two seconds and check to make sure everything is correct. I can assure you this will save you money, not to mention a little stress and high blood pressure.

#2 Use Only Risk Capital!
New traders often get so caught up in the excitement and anticipation of trading that they let common sense go on holiday and trade with money they have no business putting at risk. Any money you put in to the markets must be risk capital, money you can afford to lose and not impact your basic financial situation. It’s hard enough to be successful as a fledgling trader. You do not want the added pressure of having to make money and/or not being able to afford losing it.

#3 Start With Enough Capital!
It takes money to make money. You’ve heard that often enough. Accounts that are too small can be a major hindrance to trading success. They suffer from transactions costs that are proportionally higher than is the case for larger accounts, which hinders returns. They also restrict the number of positions you can have at one time, which means you cannot always take good trades that come along and you may not be able to diversify as you should.

#4 Trade Small!
When in doubt, put less money at risk. There is no more swift way to lose huge chunks of money than to trade too big. Your trading size should be determined by your account size based on the risk being taken. If you are risking an amount of your account that potentially puts your long-term ability to keep trading in question, your position is too big. If this means you cannot trade certain instruments, find something else.

#5 Avoid Trading Too Often!
Trading can be fun, exciting, and profitable. It is also an intermittent reward system, like gambling. That means it’s easy to get hooked and in a dangerous cycle. The feeling you have after a winning trade will make you want to do it again. This can lead to sloppy trading. I personally try not not to make any additional trades the same day as I close out a position when trading short-term. That helps me get some time and space to ensure I am making good decisions based on my system, not my emotions. Do whatever you must to ensure you always trade in control.

#6 Have a System!
You will not be a successful trader if you do not have a system. They come in all different shapes and styles, but there are a couple of common elements. A system has both entry and exit determinants. A system can also be described. If you cannot verbalize your system, it’s not a system. If you don’t have rules for both entry and exit, it is not a system.

#7 Take the Time to Learn!
Many, many dollars can be saved by new traders if they take the time to learn and practice. There are so many resources so readily available today that there is no excuse for not entering the markets prepared to do battle. Demo accounts can be found for all major markets. That means you can practice your order execution, and you can paper/demo trade your system to confirm its viability before putting a single dollar at risk. To do otherwise is foolish.

#8 Trade in the Right Time Frame!
You have a life beyond trading. May be you have a job or go to school. You have family and social commitments. All of these things combine to determine the time frame you can use. It does not make sense, for example, to try day trading when you cannot not monitor the markets almost continuously. In my own trading, there are times when I can day trade or swing trade (1-3 day position durations), but there are others when I know I won’t be able to dedicate as much time to the markets and therefore have to take longer-term positions. You must find a trading time frame that fits your lifestyle.

#9 Trade the Right Market(s)!
What often happens with new traders is that they get in to trading because of some experience they had which introduced them to the thrill of the game. That experience probably also got them in to a certain specific market, like stocks or foreign exchange. An emotional attachment is established. Needless to say, this isn’t the best way to pick the market you should be trading. The various markets have different trading profiles. Some are more volatile than others. Some are good for trading intraday, while others are better for longer-term action. The process of deciding to begin trading should include a hard look at what market(s) you should trade based on your account size, trading time frame, personal knowledge and interests, and risk tolerance.

#10 Understand the Risks!
Every market has different risk factors. In fact, each trade has its own distinct risk profile. You need to be aware of what they are. You may have a general awareness that the market may not go the way you thought. That is certainly true, and that is why stop loss orders are advocated. It is how the market can go against you, though, that is important. In the major markets, things like economic releases, earnings reports, and statements by government officials can influence prices. Some cannot be avoided, like a natural disaster, but others can be by simply being aware of the calendar and taking measures to guard against an adverse data release or speech by someone like the Fed Chairman.

As a new trader, you will make mistakes. If you take the advice of this article you can avoid some of the bigger potential pitfalls. That could both save your money in avoidable losses, and potentially lead to more profits.

Categories
Deep Posts Trading Tips

Start Trading: Throw the Excuses Out the Window!

People make all kinds of excuses as to why they cannot get involved in investing or trading the financial markets. In this article, some of the most prominent are debunked.

 “I don’t have time”
Despite being one of the most frequently heard, this is probably the most pathetic excuse for not trading there is. Why? Because the availability of technology and information in the modern day means that we can operate in literally any time frame we want. Many people, when they hear “trading”, think it means sitting in front of the computer all day. While that certainly is one form of trading, most of us do not have the schedule to allow us to dedicate hours each day to monitoring the markets. The good news is that we don’t have to in order to trade effectively.

I will use myself as an example. My college coaching position has me frequently in the gym, in meetings, and on the road. What’s more, I run a club program and a couple of businesses on the side. In 2004, even though there were long periods when I did not trade at all, and I probably only put on a dozen total positions all year, I was still able to make 200%+ in the stock market. If I can trade given my schedule, and have performance like that, anyone can.

“I don’t have the money”
In the past, this was a pretty viable excuse for not trading. These days, though, one can trade with relatively little money. Transaction costs have dropped dramatically over the last decade and there are more trading options than ever before. There is one particular trading platform which allows an individual to put on trades of at little as $1 in value, and they have no minimum account size requirement.

Is it better to have more money? Absolutely. The more capital you have at your disposal, the better are your available options and the more actual money you can make in raw dollar terms.

Having more money is not always a good thing, though. For the inexperienced trader, it is better to have only a little money at risk. Why? It is the same as anything else. Just like anyone new to a skill make mistakes as they are learning, so do new traders. And just as a coach would not willingly throw a new player in to a championship game against experienced opponents, neither should those new to the markets to take on large trades and put significant portions of their assets at risk. It’s common sense. Better to make the inevitable mistakes when there is relatively little at risk.

“It’s too risky”
Trading is only as risky as you make it. If you take risky trades, then trading is risky. If you don’t, then it isn’t. There will always be the risk of losing money on a trade. That is completely unavoidable. But that could be said about all of life.

Driving is one of the most risky things in the modern world, but we still do it. We reduce the risk by obeying traffic rules, planning our route, wearing seatbelts, paying attention, and all that. Does that completely eliminate the risk that of ending up in an accident? No, it doesn’t. Nor does it necessarily keep us out of traffic jams or from getting lost. We understand the risks, though, and weigh them against our need to get places in a timely fashion.

Trading is the same. We do it because it helps get us where we want to go, in this case financially. There are going to be hiccups along the way, but if we are focused and conscientious, we can minimize the risks, and potentially the damage an unfortunately turn inflicts, and remain on course.

“It’s too complicated”
Technology and competition have combined to make trading so much easier than it has ever been before. All it takes is a couple of clicks and you can execute a trade, check your positions, get news, and anything else you need to do. The fact that you are reading this article says you have all the basic skills necessary to trade or invest.

Can trading be complex? Sure it can. There are those in the markets who use complicated software, mathematical algorithms, even artificial intelligence. None of that is necessary, though. Some of the best traders use little more than price quotes or a simple bar chart. How intricate you get is strictly a matter of personal preference, not necessity.

Is there a learning curve? You bet. Trading is like anything else. There are things you need to know. The good thing, though, is that there are loads of resources out there to help you learn.

Categories
News & Updates

Welcome!

Welcome to the new blog for traders and investors of all kinds. Whether you are new to the markets and looking to learn, or an old hand just trying to pick up a few tricks here and there (and maybe share with others), you’ve found the right place. This blog will feature posts and articles about investing and trading, and commentary on the current state of the markets. I hope it will become a worthwhile resource for everyone involved. Comments and questions are both welcome and encouraged.

John Forman
Author – The Essentials of Trading