The question of whether someone really should not be a trader is one that’s not often brought up in discussions between market participants. It’s almost as if the baseline assumption is that the sole criteria is that you want to trade. While I’m a believer in the view that just about anyone can learn, there are limits to that. Ignoring the obviously physical and mental disabilities, here are the ones I think are most important.
Lack of Impulse Control
If you cannot keep yourself from acting on impulse – meaning making snap decisions without a plan – then you’re likely not going to do well in trading. Successful trading means applying a consistent edge. That, in turn, requires a plan that is being followed, not making random trades when the mood hits.
There is probably some confusion here when the subject of gut instinct comes into play. Here’s the deal, though. If you’ve only just started trading, you have no gut instict. That comes from long experience. If you’re a rookie making gut trades, for your own good you should stop now. Any success you’ve had to this point is almost certainly a function of luck, not skill.
A Troubled Emotional State
We all go through periods when we’re in a mixed up emotional state. It could be relationship issues, family difficulties, the death of a loved one, stress at work, or any number of other things that put you off your game. These are not good times to trade. Granted, trading can be an escape from the emotional strains in some cases, but that’s only if the trader can consistently execute their normal work and strategy without it being impacted by what’s going on in the rest of their life.
Trading has a way of really exposing emotional problems, even among the most stable of individuals. If you’ve already got some mental strains going on, trading is likely to either make it worse, or to see you feed on that emtion in destructive ways – like trading angry. It is best to stay clear of the markets when these sorts of things happen if there’s any chance of spill-over or distraction.
Looking for a Quick Buck
Trading is not a get rich quick program. Any systems or broker ads that lead you believe otherwise are being deceptive. As any trader who’s been around more than a year will tell you, trading is a marathon, not a sprint. If you come into the market looking to make a fast killing you are almost certainly going to blow your trading account up because you’ll end up taking much too much risk. Basically, you’ll be a gambler rather than a trader.
I could probably toss in “those who think trading is going to be easy”, but that might rule out almost every new trader.
That all said, though, the things I’ve noted above can all be viewed as changable. Lives can calm down. People can learn to follow a plan rather than just do whatever occurs to them at a given time. The gambling impulse can be replaced by a more long-run view. That means there’s hope for just about everyone, so long as they do right by their expectations.