Would you believe that a 14th century priest, and his concepts, can help make you a better trader? Well, English logician and Franciscan friar William of Ockham really can make you a better trader.
Ockham developed the concept commonly referred to as Occam’s Razor. Simply put, this principle favors the simple over the complex, when there is a choice to be made, or a path to be followed.
How can this apply to trading? A few different ways.
First, if you are a system trader, perhaps your approach has too many rules, too many parameters, or too much optimizing. While every parameter you add might make your system better historically, the more parameters you have, the less prone the system is to work going forward. Simpler concepts and simple rules tend to be based on fundamental market principles – ones that aren’t as likely to change.
Second, if you are a discretionary trader, you might trade off of news reports from CNBC, Bloomberg and multiple other sources. Multiple news sources might give you more data, but does it really give you more knowledge? You might find that with multiple, conflicting pieces of information, you actually can’t trade at all – rather, you are a victim of “analysis paralysis.”
Third, maybe your trading office looks like the control room for the Space Shuttle. If you try to trade off all of the information shown on all the screens, you might just find yourself overwhelmed. It is better to stick to a few monitors of information, and know that information very well. The best traders don’t need a dozen monitors to trade well – usually 1 or 2 monitors is plenty.
Many new traders tend to think that that more complicated they make trading, the easier it will be to “solve” the markets. Instead, they should be listening to William of Ockham, and making things simpler. Simple, done correctly, can lead to more profits, and stand the test of time better than complicated approaches.