Avoiding Trading Mistakes

In Jack Schwager’s New Market Wizards, William Eckhardt said that one mistake traders make is putting too much importance on any single trade. His suggestion was to remember that any one trade is just a small part of the bigger picture and needs to be treated dispassionately. When the individual trade becomes too important, we tend to do things to make the trade work, for example we take profits too quickly or we let losses go in hopes of a return to profitability.

False Beliefs About Trading the Markets

1) What goes up must come down and vice versa.

That’s Newton’s law, not the law of trading. And even if the market does eventully self-correct, you have no idea when it will happen. In short, there’s no point blowing up your account fighthing the tape.

2) You have to be smart to make money.

No, what you have to be is disciplined. If you want to be smart, write a book or teach at a university. If you want to make money, listen to what the market is telling you and trade to make money — not to be “right.”

3) Making money is hard.

Nope. Sorry. Making money is actually easy. Statistically, you’re going to do it about half the time. Keeping it, now that’s the hard part.

4) I have to have a high winning percentage to be profitable.

Not true. How often you are right on a trade is only half of the equation. The other half is how much do you make when you’re right and how much you lose when you’re wrong. You can remember that with this formula:

Probability (odds of it going up or down) x Magnitude (how much it goes up or down) = Profitability

5) To be successful, I have to trade without emotions.

That is both wrong and impossible. You are human so you have emotions. Emotions can be a powerful motivator to your trading.

When you feel angry or scared in trading, take that emotion and translate it into something more productive. For example, if you’re feeling angry because you just got run over by the market, view that anger as a reason to be more focused and disciplined in your entry and exit levels on the next trade.

Undertrade, undertrade, undertrade – Bruce Kovner

The lesson here is straightforward. Trade less frequently and trade smaller than you think you should.

Of these two, trading smaller size is easier to grasp and much more intuitive. If you are risking less, then your P&L won’t swing as wildly, allowing you to stay more level-headed and to make better decisions without getting scared or euphoric. You also are unlikely to lose as much during a bad run, allowing you to sidestep potential catastrophic losses and to stay in the game, both financial and psychologically. Ultimately, it’s steep drawdowns that end careers. If you can avoid big declines In your equity and be in the right place psychologically to bounce back, then you will have a long and successful career.

But trading less frequently is equally important. By making it a priority to trade less frequently, you are making sure that you think harder and deliberate before entering and exiting a position. This allows you to focus on executing your methodology, rather just impulsively leaping into and out of positions. That should boost the quality of each trade and in turn, your overall success.

You are also making sure that you are picking your spots, thereby boosting the percentage of your trades that are winners. Even a small increase in your win rate, e.g. from 40% to 43%, would mean a measurable improvement in profitability. Having more winners, and having those extra winners generate bigger gains on average than the losers, can mean the difference between a so-so year and a great year.

A Trader’s 5 Best Teachers

Trading Losses: There are two types of losses, one loss is caused by the market simply not being conducive for the profitability of your system. The other loss is due to your lack of discipline causing your system not to work. If you followed your trading plan and had a loss that is to be expected. If you are trading a proven and tested method then you have simply learned that taking a loss is simply part of trading. However if your breach of discipline caused your loss, whether not taking a stop, over riding your plan, not taking an entry, trading too big, etc. then it is time to learn why you had the loss. Ego? Fear? Greed? Overconfidence? Laziness? and many other things cause losses. It is crucial that you learn why you broke your trading plan so you do not repeat the mistake again.

Charts: Studying the past price action of charts is very educational. It will show you how prices have reacted at  support/resistance levels in the past along with moving averages and any other indicators that you may choose. It is important that you understand how your market has historically traded whether it is currencies, commodities, stocks, or bonds. It is crucial that you learn how to identify a trend, a swing trade, and a range bound market. (more…)

10 Keys to become Consistent Trader and increase your Profitability

  1. Think of trading as a business and have a trading plan.
  2. Make sure that the strategies you select, match your personality so you can follow them.
  3. Have a realistic expectation of what your returns are. Include all the costs associated with your trading business.
  4. Have an idea for your risk/reward ratio. Don’t confuse trading with gambling. If you are increasing your position, make sure that your strategy warrants it.
  5. Have trading rules and follow them. Think about them as contingency plans. Because when your emotions are very high, the tendency is that you make very poor decisions that can cost you your account!
  6. Be flexible to the market conditions. When you see the market as it is, you have a much better chance of managing your portfolio and increasing your profits.
  7. Take responsibility for your results. Taking responsibility does not mean that you have control of everything that happens. It means that you have a choice of how to react to the things that happen.
  8. Find out why you are in the trading business. If it is for the excitement of it, find other hobbies or activities that you can get your excitement from.
  9. Keep track of your performance. This is a way of objectively looking at how you are doing, what you did right and what you learned. Be gentle with yourself.
  10. One of the most important things that people don’t handle is their Emotional Risk. When emotions run high, the quality of decisions goes down. It is very important to learn how to react to your emotions and thus increase your profits.

Cut Losses Short

Cut losses short is the sister rule to the let profit run, and is usually just as difficult to implement. In the same way that profitability comes from a few large winning trades, capital preservation comes from avoiding the few large losers that the market will toss your way each year. Setting a maximum loss point before you enter the trade so you know before-hand approximately how much you are risking on this particular position is relatively straightforward. You simply need to have a exit price that says to you this trade is a loser and I will exit before it gets any bigger. Due to gaps at the open, or limit moves in futures we can never be 100%
certain that we can get out with our maximum loss, but simply having the rules, and always sticking to it will save us from the nasty trades that just keep on going and going against our position until we have lost more than many winning trades can make back.

If you have a losing position that is at you maximum loss point, just get out. Do not hope that it will turn around. Given that trades are either winners or losers, and this one is shouting Loser at you, the chances that it will turn around and become a large winner is tiny. Why risk any more money on this losing trade, when you could simply close it out (accept the loss) and move on. This will leave you in a much better place financially and mentally, than holding the position and hoping it will go back your way. Even if it did do this, the mental energy and negative feelings from holding the losing position are not worth it. Always stick to your rules and exit a position if it hits your stop point.

Profitability -Market Timing

How often you are right on a trade is only half of the equation. The other half is how much do you make when you’re right and how much you lose when you’re wrong. You can remember that with this formula: Probability (odds of it going up or down) x Magnitude (how much it goes up or down) = Profitability.

“Market timing is the art of making investment decisions using indicators and strategies to observe and determine the direction of prices. Many believe that market timing involves predicting the future, when in reality, the goal of market timing is to participate in periods of price strength and avoid periods of price weakness.? 

What should you look for in a trading system?

1. Profitability: This is a must when we look for a system .Lowering the risk factor and increasing the reward is simply the answer to a profitable system

2. Probability: One of the important elements of a trading system, but it does not always mean it will be a profitable trading system, if the proper money management is not in use.
3. Consistency: Without consistency we will not be able to breath in the on going changing market condition. A consistently profitable system will pick up some drawdown as soon as the extreme condition is over.

4.Flexibility: Providing Simple, Easy and Powerful System which can be used in any time frame and on any financial instrument.

11 Steps for Successful Trading


  1. You must have a Mission Statement.  What’s your real motivation behind your trading?
  2. You must spell out your trading/investing Goals and Objectives.  You cannot get from A to Bvery easily unless you truly know where B is.
  3.  You must spell out your Trading/Investing Beliefs and Market Beliefs.  Please remember this very important statement, “You cannot trade the market.  You can only trade your beliefs about the market.”  Therefore, it’s a very good idea to identify your beliefs about the market first. 
  4.  Spell out your exact Trading Strategies.  How do you go about analyzing the market and what are the key things you look at in your market analysis?  What trade set-ups do you use before entry? What are your timing signals for market entry?  What is your catastrophe stop loss?  Where and when will you take profits?  Will you use a trailing stop?  Will you scale into the market?  What exactly is your trade management system once you’re into the trade?    
  5.  What are your Position Sizing Strategies?  This is part of money management and is very important in reaching your trading goals and objectives in terms of profitability. 
  6. What are your typical Psychological Problems in following your trading plan?  What is your plan for psychological management for dealing with these problems?
  7. What are your Daily Trading Procedures?  What should you be doing on a daily basis, not only to become organized, but to become methodical in everything you do as a trader, on a day-to-day basis.
  8. Do you have an Education Plan to Help Improve Yourself on a continuing basis?  If not, you should have one.  Like anything else in life, you need to be continually working on yourself to become better and better.
  9. What is your Disaster Plan?  What can go wrong, and how will you deal with each item?
  10. What is your Planned Income and Budget for Trading Expenses?  This is pretty simple and straightforward; write down everything you can think of and try to be as realistic as possible.
  11.  How do you Prevent Trading Mistakes and Avoid Repeating Them… if they occur?  Really sit back and think about this and write down any and all mistakes that you might make during your trading.  Once you do that, come up with a solution to each potential mistake that you might make so you don’t allow that to happen.

Quantitative Strategies for Achieving Alpha by Richard Tortoriello -Book Review

In this book Richard Tortoriello sets out find empirical drivers for stock market returns. This is a new book published last month. The author tests 1200 strategies on stock above 500 million valuation to determine the major fundamental and market based drivers for future stock market returns.After such analysis he presents strategies that consistently outperform the market.

The author tests 7 basic categories of stocks factors:
  1. Profitability
  2. Valuation
  3. Cash flow
  4. Growth
  5. Capital allocation
  6. Price momentum
  7. Red Flags ( risk factors)
Detailed quantitative tests  for each of the factors are presented in the book. As the author works for S&P, he has access to the best database on stocks and he presents his findings for multiple factors within each of the above seven categories. The testing shows that the top single factor strategy for achieving excess return is price momentum calculated using 28/16 relative strength. The best strategy using two combined factor for excess return is price momentum plus nearness 52 week high. 
This book unlike other quant books is easy to understand and well presented. The biggest advantage of this book is it will give you building blocks to build your trading strategy around things that empirically work in the market. Knowing what works and why it works can help you build better trading models.
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