Practice, Practice, Practice

Let’s be brutally honest, there is no easy way to react to trading losses. If you are expecting me to give you a magic formula, then I am really sorry, as I don’t have one. Going trough losses is not easy because, for many, these are your hard earned money and of course it will be painful. However, every time you feel the pain from losing, you have gained new perspective to how “pain” feels like. From personal experience, I can honestly say this – it only gets easier because you start to know how your emotions will react and to a certain extend, you get immune to it.

Some would think that getting immune to losing is not a good thing. Agree, but you’re missing the point. When you are immune to losing, it is because you understand yourself better and you are better at managing your expectations and emotions. More importantly, when you are immune, you are emotionless and you can focus more on making rational decisions.  And that is the ultimate goal of staying positive.

A story of how honesty cost one trader his job.

With the current climate surrounding the investment banking culture in the wake of the Barclay’s Libor scandal, it is interesting to read about the story of Steve Clark taken from his interview with Jack Schwager in the Hedge Fund Market wizards
Clark is a highly successful hedge fund manager, running the Omni Global fund which during the period since inception in 2001 has returned almost 20% per annum, with a maximum peak to trough drawdown of just 7% and not a single losing year. However during the 90s he tells a story of how he was forced out of a major investment bank purely for being honest. 
The excerpt from the interview goes as follows:
‘Nomura ended badly for me because there was a change in management. The new guy in charge wasn’t straight. He had a convertible book, and all he was doing was buying illiquid convertible bonds and every month pushing the price up. He was the market because he owned most of these issues. So all he had to do was buy a few hundred bonds every month to push the price up. (more…)

The trading curve.

I really like this visual because if you turn your head enough it looks like a face hitting the wall. Not sure if that was intentional but that is how I would best describe what trading is like when you are new and/or struggling.

There are subtle but important difference. Yes there are no clients or employees but that means that you have to rely on your own feedback mechanisms. Money is not as effective as one would think.

Initiation- Every trader comes in thinking they will make money, in fact if they have never traded, they probably have convinced themselves fully. They spend time looking for all the answers in charts but it is in the process. It seems like easy money. It is not easy but it is probably the best way to make money. The best of anything takes more work.

Wearing off of novelty– This is a critical time for any trader. This is where the hole gets deeper or ideally the trader stops and starts to work more efficient. Process and not charts. This is the motivation to understand what trading really is and who they really are.

Trough of sorrow- This is also a critical point. Now you have done some work but it has not paid off yet. Do you keep working? Do you get some help? Can you continue to improve?

Crash of ineptitude- You are starting to gain some experience and confidence. But you have a bad day and lose too much. Back to the drawing table.

Wiggles of false hope- This is where you understand what not to do so you are floating along again. The problem is you are only starting to understand what to do. You have corrected the big mistakes and now start down the path of correcting the small ones.

The promise land- Now you understand what not to do and what to do. Now it is up to you to actually do it. You are in the best position of your trading career.

Acquisition of liquidity- Now you are a self sustaining trader. You have the ability to make x amount of dollars to survive. This is what you have to lean on now. This is when trading begins to get real. You are methodically improving.

Upside of buyer- Not only do you understand what not to do and what to do, you always do it. Now the sky is the limit. You control your destiny.

The difference between trading and a start up is you are not looking to be acquired. You have to do this day in and day out, make a career. This does not stop but the process and progressions become second nature and you are seeing positive results. This is not the time to relax but the time to put the foot on the gas pedal. This is true about all of the stages except the first one.

Trading is also different in that any day you can put yourself back into one of the stages. That is why it is important to never forget that the purpose is to make money. As you gain experience you will spend less time in the early stages. The early stages will start to feel like touching a hot stove. You will recognized the situations more quickly and have the strength to make a change immediately.

How full is your cup?

I stumbled across an interesting article recently, about ‘Market Timing’.  We can all relate to spending hours on trying to pick the trough or top of a market cycle, or congratulate ourselves on getting in at the bottom and riding a sp to its peak.

This article goes on to explain that Market Timing is perhaps not that important, it all comes down to the individual’s mind-set around wealth. 

“You have probably seen this phenomenon: there are successful investors that can make money regardless of the market conditions. They make good money during good times, and they make even better money during bad times.

To these successful investors, there is one thing that is constant: they make money regardless of changes in the market. Market Timing seems to have very little effect on them.

You have probably also seen the opposite phenomenon: there are investors that would lose money even when the market was doing great. These investors lose money during good times, and lose even more money during bad times.

To these unsuccessful investors, there is one thing that is constant: they lose money regardless of changes in the market. Market Timing also seems to have very little effect on them. “

Hmm, now there’s something to think about.  Imagine having the good fortune to enter the market at ANY time and still make money. 

The author goes on to get you to think of money as water and it seems that some people have a fixed sized cup to hold money – whenever they get near the cups maximum threshold one of life’s challenges comes along to ensure their cup never overflows.

So what we NEED to do, is to consciously make an effort to increase the size of our cup (the invisible mental capacity for wealth), and then we won’t really need to worry about Market Timing at all!

Sounds like a plan to me – I’ll order a beer stein.

Jingle Bells – The Fiscal Cliff Remix

By DJ Matt King from Citigroup
Jingle bells (fiscal cliff remix)
Dancing on the edge
Of the looming fiscal cliff
Impossible to hedge
The politicians’ tiff.
It’s spending cuts we need
To cut the deficit
But taxes too must rise
That much is definite!
Fiscal cliff, fiscal cliff
Drama all the way!
Surely sense will soon prevail
And help them meet halfway? Hey!
Fiscal cliff, fiscal cliff
Washington at play
With Congress so polarized
Who knows which way they’ll sway? (more…)

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