Saturday, April 18, 2015

Trend following differences

I was asked the question last night about how I differ from other trend following traders.

The basic principles I (and many other trend followers) follow have been used by many successful traders going back decades - people like Ed Seykota, Jesse Livermore, Richard Dennis and the Turtle traders, as well as Richard Donchian, plus others. All have influenced my own approach to trend following.

Each had their own method of identifying when to get in and out of positions, their approach to risk, their chosen markets, their trade selection process etc.

What each trader does over time is evolve and refine their own approach, while keeping the same core concepts and beliefs as other trend followers. The differences come in how they implement those beliefs, along with the specifics of the parameters used.

A lot of trend followers are systematic in what they do - to the extent that they create computer programs which automate their trading. Others may follow a set of rules, but there is an element of discretion involved.

I'm more in this 'rules-based discretionary' camp. This is partly due to the fact I trade equities, rather than a small basket of commodities, interest rate futures and the like. The market I operate in demands that you consider other factors. For example, as my own approach is relatively short-term, I have additional rules relating to earnings reports - such as when I can (or can't) open new positions. You also need to consider your attitude to holding positions open through earnings, due to the potential for price gaps, which could go for you or against you. If I was trading a longer-term trend following approach, then I may well have no need for those specific rules.

So, while there are elements of discretion in my approach, what this basic framework does is allow me to be extremely systematic in what I do once a trade has been initiated.

For more on the difference between systematic or discretionary trend following, read this post, which may be thought provoking.


  1. What are your rules to earnings report/play?

  2. In basic terms, I avoid taking one positions where earnings are expected within 10 days or so of the entry being triggered - this is all part of my attempt to control risk.

    With existing positions, traders have some options available to them - do they keep the trade open, do they fully close the trade, or possibly take some of the profits off the table and let the balance run? The answer to that will depend on each traders' attitude to risk. All I would say that is, once you have determined what your approach is to be, then you should be consistent.