Sunday, February 13, 2011

The ideal state

I like my trading to be simple, both in terms of its methodology and system rules, as well as execution. This suits my personaility. Getting to that state however can be a long and difficult path.

A lot of people would tell you that trading is hard work - that depends on many factors, including (in no particular order) whether you are technically or fundamentally based , it is a discretionary or systematic method, your timeframe, the markets you trade, and so on.

Even if you trade a 'system' with specific rules for entries and exits, money management etc, these are ultimately discretionary decisions. You will also find, if you start delving into various systems, that switching timeframes or the markets traded can have a significant effect on performance. A system may give one signal on a daily timeframe, and a completely different one on a weekly or hourly timeframe.

Markets can and do change their personality. Therefore once you have determined a timeframe on which to concentrate, you also need to ensure that your method is 'hardy'. This means that it will be able to cope with any extremes in volatlility, and whether the market is in a trending or non-trending state. Alternatively, your system needs to have explicit rules of when NOT to play, especially when the market conditions are not condusive to generating profits.

It is essential that you determine your preferences for all these factors before you plunge into the markets. Then, once you have made these decisions, you need to stick to them, come rain or shine. Knowledge of historical performance and draw downs, as well as your overall system expectancy will help in this, as you will have to confidence to either ride out these adverse periods, or step aside until conditions are more to your system's liking.

All of these ideas should form the building blocks that underpin your method - they are 'under the hood'. Preparation before stepping into the trading arena is crucial. However, once you have passed this point, the actual execution of trades (both entries and exits) should ideally be very straightforward, and should only take a matter of seconds before deciding whether to take a position or not.

I my own case, all the 'thinking time' has been put in determining the system rules that I abide to, along with the money mangement parameters that can prove the difference in whether a system is profitable or not. I have also taken this further in that I have scans set up that generate a list of potential trades that fulfill the hard rules of my system. These scans update in real time potentially giving me lots of opportunities to trade every day. From there I can scan through the selected stocks and see which are the most visually appealing to me, as well as checking the volatility charactersitics of the stock(s) in question. Past experience means that again, this only takes a few seconds on each potential candidate. It has become second nature. This becomes even more critical the shorter the timeframe you operate in.

So, you can see that it is possible to generate significant profits spending only a few minutes a day -provided you put in the hard work in before hand.

If anyone would like to discuss this further, or wants some more specific advice on how to develop your own strategy, please drop me a line, and I'll do my best to help.

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