Saturday, June 23, 2012

Yes, it is really does take only a few minutes a day

Edit: This post has been updated to reflect the use of the new watchlist scans, which identify potential set ups before they trigger. The old scans required you to watch the scans as they updated in real-time, otherwise you may miss an entry signal.

People that I give training to, who are new to trend following, are constantly surprised with the statement that I can spend less than 10 minutes a day trading the markets. The routine is very simple:
  • By configuring my scans the way I want them, I can simply click a button and these give me an immediate list of potential stock candidates that meet the criteria programmed into the scan code;
  • From there I go down the list generated, looking at the chart of each stock;
  • Years of experience looking at the set ups that I know work means that I can tell within 5 seconds if a stock is of interest to me;
  • If it is, one click of a button and its added to a watchlist - if it's not, I move on to the next one on the list. 
Once I've gone through all the scans (which cover longs and shorts, in different countries) I go to my trading platform, key in those stocks and look to see what the bid/ask spread is like, together with any restrictions on trading that stock. If the stock satisfies my criteria, I will either place an order at the market if it reaches my trigger price, or place an order to open at the desired level (as well as my initial stop) there and then. Job done.

As for my existing positions, I simply observe the charts and see if my stops need updating (they are only ever moved towards current price). Again, this takes a couple of minutes.

Then, in theory I could switch the trading platform off, and close the charts. With the watchlist scans you can go through these in the evenings, after themarkets have closed, and update your lists ahead of the next trading session. The scans update in real time, so you can do this as many times you want, but that is my preference.

Once the trainees in the mentoring programme who I meet have watched me go through the above, see what I look for, and how the charts and scans (as well as the system rules themselves) eliminate the need for a lot of  'interpretation', they begin to understand how I can spend so little time actually 'trading'. Over time, people can learn how to do the same - if I can do it, then so can anybody else.

If you have read Market Wizards, you will see a similar routine in Ed Seykota's interview (conducted over 20 years ago). He simply gets his end of day data, and places his orders ready for the next day. And then switches his PC off. Bill Dunn, profiled in Trend Following, has something similar, a single PC sounds an alarm when a signal is given - that's the only time his operation goes into the market. If you read the story of the Turtles, they spent most of the day reading the paper or playing table tennis.

For those who want to participate in the markets, and who may have other commitments or full-time employment, this sort of apporach is ideal. If however sitting in front of a PC for hours staring at charts, and wanting 'action' is your idea of trading, then trend following is not for you.

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