Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ingraining good habits as early as possible

When a new trader comes to me for advice, quite often they have suffered initial losses from their trading activities (sometimes heavy ones) and have not really had a focused overall trading plan set out, or if they have, they've not followed it.

Even if you start trading with limited capital, it is important that you start ingraining good habits as early as you can. Principal among these is ensuring that you do not trade too large positions relative to your overall equity.

Some of the people I have given training and/or mentoring to have trading accounts as little as £2,000, but I have tried to ensure that they apply rigorous risk control to their trading activities. Instead of risking £200 or more on each position, by risking no more than 2% of their equity, they should risk no more than £40, thereby cutting their position size by 80%.

Depending on your chosen method of trading, transaction costs can also eat into a small account, and the trading vehicle you choose to use should be carefully considered.

However, it is a well known maxim that the vast majority of new traders blow up their accounts within 6 months. This is not necessarily as a result of their method of choosing their entries and exits (although that undoubtedly helps) but more as a result of risking way too much on each trade, or in extreme cases having a complete disregard for risk.

Trading is a marathon not a sprint, and to stay in the game you need to exhibit strong risk control right from the off. The sooner you can ingrain that in your method and your mind, the better. Even the best did not necessarily get a grip on risk control early in their careers - in Market Wizards Paul Tudor Jones talks about losing 70% of his equity on a single trade relatively early in his career. It was only after that experience did he go away and implement rigorous risk control.

From having risk under control, unemotional trading decisions can be taken, improving your mindset and allowing you to follow your system with no risk of self-sabotage. Allied to a proven method for selecting entry and exit points, you will be well on the journey to trading success.

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