Sunday, April 24, 2016

20 truths about trend following

People are often attracted towards adopting a trend following because of its robustness and longevity, together with the returns it can generate.

This is no 'get rich quick' scheme - the basic concept has been proven to work over many decades, in up and down markets, and some of the most successful traders and Market Wizards have used it.

That said, it demands a lot from you. If you are considering adopting a trend following approach, here are some basic truths that you need to understand and accept:
  • If traded properly, you will have lots of small losses, a few small gains, and a few big winners;
  • You will have to accept that your opinion or beliefs about what might or might not happen count for nothing;
  • Often, a new trend will start seemingly for no obvious reason;
  • Trends have a tendency to persist, until they don't;
  • You do not need to understand the fundamentals behind a stock, commodity or other instrument - however, you do need to have a method of determining whether price is trending or not;
  • You never need try to pick a top or a bottom in a market.
  • In strongly trending phases, markets can persistently stay overbought or oversold for several months;
  • Every so often, traders pronounce that trend following is dead. Usually, this occurs just before a major trending phase begins;
  • Being able to effectively follow price trends means you need to have the ability to follow a simple set of rules about when to enter, and when to exit;
  • Because you will suffer lots of small losing trades, you need to have rigorous risk control;
  • You need to accept that individual markets can move from from trending to non-trending phases (or vice versa) at any moment;
  • Every so often, price will move in a particular direction much further than anyone can believe;
  • There are only two theoretical price targets when trend following - infinity when going long, and zero when going short;
  • Once in a profitable trade, there is only one price level you need to concentrate on - your trailing stop. Everything else is noise;
  • Your stop methodology should be able to identify when a trend has finished;
  • Trading with the trend is conceptually very easy to understand, but psychologically very difficult to master;
  • Patience and discipline are key components of a successful trend followers' armoury;
  • Trend following encapsulates the principle of cutting losses short, and letting winners run;
  • Trend following is boring - depending on your chosen timeframe or parameters, you could go through significant periods of time with very few entry signals being given; and
  • Some of the most profitable periods for trend followers are when they do absolutely nothing, other than let existing trades play themselves out.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great list, thanks for sharing Steve! It's all so simple... just a little trickier to execute consistently. Thanks again!