3 Secrets of a Successful Forex Trader
Written by Fred Scala
I’ve been involved in the FX market for over 30 years. Most of the time as trader and risk manager for large US based money center banks. In that time I’ve learned some very valuable tips on what the most important qualities are to be a successful trader. I would like to highlight the three most important traits you need in order to have a long life as a successful trader.
One of the most important lessons I learned was to know who I was and what my trading style was. It took me a while to figure that out. Was I a short term trader? Buying at 25 selling at 26, buying at 30 selling at 31… executing hundreds of trades per day each with a very small profit or loss? Or was I a medium term trader? Someone who would buy at 1.1400 and sell at 1.1600, sell 1.1500 and buy back at 1.1200… executing trades much less often but realizing much bigger gains and losses on each trade? Or was I a long term trader? Someone who would buy in January and sell in June? Some would say this is more of an investor rather than a trader but there are several big moves that occur over the course of time and people do position themselves for that.
A lot of retail traders don’t know who they are and what their style and tolerance should be. They may read an article about long term budget problems in the US and decide to sell the USD, that may be the right trade but their risk tolerance may not be in line. You can’t read a macro article and leave a 30 pip stop loss or stop profit on the trade; if you do you may be right or wrong for all of the wrong reasons. A macro trade may require you to keep the position on for 6 months or more, which would not coincide with many traders loss tolerance.
I’m sure you’ve read this in every trading book you’ve ever picked up. My definition of discipline is to determine your exit strategy before you enter the trade. As soon as you put a position on you should also enter your stop loss and stop profit orders. If you do that you will not be tempted to second guess yourself. I’ve seen too many traders enter a position, watch it move in their favor to their profit objective but never close the trade. The undisciplined will say ‘this can go further; I don’t want to take my profit now’. Once the trade does reverse they will be reluctant to close the trade until it goes back to the highs, that’s when profits turn into losses. I’ve also seen trades move to the stop loss point and the trader will say ‘I’m going to give this another 20 pips before I close it’ then they say it again and again and again. The old saying on the trading desk was ‘your first loss is your best loss’. Yes, sometimes waiting is the prudent decision but if you’ve done your homework and determined an exit strategy for both profits and losses you will be much better off in the long run.
Don’t Get Too High, Don’t Get too Low
I’ve seen many traders over the years convince themselves that they were the best on good days and the worst on bad days. It’s not sustainable to live a trader’s life like that. You have to understand that there will be good days and there will be bad days. The best hitters in Major League Baseball fail 70% of the time. The idea is not to be right; the idea is to make money. The trap that many people fall into is that they increase trading size and risk tolerance when they are on a hot streak, which would be fine as long as they decrease their risk tolerance once that hot streak ends, most people don’t.
If you can follow these simple steps you can enjoy a long and profitable relationship with the markets. If you can’t your relationship will be short lived and you will miss a great opportunity.
Please contact me to discuss trading and starting your own FX Brokerage Business.