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Why Goldman Sachs Thinks a Stock Market Crash Might Be Coming Soon

Source: CNBC

“Financial market reconciliation lies ahead…”We are approaching the point of maximum optimism and the S&P 500 will give back recent gains…” – Mr. David Kostin, Goldman’s chief U.S. Equity Strategist

While the S&P 500 continues to break new highs, prominent economics and C-level staff in multinational banks are coming out to say it’s time it has to stop.

 

U.S Equities are at Extreme Highs

As the old adage goes, “what comes up, must come down”. However, this adage has a valid explanation in the world of stock trading. Prices that go up must come down eventually because at some point there will not be any more buyers in the market, buyers would look to take profits and sell, new sellers would short the market.

 

Markets move in swings; they often don’t go straight up.

As you can see above, classical technical analysis theory teaches that every uptrend swing must be accompanied with a correction downwards. Even though the price can go in one direction for “far too long”, there will always be a correction.

Riding the bull market 😄

A post shared by Spencer Li 🇸🇬 Synapse Trading (@iamrecneps) on

 

A Correction is Due, BUT…

Before I go on, let me state 2 very basic facts about market euphoria:

Fact 1: Euphoria in the Market Happens Often

In the forex markets, this happens very often. In fact, these are known as gentle trending markets and the easiest way to trade these markets is to buy, add on at every opportunity, and watch your profits grow.

If you zoom in to the 5-minute charts, 1-hour charts, or move to different financial products like Forex, Commodities or Bonds, you would notice that market euphoria is quite a frequent occurrence.

Euphoria in that sense, can happen in both directions, as seen in the diagram below (Hourly chart for EURUSD)

Euphoria can happen in both directions, and for very long. In this case,
there were many opportunities to short, and the trend lasted far longer than one would expect.

Here is another recent example of riding trends:

Trends can last far longer than one expects. That’s why it’s important to know this fact:

Fact 2: Markets Don’t Reverse Immediately!

It’s easy to jump on the hype when almost every news outlet is talking about it. But the truth is this; what’s important is on the chart. Price already gives you the decision-making tools you need!

Even though Goldman Sachs says that a correction is due, that does not mean you immediately go ahead and go all-in to short the market. Even if you are fully convinced that the market is going to crash, it is best to wait for actual price confirmation before taking any action.

Daily chart of the S&P 500, with a small pre-emptive short position which I have initiated.

In trading, it’s all about probabilities. The above technical levels show how far the market might go, but what actually happens will depend on price action. And since the reward to risk is pretty decent based on this price channel, I am winning to take a small short position, and add on more later if it goes in my favour. This will ensure that I have a decent profit from shorting near the top when the market does crash. Till then, fingers crossed!

Here’s some food for thought before we conclude this article:

“Bull markets are born on pessimism, grow on skepticism, mature on optimism and die on euphoria.” -Sir John Templeton

Cheers and have a great week ahead! 😀

P.S. For those who want to start learning about how to make money from the financial markets, don’t miss our last 2 workshops for this quarter at the special price of $25.
Check workshop availability: http://wp.me/P1riws-6gw

Research Sources:

cnbc.com/2017/02/21/goldman-sachs-market-investors-have-a-letdown-coming.html
thefelderreport.com/2016/05/23/this-might-be-the-most-extreme-stock-market-euphoria-we-have-ever-seen/

3 Dangerous Myths About Trading that Could be Affecting Your Profitability

The world of finance and investing is filled with opinions, news, jargon, and sometimes pure nonsense. It is only the people who actually make trades, who will be able to tell the truth from the lies.

After all, an opinion has no consequence. People can quip about what they think is true, if there is no money on the table. However, when you’re trading with your own money, you’re forced to confront the reality of things. I, for one, am no stranger to taking risks, but I only take calculated risks with a high payoff. That is what trading is all about.

Without further ado, here are 3 dangerous myths that could be wrecking havoc on your trading account:

 

MYTH #1: TRADING WITH LEVERAGE INCREASES YOUR RISK
(Reality: Trading with leverage reduces capital required, but risk can be kept the same.)

Let’s tackle the myth first; the media handles the idea of leverage very poorly, because it often sensationalizes the trader who over-leverages and blows everything.

The idea is simple: I have $100, and I leverage so that I can trade $500 or $1000 of stock/forex. I make one bad trade, and I’m wiped out.

This is true for the person without proper risk-management. After all, the temptation of leverage is to dump all your money into one trade, max out the leverage, and hopefully you make 500% on one trade and can call it a day. The truth is, these lucky trades do happen in reality. Eventually, the trader with his newfound wealth (and greed), piles his money into another trade, and loses everything.

Leverage kills the person who abuses it. It’s like fire; it can cook food for people, or it can kill people.

 

Leverage, in practice, actually keeps you disciplined. In forex trading, maximizing leverage is actually a wise way to start trading. When you leverage, you are actually committing less margin to a trade, and you can get comfortable with trading by committing as little margin as possible. Here’s what I mean:

For example, suppose you have a stop loss of -$10 and a target profit of +$30, and you make a trade of unknown size X.

1:100 leverage – Margin committed for X lots = $102.50 (I’m making this up)

1:500 leverage – Margin committed for X lots = $20.50 (five times smaller)

In the case of higher leverage, you stay comfortable because even though the stop loss is -$10, you see that the margin committed on your account is only $20.50. This allows you to not have to see the wild fluctuations in margin requirement, and keep you trading small and trading often.

There are several benefits to leverage that most people don’t know about.

Also, trading with higher leverage allows you to take multiple positions with little capital. This is great for beginning traders who want to experiment and take multiple trades with a small account. With as little as $500, you can take 3-5 forex positions with leverage, risking anywhere from $5 to $20 or so for each trade. This is a great way to start for aspiring forex traders.

 

MYTH #2: BROKERS ARE OUT TO HIT YOUR STOP LOSSES
(Reality: You get stopped out because of the market, not because of the broker.)

Many people who have been trading for some time get convinced that the broker wants them to be stopped out of their positions. I’ve heard of this and seen it happen; the trade hits your stop loss, then immediately goes in your favour and flies in the direction you want, and then you beat yourself up and say “I was supposed to make $XYZ on this trade but I got stopped out because of the stupid broker!”

The truth is, the broker has better things to do than to keep hunting the stoploss on your account.

At least, this is for brokers who want to remain in business over the long-term. How do brokers make money? They make money if you keep trading. Why would any broker want you to stop trading? They would actually want you to be profitable, because for every trade you make, they get a small cut from the spread (also known as the bid-ask spread). Essentially, they want you to love trading and trade so much and so often that they get large revenues from spreads.

Why in the world would the broker want to stop you out? The reason why we get stopped out, is because we are bad traders.

Professionals are buying or selling exactly where your stop loss is placed, because they know that the average investor would place their stop loss there.

The solution to not getting stopped out, is to first acknowledge that trading involves some positions getting stopped out. Being right 40-50% of the time is already sufficient for you to be profitable, so don’t be surprised if half your positions get stopped out.

One example is a sideways market. Beginners love to enter on sideways markets because it presents many signals in both directions. However, professionals are buying and selling at the extremes of the sideways markets, causing beginners to get stopped out repeatedly, while professionals make money repeatedly. Remember that there is another trader on the other side who is filling your order; if you are losing money, it is because someone else is taking money from your account, and putting it in their account.

MYTH #3: FOREX IS MORE RISKY THAN STOCKS
(Reality: Risk is independent on the product, and forex actually requires less capital.)

In a previous blog post, I mentioned this: If you have $500 to invest, it actually makes more sense to trade forex.

In the Forex market, you can ‘get a feel of the game’ by risking a few dollars per trade. By trading the smallest lot size (0.01 lots), you can learn to make a few dollars here, lose a few dollars there, and rack up trading experience and learn to trade ‘live’ without incurring hefty losses. By learning to make many decisions and experiencing all the different conditions of the market, you would become seasoned enough to trade a bigger size, and fine-tune your own trading strategy to become profitable in the long-run.

Many traders discover they have certain characteristics about themselves that hinder success. In trading a ‘live’ account with a small sum of money, they are putting in some skin in the game, and getting used to the ups and downs of their account. The best part about forex is that there are no commission charges, making the ‘tuition’ fees a lot less than trading in stocks.

I’ve spoken about this at length in my previous blog posts. Besides the lower cost of trading forex, you actually lower your risk by getting better at trading. After all, the biggest risk is yourself. If you’ve got skin in the game, made a few hundred trades with real money, and got yourself a strategy that you can rely on, you are actually a lot less a risk to yourself.

24/7 market; choose when you want to trade.

The great thing about Forex is that you can decide when to trade based on your schedule. That helps people who have punishing schedules: trading in the middle of the night, or during lunch, on a daily basis, works out to a trading schedule that accommodates your lifestyle needs.

Stocks have bigger gaps between bars than Forex does.

Furthermore, with regards to stocks, stocks tend to see bigger gaps between days. Here’s what I mean:

forexForex pairs/currency futures tend to have less gaps between bars; bars close and open at roughly the same price. Here, the chart of NZDUSD (daily).

stockMost stocks have gaps between the candlesticks/bars. Notice how there are many ‘holes’ between bars for First Majestic Silver Corp (NYSE).

Gaps make the analysis a little more complex, because you have to take into account the size of the gap along with the actual candlestick printed on the chart. Forex allows you to employ technical analysis more simply, and learn how to read price action without the distraction of having to figure out what the gap means. Of course, this isn’t a problem among more liquid stocks like the SPY, C, MCD, FB and other “famous” counters.

WHAT’S THE REAL RISK?

The real risk in trading lies with the trader. The moment you stop improving, stop learning, stop growing, or stop challenging yourself, you’ll start to see your profits suffer. I encourage all of you aspiring traders to seek the truth, and rely less on opinions in your trading journey. After all, you can only find out the truth when you’ve got some money on the table, and actually start to make trades.

WANT TO GET STARTED IN TRADING?

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How Much Must You Save to Have $1M at Retirement? (The Answer is Surprisingly Low!)

a

These days, $1M seems to be the golden figure that everyone aims to attain before retiring. I know there is this great debate about whether $1M is enough, but hey, $1M can get you by for many, many months.

Here’s a table summarizing exactly how much you need to save (or rather, invest) every month, in order to retire with $1M. Using some formulas from my finance 101 class in university,

tableThere you go. I tabulated the figures for easy reference.
Source: MS Excel

It’s one thing to know how much to save monthly, but the real challenge is to get down to doing it.

Here’s 3 tips I have to help you guys attain your own financial goals. They are simple, but you might be surprised how hard they are to actually follow-through with!

 

TIP 1: SAVE MONEY, REALLY.

Yes, save money. This is so easy to say, but difficult to do.

I remember that in my younger days, after receiving my first paycheck, I went out and quickly spent half of my salary on a ‘gift’ to myself, as a reward for seeing the first stack of cash come into my bank account. I quickly learnt that I did not actually need that gift, and that saving money was very, very difficult, especially since you know that your income is certain!

If there was one piece of advice on how to actually save money, it is this: PAY YOURSELF FIRST! It is surprisingly difficult to get yourself to do this, but you must learn to pay yourself first. Paying yourself first doesn’t mean buying something for yourself; it means moving money out from your paycheck into a savings account or investment account on a regular basis.

Perhaps its tough for the first few months, but new habits take time to form and when you actually get down to it, you see that it is a very useful habit to have. In fact, if you have children, it would be good to start teaching them this from a young age. “Pay yourself first, and then spend what you have left” is a good way to instill financial discipline in the younger generation.

Before you ask “How much do I need to save?”, why don’t we just get down to the first step, which is to actually start saving money?

Once you get in the habit of saving, it because second-nature. After doing so for some time, we can move on to the next tip:

TIP 2: BUILD A TRULY DIVERSIFIED PORTFOLIO

Generally speaking, there are two kinds of investing strategies:

FAST money: trading income, bringing in quick gains.

Trading is the way to quickly build up a portfolio and invest in dividend-yielding counters or REITs. Once you’ve stuck to a simple trading strategy, repeating it over time is bound to yield significant profits, much faster than you would in a fixed deposit or by holding the stock index for 5-10 years.

SLOW money: passive income, bringing in smaller but consistent gains.

For those with lots of money, they can allocate much of their portfolio to more stable assets, like dividend stocks, the stock index (it brings a dividend as well!), or other longer-term bonds.

Most people want to use fast money  all through their life, but it is unrealistic. As we age, we have less and less energy and time to continually engage the markets, so the goal is always to have a large war chest that brings in true passive income.

You might be surprised how few people understand the true meaning of a portfolio. Sometimes, the word ‘portfolio’ brings in the idea that you can only buy 5-10 stocks and hold them over 20-30 years. I beg to differ; in a portfolio, one must be truly diversified across…

  • All asset classes (forex, bonds, stocks, REITs, ETFs, commodities)
  • Time horizons (fixed deposits / buy-and-hold dividend stocks VS trading income)

Learning to do so requires some dedication and bumping your head in the wrong places at first. That’s why I always recommend that beginners take up forex trading; they’ll be exposed to market volatility, intra-day and longer-term trading, and also different asset classes by trading oil, gold, wheat, the stock indices, and bonds. Furthermore, you need as little as $500 to start with, and the cost of failure is very low.

 

TIP 3: STAY CONSISTENT

It is remarkably difficult to do something simple over and over again.

Want to lose weight? Exercise and eat healthy. But how many people actually keep to this?

Want to become better at socialising? Spend more time with people rather than with your phone or computer. But how many people actually keep to this?

Want to learn to trade? Stick to 1-2 trade setups, and repeat these trades week after week. But how many people actually keep to this?

It is very, very difficult to do what is simple and boring. In fact, it is the boredom that kills most traders!

One thing that experienced traders fail to do that knocks them out of the game is this: they fail to keep reading, reflecting, and honing their craft.

Continuous learning has to be part of your investing plan. After all, most people only want to invest money, but don’t want to invest the time to learn how to be profitable.

How much returns is good returns?

Well, that depends on your goals. There is a trading strategy for every level of returns. A conservative 10-20% returns as a trader is possible and you generally take a lot less risk than someone who wants 100-200% returns a year.

Depending on when you want to retire, you need to find out how much % returns you need a year, and look for a strategy that gets you there.

 

IT’S BORING, BUT YOU NEED TO TRACK YOUR PROGRESS!

how-muchWith a Google search, I found a useful table to track your progress, credits to businessinsider.sg! Source: BusinessInsider.sg

Suppose you want to save $1M, it’s extremely important to track if you are on target, and see if you need to allocate more funds to fast money or slow money.

If you are proficient with MS Excel, you should be able to come up with a table for your income, expenses, savings, investment returns, and projected net worth by whatever year that you are aiming to retire by.

I hope this article brings you to your feet and gets you started on your quest for financial freedom. Maybe for you, the first step is to actually start saving money! Starting where you are is all you need to do. With every step you take, you’ll be one step closer to your goals.

Cheers! 🙂

RESEARCH SOURCES & REFERENCES

businessinsider.sg/compound-interest-monthly-investment-2014-3/
businessinsider.com/retirement-savings-guide-2014-3?_ga=1.199140719.1988080035.1478087095

 

Top 3 Reasons Why You Should Start Investing in 2017

copy-of-copy-of-not-allthose-who-wanderare-lost

Brexit, Trump, Italy, asset bubbles all over the world… you name it, there’s probably some financial market jitters that keeps most people out of the world of investments.

On the flipside, the financial world often quips about some investment that has made xx% over a certain period of time, trying to entice visitors with a glimpse of the profits possible for anyone. In the world of investing, it is easy to find spectacular returns on hindsight, and salesmen go through great lengths to market what has already happened.

As traders, we live in a constant state of uncertainty. Every trade we make has the possibility of going wrong, and this is taken into account when a decision is made. It is the knowledge of this that gives power to a trader; if he can understand the math behind his investment decision, he can have a positive expectation and a positive traders’ equation.

There are three main reasons why trading is even more attractive these days. Indeed, with advanced technology, there has never been a better time to step into the world of finance, and grab a golden egg while you still can.

GOLDEN EGG 1: TRADING GIVES A HIGHER INTEREST RATE THAN BANKS

fdThe best you can get on a fixed deposit is 0.35% a year in Singapore, as at December 2016.
Source: moneysmart.sg

While inflation is a constant enemy for our savings accounts, most people do not know what to do to combat inflation. The most common quick-fix is to work harder and earn more money. While that does feed us and our families for some time, the need to build a war chest for emergencies becomes more and more real.

 

How much can you make from trading? Institutional traders bring in a success rate anywhere from 30%-70%. Why is this so?

The greatest insight into the markets that can make you profitable is this: 90% of the time, the odds are 50-50, while 10% of the time, the odds swing 60-40 (slightly in your favor).

That’s right. While most of the time, markets are 50-50, it is those brief moments when the market gives some opportunity, and prices quickly move to take advantage of this opportunity. That means that if you were to buy or sell randomly, you already have a 50% chance of success!

Another insight to know is that a high success rate (hit-rate) brings a lower profit target, while a low success rate brings a higher profit target.

What do I mean by this? Institutions trade using a combination of low-probability and high-probability trades.

Example: 40% (low) success rate, win = +2%, lose = -1%.”

low

In this case, if you were to make 100 of such low-probability trades, you would make +80% on winning trades and -60% on losing trades, bringing a 20% return on capital.

Example 2: 75% (high) success rate, win = +0.5%, lose = -1%

high

In this case, if you made 100 high-probability trades, you made 37.5% on winning trades and -25% on losing trades, bringing +12.5% return on capital.

It is impossible for the market to give high-probability trades with a high profit potential. This would be quickly detected by institutional traders, who have mathematicians, PhD staff, and computer science experts who can quickly make adjustments and profit from it. With hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, these people would do all they can to bring profits for their firm.

 

That is why if anyone quips that they have a 80-90% success rate, they are probably having many small wins but a few gigantic losses. If you don’t believe me, try trading forex and planting random trades with low profit potential and high loss potential. The numbers indeed prove to be true!

That is also why it is important to understand the traders’ equation. With a reasonable success rate and an appropriate win-loss ratio (or risk-reward ratio, RRR), you would be profitable over the long-run.

I have had days where I ran 7-8 trading losses in a row, but because I trusted in the probabilities, the next 3-4 trades ended up profitable, as long as I stuck to my trade setups and didn’t let the emotions get the better of me.

GOLDEN EGG 2: TRADING DOES NOT REQUIRE LOTS OF CAPITAL

If you have $500 to invest: trade forex.

In the Forex market, you are entitled to ‘get a feel of the game’ by risking a few dollars per trade. By trading the smallest lot size (0.01 lots), you can learn to make a few dollars here, lose a few dollars there, and rack up trading experience and learn to trade ‘live’ without incurring hefty losses.

By learning to make many decisions and experiencing all the different conditions of the market, you would become seasoned enough to trade a bigger size, and fine-tune your own trading strategy.

Many traders discover they have certain characteristics about themselves that hinder success. In trading a ‘live’ account with a small sum of money, they are putting in some skin in the game, and getting used to the ups and downs of their account.

The best part about forex is that there are no commission charges. The broker makes money from the bid-ask spread, which is the difference between the buy/sell price, and most brokers charge reasonable spreads, allowing you to trade with almost negligible transaction cost.

If you have $3000 to invest: explore stock CFDs.

Stock CFDs have low commissions and can be bought in small quantities – a few thousand dollars can allow you to have a portfolio of 5-10 stock positions.

For people with less time and more money, stock CFDs can be a great way to learn to deal with commissions, spreads, fee structures, and the whims and fancies of the stock market.

The stock market is only open during working hours, unlike the forex market. Someone who is interested to take longer-term positions may be open to trading stock CFDs, risking small amounts of money, and yet racking up trading experience.

Some people quip that the forex market is more difficult to trade than the stock market. I beg to differ, because it is your circle of competence that determines your success, not the actual characteristics of the market.

If I were to ask you to drive a Formula 1 race car, you probably would kill yourself within the next few hours or so. However, if you were progressively taught how to drive the race car, it doesn’t become dangerous, and because of the progressive nature of your learning, the high speeds don’t come as a shock to you.

f1Driving this car is dangerous, only if you are not trained.
Source: wallscorner.com

Many people get shocked at the speed by which forex markets move during the Non-Farm Payroll Announcements and FOMC Interest Rate Announcements; prices can move 10-50 times faster than normal during those crazy periods! However, with practice, these sessions can become a profitable time for traders with experience and proper risk management.

If you have $10,000 to invest: trade everything.

People with more money have the luxury of trading a combination of stocks, forex, commodity, bonds, and index trades. These can be accessed through any decent forex broker, and you’ll be surprised to find that most forex brokers let you trade forex, oil, gold, the Dow Jones Index, the S&P, the bond markets, wheat, corn, natural gas, and more. These of course come with higher margin requirements, but exploring all the asset classes makes you a seasoned, well-rounded investor that can take any market condition.

Sideways in the forex market? Maybe there is a trending opportunity in the oil market. There’s always something to trade if you have the experience and know where to look.

However, in my opinion, the greatest investment is Golden Egg 3.

GOLDEN EGG 3: TRADING BOOKS ARE CHEAP AND EASY TO FIND

John Murphy: Technical Analysis of the Financial Markets. One of the great trading classics that builds a strong foundation.

John Murphy’s book on technical analysis reveals the fundamental nature of financial markets. Prices move in patterns and cycles, and understanding history helps you to cope with what is to come.

In my trading journey, I’ve read more than 200 books, and found only about 11 of them that are useful in my trading career. These books were either borrowed from the library, or bought only for $30-$50 a book, which is a very good price (since stock commissions can be $15-$25 already!).

Buying a few good trading books can completely change your destiny.

If you are starting out, why not invest in 3-5 good trading books, before getting your hands wet in the financial markets? These books would build a strong foundation, and you would start off with a better understanding of why things happen.

bookSome of the more famous online bookstores.
Source: Company websites

Amazon.com and bookdepository.com provide great options and they ship almost anywhere in the world. Personally, I found that bookdepository has the more exotic books, but it is a little pricey (yet still worth it since you can’t find the books easily!)

Second-hand books: Carousell if you live in Singapore! If you’re lucky you can find good books at a discounted price. Even though the books may be a little dusty and yellowed, it’s the content that you want to really absorb. You can always find what you want if you search hard enough!

TRADING & INVESTING EDUCATION IS WITHIN OUR GRASP

If you are still thinking about it, here’s why you should pick up investing education:

  • Historical chart data is free (we used to need to pay in the 1990s and 2000s)
  • Free resources are available
  • Books are cheap and easy to find
  • Starting cost is as low as $500
  • Cost of failure is low
  • Experience can be racked up with very little capital
  • There is a market for every type of investor

And most of all, it can bring higher returns in the long-run than placing your capital in the bank account. Sure, you might risk losing a couple of dollars at the start, but the cost of ignorance is a lot higher when compounded over the next 5, 10, or 20 years!

Wishing you all the best in your trading journey, and I do hope this article serves as a pump to start you on your quest for investment expertise!

Cheers!

 

RESEARCH SOURCES & REFERENCES

http://www.moneysmart.sg/fixed-deposit
http://www.lifehack.org/articles/money/15-best-online-bookstores-for-cheap-new-and-used-books.html

3 Insanely Profitable Traders You Probably Never Heard Of – What Makes Them Different?

When people think trader, they think rogue trader Nick Leeson. 20 years ago, a single derivatives trader caused Barings bank to collapse, leading to many quickly labelling forex trading as an evil profession.

Here’s a photograph of that historic event when it happened:

1Source: The Guardian

As most people know, proper risk management would prevent failure on such a catastrophic scale. At the same time, it is unfortunate that some of the most famous traders in the world shot to fame as a result of one big trade that normally rocks the headlines. This results in some traders having the mentality that they just need that one big winner to retire comfortably.

Let’s take a look at two famous examples:

GEORGE SOROS – BREAKING THE BANK OF ENGLAND

Soros famously made $1 billion from shorting the British Pound. This was what made his name famous and he was named the man who “broke the Bank of England”,  apparently due to him shifting (or shorting) $10 billion dollars worth of currency.

ANDREW KRIEGER – TRADED BIGGER THAN THE NZD MONEY SUPPLY

Andrew became famous when he shorted the New Zealand Dollar of almost $1 billion in value,  which was more than the money supply in circulation in New Zealand during that year! Andrew ended up garnering $300 million in profits from this single transaction alone for his trading firm.

We know that these two traders had trading accounts that were unbelievably large. This is not the case for almost all of us. Therefore, we need to gain the skills and knowledge that can bring consistent, decent returns on an average trading account size. The key is to look for sustainability, and this is definitely learnable.

“Trading is not about getting a one-hit wonder. It’s a career decision, and requires as much commitment and passion as building a business.”

Below, I’ve picked out three excellent traders who I believe will change the way you think about trading.

How many of you can recognize these faces? 😀2Source: philanthrophyroundtable.org, tastytrade.com


EXPERT TRADER #1: TOM SOSNOFF

1Tom Sosnoff sharing option strategies on his daily financial show with his daughter
Source: Tastytrade

Tom Sosnoff started off as a political science graduate working in the Chicago Options Exchange as a market maker. An industry veteran, he quickly spotted the market opportunity in online option trading, and co-founded and created the famous Thinkorswim trading platform. He later sold it to TDAmeritrade for a handsome sum of more than US$600 million.

A maverick of sorts, he is currently most famous for his financial network TastyTrade, where he shares professional trading strategies relating to derivatives and covers topics that are extremely difficult, such as advanced option greeks, and also the very basic. He exhibits some traits that are very rare and valuable to a trader:

  • Substantial and deep trading expertise.

Sosnoff’s knowledge of his area of specialization is admirable indeed. If you are familiar with options, or consider yourself a veteran in the options arena, you might want to think twice after knowing how much expertise he has garnered.

If one wants to make it in the trading arena, one has to be absolutely familiar with the tools of his trade, and the lingo used by industry practitioners. Forex traders, for example, know the ebb and flow of orders throughout the day, such as the Asian/European/American session, and can detect upcoming volatility even before it strikes. For price action traders, the trader can become so proficient that he knows when to stay out of the market within a few seconds.

  • Sharp business acumen.

A trader is ultimately a shrewd businessman. His trades are merely expressions of his ability to spot opportunities for profit, and he quickly knows if he has made a wrong decision. When he is right, he presses his bets and makes the most out of it. Just as a professional poker player knows the odds of every single set of cards dealt to him, a trader knows the odds of every market situation presented to him.

“If you can play poker well, you can probably trade well. Every trader is a shrewd businessman at heart, placing bets where it matters, with reasonable, sound analysis.”

The trader is also absolutely clear of his strategy. Trading without a strategy is as good as flipping a coin, but with a clear plan for attack and defence, the trader is able to defend his account and successfully build his net worth in the long term.

  • Continuous growth.

In his daily financial shows, Sosnoff quips that he has learnt far more in his years explaining option trading concepts, than he learnt while being a professional trader and market-maker in the days of the exchange floor. His team continuously churns out data and statistics on the probability of different option strategies, ranging from basic ones like naked put selling, to exotic strategies like jade lizards and the like.

“Perhaps the reason why most traders fail is they fail to see themselves as entrepreneurs.”

The ability to continually analyse his strategies and develop his domain knowledge is the key to his continual success. Where many of his peers in the trading floor days have left the industry, unable to keep up with the fast-paced world of online trading, Sosnoff has soared way above and carved a niche for himself.


EXPERT TRADER #2: BRUCE KOVNER

3Bruce Kovner with his wife
Source: The Kovner Foundation

Kovner made his first trade on credit, borrowing money to execute a soybeans futures trade, where he made $23,000 on a borrowed sum of $3,000. He was interviewed in the famous book ‘Market Wizards’, and in 2003 he reportedly ran an $11 billion dollar hedge fund named Caxton Associates. He is a rather low-profile guy and shuns media attention.

“I have no bias toward any of the markets… I am just as happy a trader in a bear market as in a bull market, rates up or down, commodities up or down.”
– Billionaire hedge fund manager, Mr. Bruce Kovner

  • Develop a strategy that you are comfortable with.

Kovner’s hedge fund trades based on global macroeconomic conditions. In the hedge fund world, this is called macro-trading, and is a common way to manage a large portfolio. His unique approach to the markets has earned him 28% per annum over more than 20 years (every single year!). Just as he says in the quote above, he is comfortable trading any kind of market, in any kind of condition.

  • Really understand what causes markets to move.

Fundamentally, institutions and banks move money because of their view on global macroeconomic conditions, and they express this in the form of price action, demonstrating commitment through their buying and selling.

Although most small traders don’t have the luxury to express their view of the economy with hundreds of millions of dollars, it helps for us to understand where the world is heading toward, so that we can ride on the moves of the institutions.

For example, you may have heard of the famous saying “The trend is your friend.” Sure enough, as long as the trend is clear, it shows that institutions are piling into the particular financial product that you are trading. You don’t argue against a trend; you flow with what the majority of market players are doing. The context of the market is far more important than the trading signal; just because you see a bearish candlestick pattern does not mean it’s a wise trade to short the market – you have to see whether the surrounding price action supports your trade idea.


EXPERT TRADER #3: LEWIS J. BORSELLINO

4Borsellino trading in the pits as a young man.
Source: Tastytrade

Lewis Borsellino came out of a troubled past. As a young man, he had to live with the shocking murder of his father and having to deal with emotional blow while working at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. He started off as a runner before becoming a formidable opponent in the S&P futures pit. At one point, he claims that he traded so large that market participants looked to him as a sign that the market was going to turn. Apparently, his trading volume accounted for as much as 10% of total trading occurring in the futures pit!

  • Get very, very good at what you do.

His confidence on the pit was astounding. He knew what he was doing, and traders around him could feel it. In those days, the expression and emotional state of the trader contributed to the mood around the arena. With electronic trading, this plays a less important role, but the market still expresses itself with price, and the despair and ecstasy of traders can be understood if you examine price very carefully.

He almost exclusively traded the Standard & Poor’s 500 pit during his 19-year career on the trading floor.

“I was very good at what I did.”
– Lewis Borsellino

Many people use multiple indicators, hoping to quickly find a system to get good as a trader. However, what works is to be very good at at most 1 or 2 indicators, or simply trade with no indicators, so that you can gain the most expertise and be familiar with what really matters.

In the proprietary trading world, some traders only use Level 2 quotes, trade ladders, without any charts! There are other traders that make portfolio allocations, while there are some that engage in high-frequency intra-day trading. It does not matter how you get there; once you have selected something, you need to get very good at what you do.

Now that we’ve covered the lives of these three traders, let’s take a closer look at trading as a possible career path.

TRADING AS A CAREER – WHAT DOES IT REALLY TAKE?

Many traders are frustrated with their trading results because they don’t change their behaviour. They make many, many trades, but fail to ask the right people and seek the right guidance, causing them to make the same mistakes over and over again. If you do what you always do, you will get what you always have been getting.

Lewis Borsellino left the trading floor and entered online trading. Initially, he backed a lot of floor traders financially and groomed them to become profitable, but as time went by, he saw the opportunity in backing both floor traders and online traders, and forced himself to re-learn trading with charts.

If you are still unprofitable in the trading arena, what are you willing to do to make things work out for you? Change your actions, and you will see change in your results!

Anthony Robbins says this really well:

3Source: Goalcast

Perhaps you are someone considering trading as a possible side income, or even as a career. It takes dedication (time!), expertise, patience, as well as some street smarts in order to become a professional trader.

“If you are considering making a career switch to trading, what are you willing to do to make it happen?”

 

RESEARCH SOURCES & REFERENCES

https://www.theguardian.com/business/from-the-archive-blog/2015/feb/24/nick-leeson-barings-bank-1995-20-archive
http://www.forbes.com/lists/2006/10/6OQE.html
http://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2003/09/29/349918/index.htm
http://www.derivativesstrategy.com/magazine/archive/2000/0300qa.asp
http://www.investopedia.com/articles/forex/100515/these-are-most-famous-forex-traders-ever.asp