Monthly Archives: September 2011

No preparation = bad

So my day today perfectly illustrates why psychology is important to trading.

I’ve had a couple of ok weeks (remember, not losing money is a great result as far as I’m concerned) and decided to see whether I could place a minimum of 5 trades per week as a target. Unfortunately this week has mostly involved me driving around the country and not really being able to keep up with what the market has been doing.

In addition today began with me missing the European market open and trying to catch up throughout the day without reference to a plan. I foolishly went ahead regardless which turned out to be a dumb idea especially on the last trading day of the quarter.

So with one (very small) winning trade and two (larger) losing trades I managed to give myself a wakeup call – preparation is everything. Attempting to make money from the market without doing the homework is basically a recipe for disaster.

The best analogy I can come up with is opening your eyes into bright sunshine having spent the afternoon in the cinema. It’s unlikely you’re going to look your best as you squint like a moron… 😉

Still, not losing my shirt is an achievement compared to previous weeks and 4.75% up on the month is my first positive month. I’ll take that and learn the lesson.


Additional progress measures…

I’m quite a fan of statistics since I’ve realised it’s difficult to progress without having a clear view of how you’re doing.

Going over my results I realised a few things…

  • This week’s results have beaten all of my previous ‘wins’ in the last 21 losing weeks
  • Last week and this week were achieved from 4 and 2 trades respectively
  • I missed a large number of profitable opportunities in this short period
While I have been keeping track of the time I’ve spent on learning this subject so far (354 hrs) that’s no longer enough and it’s becoming a slightly irrelevant measurement.

So I’ll be adding another target which is to make 5 good trades a week. Now it’s possible that doesn’t sound like a lot but I don’t want to put undue pressure on myself to enter crappy positions.

It’s also a somewhat limiting factor that I can only concentrate 100% on the European session open until 08:45 am because after that I need to be in my car 😉

However, I reckon this is an achievable target which will help me focus on getting better at trading through actual practice, especially now that I’ve got access to a set of tools which I’ve been successful with. Practising to improve at something is actually fun if you’ve got to a stage where you’re not continually throwing cash out of the window! Hooray! 🙂

So after next week I’ll add number of winning/losing trades to the results page and see how I get on with that.

A retrospective of the last 9 months

It’s been 9 months since I started blogging about learning spread-betting and in the last few weeks my posting rate has dropped off dramatically. Apologies for that.

The reason for this un-characteristic lapse is I’ve actually had a LOT of material to get through so I can actually achieve some level of profitability and consistency rather than blogging about making a bunch of errors, right?

So I’ve been looking back to the beginning of the year to break down the journey so far into manageable chunks that contain some pointers to anyone on a similar path.

Stage 1.

“I haven’t a clue what I’m doing but am going to trade anyway”

At this early stage, you have to consider that you’re very vulnerable… What do I mean by  that?

Well unless you’re living under a rock you’ll come across all sorts of people and organisations who will do their utmost to teach you to trade or sell you the secret to making money from the markets.

Let me be really clear. If you’re going to sign up at any time for a two day course that promises to be able to teach you to trade and it costs £2,000 then you’re about to get screwed. Whatever it is that they promise to be able to do in the time available, given there’s 40 people in the room, is going to be mainly basic and not useful. Just don’t do it.

The most you want to be paying for anything like this (2 days) is £250 and I’d only suggest this is ok after you’ve spent a few months trading. Why? Because otherwise you’ll have no idea whether what you’re seeing is crap advice or not.

If you want to check someone out then see – type in their name and hit ‘search’.

Also – While I ignored the following advice I really suggest you don’t make the same mistake. Start with a demo account and learn the mechanics of trading. No, it’s not exciting but really – it’ll save you money. If you can’t keep your hand off your wallet trade at 10p per point or something really low.

Depending on your tolerance for pain and how much you value being right this stage could last you quite a long time. At this point I read a lot of books about trading. Most of them didn’t help. It’s a funny point that I actually really thought that they were helping at the time but this turned out to be not true and some contained a bunch of total crap. The ones about psychology were actually very useful but in a general sense more than related to trading. I’ll have to revisit the pile of these and see what they actually contain in a few months.

Stage 2. 

“This is really hard and I keep losing”

I’m just coming out of this stage (lol). Previously I considered giving up a couple of times but I’m also quite stubborn so I’m still here. There’s a reason for this that I’ll get to near the end…

Everyone starts trading and thinks it’s all about the charts. If they can get the right combination of things on their charts and somehow deal with the emotional aspects associated with making decisions it’ll be ok. There aren’t that many people out there telling them anything otherwise either.

This reliance on charts (and that everyone sells/wries books from that perspective) is one of the big issues in the UK. My personal belief is that the pursuit of the right combination of lines on a screen is basically people searching for a shortcut. Nine months later I can tell you there aren’t any…

In another blog post I mentioned an audience member arguing with Richard Farleigh about technical analysis as being the be all and end all of trading. I’ve also seen a similar debate happen with Anton KreIl (hedge fund guy) and the same comments in various books. Sadly I didn’t pay enough attention at the time because like everyone else I was looking for a shortcut.

Stage 3. 

“Mostly what I thought was correct is wrong, let’s start again”

It would be crazy to spend another 9-12 months failing at this and not making any money. A few weeks ago this was what I was faced with… so I decided to roll the dice one last time and go to another FX seminar/event. Two days in London for less than £250 and the guy had lots of positive feedback online.

Before I write about this I have to say that I’ve encountered some great people on the road so far. I’m happy to report they’ve managed to ‘crack it’ and are making money at trading – they’re also extremely generous with their time. Special mention goes out to TraderSteve  who is a total diamond and I’d recommend people who want a winning longer term system check him out.

If you want to get a proper education as far as how a hedge fund works and the basis on which they’re making trades then go check out Anton Kreil’s site which I’m sure is going to have a big impact on the educational landscape in the UK where trading is concerned.

This is a ‘higher level’ approach to trading based on ideas not lines on charts… be very afraid as this requires you to think and involves a ‘next level’ approach to fundamentals which I’ve not seen anywhere else.

So back to me here… In one of those ‘serendipitous’ moments I ran across a guy called Jimmy Young who has 20 years of FX trading experience in banks and has spent the last 10 trading his own account.

All I can say is that if you actually want to use your brain, learn to trade profitably and make money then at the very earliest opportunity get hold of this guy’s course and use it.


When you find that becoming successful requires you to think then ask yourself this question… ‘Do I really want to be a trader?’ If the answer is ‘Yes’ then be glad you’ve found possibly one of the best people on the planet right now to teach you.

For anyone of a cynical nature: – I do not personally benefit from any recommendations made in this blog. My intention is to become as really good trader, not to create some artificial passive income generation blowhole. Got that? Ok? Good.

Stage 4. 

“Even though I’ve now got the right tools, I still suck as a trader!”

Why? Because I’ve not had enough practice to actually become half decent. Difference now though is that 9 months later I’ve finally found the right tools. I can’t really express how relieved I am about that last sentence.

Because it’ll make you smile here’s a short list of my current trading issues: –

  • Not entering the trade when I should (talking myself out of pushing the button)
  • Closing the trade too early (think I’ve figured this one out)
  • Lack of mental flexibility (thinking too much)
  • Not understanding the implications of news that comes out (thinking too little)
  • Not having enough time to trade (work)
  • etc…

None of the issues above are about the tools, the market or the strategy. All the issues are my responsibility to solve ’cause they involve the bit between my ears. I’m still an idiot but now I’m an idiot with a flamethrower and not a teaspoon 😉

See, even with the right help this is still a very challenging activity… which is why I love it 🙂

Thanks for reading

Novice Mistake #1 Trying to catch a falling knife

Ergh… terrible week for me so far based on my shocking results (down >10%) though of course I may be able to pull it all together tomorrow 😉

I present rookie error #1 – Trying to catch a falling knife

This is basically attempting to follow the price down on the basis that it looks like it’s dropping fast without taking anything else into account or actually having a strategy

I’ve now reached a new low psychologically/emotionally having discovered I’ve got the self discipline of a hyperactive teenager with ADHD