There is no stereotype of a successful trader. They may be super-dynamic twenty-somethings on Wall Street, busy professionals trading part-time to make a little extra income, or retirees who’ve found an absorbing new money-making passion later in life.
A successful trader may have a Ph.D. in Mathematics or be a High School drop-out. Exceptional traders can come from any imaginable social background and possess a wide range of psychological traits, including varying appetites for risk.
If there’s one thing successful traders have in common, it’s that they all operate in strict accordance with a comprehensive trading plan.
At a minimum, an effective trading plan should include the type of stocks and instruments to be traded, the criteria for entering and exiting trades, the minimum allowable risk to reward ratio, and the level of stop losses that will be used. And perhaps most importantly, the maximum percentage of the trading account that’ll be exposed on any one trade.
The use of simple but thorough trading plans like this has enabled even inexperienced traders to earn consistent profits in the markets. Trying to trade without a plan has led many high fliers to crash and burn.
Practicing CPA, Steve Boehm of Richfield, Wisconsin, experienced severe financial losses during many years of part-time stock trading until he recently got started with Jeff Williams and SuperNova. Having quickly identified the lack of a guiding system as the major flaw in his trading, Steve is now working hard to develop a more systematic approach. He has already enjoyed some substantial wins as a result. With “slow and steady” as his new mantra, Steve looks forward to enjoying consistent growth in his trading account.
Certified Public Accountant
One trader who knows only too well the dangers of not having a clearly-defined plan is self-employed CPA, Steve Boehm of Richfield, Wisconsin.
Despite the order and methods essential to success in his profession, Steve had been trading for many years, during which he lost, in his own words, “huge amounts of money,” before realizing that, as he puts it, “needed a trading system to save myself from myself.”
Perhaps the low point of Steve’s trading career was when he managed to blow up an account to the tune of some $50,000 by following the recommendations of another mentor who specialized in spread trades.
To his good fortune, Steve recently started working with Jeff Williams of SuperNova. He’s understandably delighted to have already posted a spectacular $26,000 win on a single 8-day trade.
Much more important, though, for Steve’s long-term success is that he recognizes the importance of being systematic in his trading and avoiding “randomly entering and exiting trades,” as he has done in the past.
And while someone could argue that these instruments are far too complex and potentially volatile for the part-time trader, in truth, this argument misses the point.
“I’ve traded stocks for years and lost huge amounts of money. It was obvious that I needed a trading system to save myself from myself.”
For no matter how expert and experienced a trading mentor may be, he or she is not infallible. Every mentor (and trader) will inevitably experience losses.
No matter how persuasive the mentor’s explanation of the technical reasons for entering a trade appears, his or her underlying assumptions and interpretation of market-moving news events and his or her approach to risk management may be very different than yours.
None of this is to deny the enormous benefits of investing in a good mentor. It’s fine to closely evaluate the trading opportunities the mentor suggests, but to follow his or her trades blindly is a recipe for disaster.
In the worst case, apprentice traders may pick up a series of winning trades from the mentor, growing both their account along with unrealistic confidence in their abilities at the same time. This naive self-confidence may tempt the trader to risk more per trade.
When the inevitable run of losses comes along, this “unrealistic” trader is likely to become confused, anxious, and even angry. Many will be tempted to switch immediately to another mentor and strategy, after which the cycle of hope followed by disillusionment promptly starts over again.
That’s why it’s vital for all traders to work continuously to improve their understanding of both the technical and fundamental factors which may affect the outcome of each trade. This way, they can gain enough knowledge to be able to form an independent view of each recommended trading opportunity.
Above all, for consistent long-term profits, you must build and take ownership of your own trading plan, one that suits your temperament, tolerance to risk, and trading goals. Once these variables are clearly-defined, you’ll be in a position to evaluate each potential trade against your plan and reject those that do not meet your criteria.
“I’ve tried other options. I mirrored, almost trade for trade, another mentor’s spread trades, and blew up my account to the tune of 50K in losses. I watched Jeff Williams’ system and liked that it wasn’t as volatile.”
As Steve Boehm has come to realize, the knowledge and skill required to do this quickly, accurately and unemotionally cannot be acquired overnight. It can only be gained through diligent study and significant live trading experience over an extended period.
That’s why if you ask Steve if he has any advice for new traders, he says simply, “Go slooooowwww!”
All experienced traders will agree that the markets are no place for the impatient, nor do they welcome those who come to them anxious to meet some specific financial goal.
It should be no surprise that young, reckless traders of the archetypal, “Make a million before I’m 30”, kind seldom prosper for long. Then there are the older people nearing the end of their careers, who often put pressure on themselves to have a specific amount of money in the bank before they can comfortably retire.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having financial goals; they’re an essential part of most traders’ motivation. However, the problem with setting highly specific money targets is that the pressure they impose may drive poor trading decisions. Some common examples are; taking too large a position, taking less than optimal trades, or not sticking to your exit criteria.
In short, sooner or later, you are likely to get lured away from your trading plan, with all the adverse consequences which may follow. Fortunately, though, it’s a risk of which Steve is now well aware, and for the moment, he’s keeping his target earnings both modest and realistic.
“I watched one of Jeff’s live introductory trading sessions. I got into one of the trades he was looking at at the end of the day. 8 days later, I exited the trade for a $26,000+ profit!”
As Steve puts it, “I’d like to start seeing month after month increases in my account. I don’t want to set a dollar goal as I feel it could affect my trading.”
This attitude may not follow conventional advice about setting goals in other walks of life. Still, it’s a sensible, low-key way to tackle stock trading, particularly if you’re trying to recover from a blow-up.
“I’m looking forward to the climb up,” is how Steve sums up his current view of his trading future. The markets, after all, will be there tomorrow, next week, and next year. With this new pragmatic approach to trading, Steve has only to persevere for the profits to come.
Do you have a Raging Bull success story to share?