How to Start Trading

This book is the work or the author‟s experience and opinion. Names, characters,
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About the Author
Oli Hille is the Amazon #1 Bestselling author of the book “Creating the Perfect
The book reached #1 in three separate Amazon categories.
Oli has been trading the financial markets for more than 20 years.
National Media has covered his trading success.
His average annual return for the period 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2014
(eight years) was 35.65%
Oli is a happily married father of three beautiful children, who makes Life and
Lifestyle a priority. He teaches (and uses) the key Trading skills outlined in this book
to help people improve their trading returns and in so doing achieve a better life for
themselves and the people around them.
Part 1 - My Trading Background
Part 2 - Introduction
Part 3 - Trading Basics and Psychology
Part 4 - My 13 Hard Earned Trading Rules
Part 5 - Brokerage and Carry Costs
Part 6 - How to Start Trading
Part 7 - You Must Find YOUR Way of Trading
Part 8 - You MUST Have an Edge
Part 9 - Timeframes
Part 10 - Discipline as a Trader
Part 11 - Money Management
Part 12 - Risk
Part 13 - Cut Your Losses But Let Your Gains Run
Part 14 - Technical Analysis
Part 15 - Fundamental Analysis
Part 16 - Trend Trading
Part 17 - Trading Platforms
Part 18 - Losing Streak
Part 19 - Trading Legends
Part 20 - Mentoring
Part 21 - God and Trading
Part 22 - Solomon Wealth Fund
Part 23 - My 2007 Trading Diary
Part 24 - My 2008 Trading Diary
Part 25 - The Perfect Trade
Part 26 - The Main Event
Important - Disclaimer
By reading this Book you agree that this Book and any trading or investing ideas described
are for informational and educational purposes only and do not constitute any advice or
recommendation. The information contained in this communication is based on generally
available information and, although obtained from sources believed by Oli Hille to be
reliable, its accuracy and completeness is not guaranteed. This communication is not
intended to forecast or predict future events. Past performance is not a guarantee or
indication of future results. No liability is accepted by Oli Hille for any loss (whether direct,
indirect or consequential) that may arise from any use of the information contained herein
or derived here from. Oli Hille and representatives are not stockbrokers, financial or
investment advisors and do not recommend any stocks, bonds, options, CFD’s, currencies
or any securities of any kind. Any financial securities that are mentioned throughout the
course of this document are cited only for illustrative and educational purposes. Investing
in financial markets is risky and it is possible to lose money. It is recommended that you
seek a professional licensed financial advisor prior to implementing any investment
program or financial plan. You acknowledge that Oli Hille and representatives have not
promised you in any manner whatsoever that you will earn a profit from your personal
investments. If you do not agree to be bound by these terms then please discontinue
reading. These terms can be modified at any time without notice.
[CONSUMER NOTICE: Some of the URL links to third party products in this report are affiliate links. This
means I may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You should always perform due
diligence before buying goods or services from anyone on the Internet or offline.]
My Trading Background
I have been trading the financial markets part time since 1990. I became a full time
trader on 1 January 2007. My average annual return for the period 1 January 2007
to 31 December 2014 was 35.65%.
My Trading Lifestyle was covered by the media in 2008 and the story was
syndicated country-wide.
You can read the article here:
I regularly mentor beginning and intermediate traders. I have mentored over 50
Traders. I also co-founded (with world renowned trader Nigel Babbage) a Trading
Club with over 200 members.
I hold a first class honors degree in Accountancy and I am a Chartered Accountant
(CPA). I also hold a degree in Psychology.
I am a voracious reader of trading books and I have a large trading library of books,
articles, CDs, DVDs, etc.
I have interviewed a number of top traders and top international fund managers.
My Hedge Fund is starting in late 2015.
I have experienced a large number of employment and business situations. I have
read accounts of dozens of others. Of all of these there is one and only one that is
pure. By pure I mean that at the end of the day there is no doubt about the result of
your efforts. In fact the result stares at you in black and white.
There are no employers to tell you how to do it. There are no employees to train and
supervise. There are no overheads. There are no excuses. There is just you, your
decision making and the result.
There is no advertising, no answering the phone, no customers, no inventory, no
database, no marketing, no cold-calling, no bad debts, no set hours, no set
schedule. Just you, your decisions and the result.
Even better than that, you are playing a giant game with players all over the world.
When you get good enough to win regularly you get paid – a lot!
And it gets even better. The game is so vast and covers so many possibilities that
you can choose which sub-game you want to play. So you can choose a part of it
that fits with your personality, with your strengths, with your sleep patterns, with your
timeframes and your risk thresholds, using strategies that suit you. While there are
some basic rules of play, you can develop entirely your own personal rules to win
the game!
It‟s the purest game of all and you can make a living or a fortune playing it.
What is the name of this game?
Here is a list of some of the markets you can trade:
Equities (shares)
Interest rates
Agricultural commodities e.g. coffee, wheat, beef
Metals e.g. copper, iron
Precious metals e.g. gold, platinum
Indices (indexes) which measure a group of products e.g. a share index, or
a commodity index.
Here is a list of some of the ways you can trade these:
 Outright purchase or sale
 On margin (you put up a small amount of money to be able to trade with a
much larger amount)
 Via futures
 Via options (many different types)
Here is a list of the timeframes you can use:
Intraday (getting in and out within one day)
A few days
A number of weeks
A number of months
A number of years
You can use a combination of any of the above depending on your personality and
your circumstances.
Just like any game, the greater your level of skills and experience, the better you will
Trading is a wonderful way to supplement your income and it fits into just about any
lifestyle. If you have a computer, the internet, a phone and access to a minimum of a
few thousand dollars you can start trading. However like anything in life if you want
to be really good at trading you must give it your undivided focus. If you treat trading
like a hobby, it will be just like every other hobby i.e. it will cost you money!
I have been trading foreign currencies and commodities part time since 1990. Let
me tell you how I first started.
In 1990 when I was 25 I received an inheritance of $30,000. That was back when
$30,000 was a lot of money! I must have been reading a lot of James Bond novels
at the time because I thought it would be really cool to open a Swiss bank account. I
applied to Credit Suisse for the account forms and while I waited for them to arrive I
decided to put my dollars into Swiss Francs.
At that time there was one dealing room in the city I lived in. I phoned them up and
did the deal – I still remember the rate 0.8334! So my NZ $30,000 became 25,002
Swiss Francs.
Three weeks later the bank documents arrived from Switzerland. I phoned the bank
to talk about transferring the money. The broker told me that the exchange rate had
moved in my favor. I asked him what he meant. He said that the exchange rate was
now 0.7962 and that if transferred the Swiss Francs back into NZ Dollars I would
have $31,400. I said “Do it! Do it now!”
When I put the phone down I jumped around the house whooping with delight. I
couldn‟t believe I had just made $1,400 for doing nothing.
The vacation job I had just finished paid $8.60 an hour which was $275 a week after
tax. I had just made the equivalent of five weeks of early starts and hard dirty work –
just by making two phone calls! I changed my mind about opening a Swiss bank
account and instead I started to move my money in and out of currencies. In
retrospect it was a very inefficient way to trade currencies but at the time I didn‟t
know any better. Surprisingly I did six profitable trades in a row and made a few
thousand dollars – I literally could not believe it!
Back in 1990 there was no internet and it was very difficult to check prices and
movements unless you phoned your broker. However, I was studying at university
and Reuters had sponsored a live trading screen at the university library. I could
check my profits and losses between classes! I had a friend at university who had
some money so we started trading together.
As I learned more I started trading metals and commodities such as gold and cocoa.
I was flying by the seat of my pants and I had no real idea what I was doing.
Consequently I had some significant losses followed by that awful feeling in the pit
of your stomach.
Like anything, the more you do it the better and smarter you become. I have made
lots of mistakes in trading but most of these have been real learning opportunities.
Losing hard-earned cash is a good way to learn fast. You never want to make the
same mistake twice.
To help you not to make all of the mistakes I have made, I have thirteen trading
rules which I will outline after the next section.
Trading Basics and Psychology
Leverage and Risk
People are often drawn to trading because leverage means you can use a small
amount of money to control a large amount of money, and therefore make money
much faster than you would with your original stake. However, leverage is a two
edged sword! You can lose money just as quickly. Always remember to consider the
potential loss, not just the potential profit.
Recording Your Trades
It is CRITICAL to record all of your trades on a spreadsheet.
I have spent some years developing two copyrighted trading spreadsheets for
recording trades. If you are interested in purchasing these, please contact me via
my website:
Strengths and Weaknesses
Before you start trading, think carefully about:
What personal strengths will you bring to trading?
What personal weaknesses will you bring?
These strengths and weaknesses will be MAGNIFIED when you start trading,
because the human emotions of greed and fear magnify your natural personality.
Psychology is the key to good trading.
You need to think like a winning trader.
Your self-talk must be positive. Your attitude to trading and the markets must be
Your trades must have so little risk that you do not worry or lose sleep.
The capital you allocate to trading must be money you can spare.
If you violate these principles, once again they will be magnified when you are
My 13 Hard-Earned Trading Rules
I am a trend trader. These are the rules I have developed over the years to help me
as I trade. Some of them relate specifically to trend trading, but most of them have
universal application.
1. Find a Great Broker
A good broker can be the difference between making money and losing money, it‟s
that simple. Of course most new traders use a trading platform and may never talk
to a broker. See the section on Trading Platforms.
But if/when you use an actual broker they must have sky-high integrity and be totally
honest. He or she must be experienced and highly knowledgeable. In my opinion
you should only use a broker that also trades actively and profitably on their own
account. Always ask a potential broker what percentage of their personal income
comes from doing their own personal trades. If they don‟t back themselves why
should you listen to them?
It is important to remember that a good trader makes their own decisions. I use my
broker to bounce ideas off and sometimes he will call me with a recommendation.
But it is always me pulling the trigger.
I have a terrific broker who meets all of my expectations and he is also a great guy.
His name is Graham and if you do your homework and ask a lot of good questions,
you may be fortunate enough to find someone as good as him.
2. Never Risk More Than You Can Stand Losing
Everyone has a different risk threshold and only you know where that is. Basically
you need to know that you can sleep well at night and not make a panicked decision
during the day.
Using a 3:1 profit goal let‟s assume you are happy to try to make $3,000 while
risking $1,000. You know that if your trade is completely wrong the most you can
lose is $1,000. If you are not going to lose any sleep – great, you are within your
threshold. But if you take a position that could conceivably lose $10,000 in the eight
hours you are in bed, can you sleep easily?
Your threshold might be $300 or it might be $30,000, but never go outside it.
Otherwise you will find yourself stewing and worrying and perhaps even getting out
of a trade at an inopportune time. Like any pursuit in life it should be fun, not
3. Never Pick a Top or a Bottom
It is a fundamental mistake to look at any tradable product and say “It can‟t go any
higher!” or “It can‟t go any lower!” The truth is, markets go much further and for
much longer than most people expect.
By trying to guess the top or bottom of a market you are going against the market‟s
momentum. It‟s like standing in the way of a freight train – if you get it wrong you
(and your money) will be mowed down.
I made this mistake once in 2000. The New Zealand Dollar had fallen rapidly and
was a lot lower than it had been for years. I thought to myself “It has fallen so far, so
fast, surely it can‟t fall further”. So I bought NZ$100,000 against the US Dollar. The
next day it continued to slide and I lost $2,500 in one afternoon. That hurt and I‟ve
never forgotten it.
Critical Principle 1: If you try to pick a bottom, all you get is a handful of crap.
Critical Principle 2: Almost nothing is cheap if it is against the trend.
4. Trade with the Market’s Momentum
Markets tend to move in a particular direction for weeks or months and sometimes
years. Property markets, share markets, currency markets, commodity markets and
so on conform to these cycles.
It is therefore safer and more profitable in general to trade with the market‟s
momentum. Sometimes this is known as “trading the trend” or “the trend is your
If for example the US Dollar has been going down against the Japanese Yen for a
few weeks, it is more likely to continue to go down rather than change direction.
Note this does not mean that it will go down in any particular hour or day but rather
that it is likely to be lower in a few weeks time than it is now. You have to be willing
to ride out daily and even weekly fluctuations if you are trading a long term trend.
5. You Never Buy at the Low or Sell at the High
It helps me to remember this and I repeat it to myself.
Let‟s say that I want to buy into a market that seems too low. I don‟t want to try to
pick an exact point and buy it there because I am going against the momentum and
I will probably get it wrong. If however I wait until it has started moving up and the
momentum has changed I can buy it on the way up.
The same thing is true when you exit a trade. No-one can predict the future so you
can‟t expect to sell out at the very peak. It is almost always a mistake to sell
because you think the market has peaked. You need to have a good reason to sell
out of a position and usually it will be because you believe the momentum has
It is human nature to want to get it perfectly right but in trading it is foolish to try. Be
happy that you picked the correct momentum and made a profitable trade. Never
kick yourself because you didn‟t buy at the lowest low or sell at the highest high.
This principle is especially important when observing long-term trends. You may
observe a market that has been trending upwards for two months and is a long way
above its lows. But if you think the trend has another two months left to run you
should buy into it and ride it up further. It is irrelevant that you missed the low by two
months. If you ride the momentum up and make a profitable trade – celebrate!
6. Always Use a Stop-loss Order to Limit Your Risk
When trading a position that technically has an unlimited loss potential (e.g. a spot
currency position or a futures contract) you must always use a stop-loss order.
It works like this:
Place your order e.g. sell US$100,000 (remember because you can trade on margin
you only have to put up $3,000-$3,500 to do this) against the Japanese Yen at the
current rate, say 106.00.
Pick a dollar amount that is the maximum you would be willing to lose if you got it
wrong i.e. the US Dollar strengthening against the Yen instead of weakening. Let‟s
assume that amount is US$1,500.
Using a spreadsheet work out where exactly the exchange rate would have to move
to, giving a US$1,500 loss. The spreadsheet formula looks like this:
= ((100,000*106)/(100,000-1500))
= 107.61 (rounded)
Tell your broker that you want to place a stop loss order at 107.61.
This means that if you get it wrong (and you will sometimes), once the rate goes to
107.61 you will automatically be sold out of your position limiting your loss to $1,500.
Note that neither you nor your broker needs to be watching the rate or even be
awake! Your order is computer generated and will trigger automatically.
Whenever you enter a trade, always accompany it with a stop loss order. If you take
this advice you will avoid large, unexpected losses.
Trailing Stop-losses
In addition, you can use stop loss orders that you move up as the rate moves up.
These are called trailing stop-losses.
Using our US Dollar versus Yen example. If you sell US$100,000 against Yen at
106 and two weeks later the rate is 101.44 your profit will be $4,500. Firstly you
don‟t want to sell at this level because if the market keeps moving (trending) you will
make more. But secondly you don‟t want to risk losing all of the profits you have
already made. The way to accomplish both of these is to move your stop loss order.
Tell your broker to cancel your original stop loss order at 107.61
Ask him/her to place a new stop loss order at 102.91
If the market changes direction you automatically sell out at 102.91 giving you a
profit of $3,000.
But if the market moves down to say 100.00 you would cancel the stop loss at
102.91 and move the stop loss to say 101.50, locking in a profit of $4,435.
You keep doing this until the market changes direction. This way you maximize your
gains. If you trade using an electronic trading platform you can program an exact
trailing stop spacing (e.g. 150 points), and it will track it point for point.
Note: You will never get out at the very top using this strategy but as we have
discussed you never buy at the low or sell at the high. Be happy that you profitably
traded the momentum.
A Note on Retracements:
When I am in a currency position that has performed very well and I am profitable by
a few hundred points, I will do an analysis of the currency chart since the beginning
of the move to see what the retracement amounts have been. A retracement is a
period during which the trend reverses in a small way but then the trend resumes.
For example if I was long USD Yen and I was onside by 350 points (3.5 Yen) I
would look back to see when the trend started. Let‟s say the trend started at 87.00
and the rate is currently 98.00. I would look at every major retracement in that time
and make a note of the amount of each retracement. It might look like this:
First retracement: 3.26 Yen
Second retracement: 1.41 Yen
Third retracement: 2.67 Yen
Fourth retracement: 3.02 Yen
Fifth retracement: 1.89 Yen
Because I am very interested in staying with the trend and NOT being taken out by a
normal retracement, I will generally set my stop loss beyond the range of the
existing retracements.
Therefore because the current rate is 98.00 and I want a stop loss greater than 3.26
Yen (the largest retracement) I will put my trailing stop loss at say 3.3 Yen. My stop
loss would then be 98.00 – 3.3 = 94.70.
IMPORTANT: Most traders will not allow such a big stop loss because they hate the
thought of losing 330 points, especially if they have large positions. However those
traders NEVER get to enjoy a move of 30 big figures (3000 points).
In 1997-98 for example USD Yen moved up 34 Yen (3,400 points). In order to have
participated in the full move you would have had to have used a 5.5 Yen stop loss.
7. Aim for a Profit Ratio of 3:1 or Greater
Clearly the goal of trading is to make a profit over time. Not all of your trades will be
successful. In fact based on the general assumption that all underlying fundamental
economic data is fully priced into the market, there is a 50% chance of any market
going up and a 50% chance of it going down.
Of course you hope that your knowledge and research will help you make an
informed decision, but everyone buying and selling feels the same way!
Given the statistical balance of 50%, it would not be profitable to aim to double your
money on a trade because if you get half right and half wrong you break even.
You should only enter a trade where you believe that you can at least triple your
Using the example of the $1,500 stop loss, you would therefore be aiming for a profit
of $4,500. If you don‟t think that is possible don‟t do the trade.
Of course once the trade is underway you don‟t have to hold out for $4,500 because
the market conditions may change. But the key is to aim for at least a 3:1 ratio
before you enter a trade.
Also of course you shouldn‟t sell out with a $4,500 gain just because that was your
original goal. Really big money is made when you hold a profitable position and
keep making more, as discussed in the next section.
8. Cut Your Losses But Let Your Gains Run
See the section later in the Book.
9. Never, Ever, Under any Circumstances Add to a Losing Position – Not Ever!
This is a mistake I have made a number of times and I pretty much lost money every
time. Basically the mistake goes like this.
You sell US$100,000 Dollars against the Yen at 106.00, hoping it goes down.
Instead it goes up to 108.00. At this time you mistakenly think “It must turn around
soon” so you sell another $100,000 at 108.
One of the perceived advantages is that you have “averaged down” your position.
This means that because you sold at 106.00 and then at 108.00, the rate only needs
to go to 107.00 for you to break even.
However, you are trying to pick the bottom of the market and you are trading against
the trend.
The trend almost always continues and when it goes up to 110.00 you are carrying a
large loss position you should never have exposed yourself to.
It‟s simple – NEVER add to a losing position.
10. Set a Profit Goal for the Year
Without a profit goal you do not have something to aim for. Like all goals make it
measurable and achievable, but also a stretch.
There is something about setting a goal that makes achieving it more likely. Set a
dollar amount trading goal for this year now! Then tell a friend. That makes it even
more powerful.
I thoroughly recommend you read the chapter on goals in my Amazon #1
Bestselling book “Creating the Perfect Lifestyle”. You can buy it here for under $5:
11. Never Trade a Market you Don’t Understand
The people around the world trading the markets are doing it to make profits and
they take it seriously. They research and understand what they are trading. If you
trade a market you don‟t understand you will probably get fleeced.
This happened to me only once. I saw that cocoa (a commodity) was trading at an
annual high so I thought I would sell a contract so that I would make money if it went
Now there are cocoa traders out there who know everything about cocoa supply and
demand, which countries grow it and what their political situation is like, what current
weather patterns will affect crops etc. So what are the chances of me taking a
chance on a whim, of making money? Frankly I‟d be better off taking my money to
the casino and putting it all on one hand of blackjack. Needless to say I lost nearly
$2,000 – lesson learned!
Simply put – understand what you are trading and why.
12. Use Primarily Technical Analysis When Making Decisions
See the two sections on Technical Analysis and Fundamental Analysis later in the
13. Trade Small
When you are starting out it is very tempting to take positions that risk a large
percentage of your capital. Say you start with $10,000. My advice would be to risk
no more than 2% of your $10,000 (i.e. $200) on one trade. That way you can get it
wrong 50 times in a row before you are wiped out! However most traders are not
happy with the small gains possible using only a 2% risk level. Most beginning
traders want to make $500 or $1,000 a week from their $10,000, so they take a lot
more risk. I know because I talk to beginning traders almost every week. This is the
reason so many beginning traders blow up their account (i.e. lose it all). You have to
remember that legendary traders who have been managing money for decades are
considered legends because they consistently return around 25-30% per year for
their clients. Trying to make $500 a week on $10,000 is a 260% annual return. It is
just not sustainable.
Regardless of your starting capital, trade small. If you don‟t have enough capital to
make the exercise worthwhile, work on other ways to increase your capital base. In
my opinion you should not attempt to make a full time living as a trader until you
have at least $100,000 in capital.
If you find yourself risking 10% of your capital on every trade, remember that just
five losing trades in a row will halve your capital. You then have to make a 100%
return in your next few trades just to return to your starting capital again!
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Brokerage and Carry Costs
Trading profitably on a consistent basis is difficult. For that reason it is essential that
you negotiate a low level of brokerage before you start trading.
Brokerage is the commission you pay your broker or your trading platform to enter
and exit trades. It also includes the spread (the difference) between the buy and sell
price on the instrument you are trading. Even though you want to pay as little
brokerage as possible, if you are going to use an actual broker rather than just trade
through a platform it is worth paying for a good one. A good broker will more than
make up for a „cheap‟ broker in experience, advice and integrity.
Another hidden cost of trading is carry costs. These are costs that can add up every
day you are in a trade. For example if you buy the Japanese Yen against the
Australian Dollar you have to pay the high rate of Australian interest and you receive
the low rate of Yen interest. Given that Australian interest rate is many percentage
points higher than Yen interest you need to be aware of the cost of holding this or
similar positions.
How to Start Trading
William Eckhardt (Top Trader and Market Wizard) said that the difference between
those who succeed in trading and those who do not is the amount they read.
Reading Trading Books is the best shortcut there is to successful trading.
In 2008 I made over $100,000 in a two month period and it was SOLELY due to
reading two books, one on trading commodities and one on the Turtle Trading
System (I follow a personally modified and backtested version of this system).
If you want to be a great trader make reading trading books an absolute priority. You
will get:
- Inspired;
- Motivated:
- New Ideas;
- New Strategies;
- Knowledge.
And you get to learn from the mistakes of others.
First, read a lot of books about trading. Here are some of my favorites. They are in
order of importance for the new trader. Each title is a clickable link to
Reminiscences of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefevre
Stock Market Wizards by Jack Schwager
Market Wizards by Jack Schwager
New Market Wizards by Jack Schwager
Way of the Turtle by Curtis Faith
Hot Commodities by Jim Rogers
The Complete Turtle Trader by Michael Covel
Winning on Wall Street by Martin Zweig
How to Make Money in Stocks by William O‟Neil
How to Trade Stocks by Jesse Livermore
Beating the Street by Peter Lynch
Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Taleb
Stock Trader‟s Almanac by Jeffrey A Hirsch
Commodity Trader‟s Almanac by Jeffrey A Hirsch
Adventure Capitalist by Jim Rogers
Investment Biker by Jim Rogers
A Bull in China by Jim Rogers
Buffettology by Mary Buffett
Julian Robertson: A Tiger in the Land of Bulls by Daniel Strachman
Hedge Hogging by Barton Biggs
Wealth War and Wisdom by Barton Biggs
Soros on Soros by George Soros
The Alchemy of Finance by George Soros
God in the Pits by Mark Ritchie
When Genius Failed by Roger Lowenstein
Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist by Roger Lowenstein
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
The Templeton Plan by John Templeton
Pit Bull by Marty Schwartz
How I made $2,000,000 in the Stock Market by Nicolas Darvas
Japanese Candlestick Charting Techniques by Steve Nison
The Complete Trading for a Living by Dr Alexander Elder
How Legendary Traders Made Millions by John Boik
Lessons from the Greatest Stock Traders byJohn Boik
All of these books and lots of other trading books and resources can be purchased
Second, I recommend starting out by “paper trading” which means trading using
play money on a trial trading account. You can start with $100,000 of paper money
and familiarize yourself with the systems and strategies before you put up real
money. You are not allowed to fly a plane solo without practice, you are not allowed
to skydive without practice, you are not allowed to drive a car without practice. The
same is true of trading. Mastery requires repetition and practice.
Note: While paper trading can be fun and a great learning experience,
psychologically it is completely different from real trading. Losing 20% of your
trading capital in a paper trade doesn‟t hurt, but in real money it really hurts!
Similarly a 20% profit is inconceivably better in real money than play money!
You Must Find YOUR Way of Trading
The opportunities for Trading are so vast and cover so many possibilities that you
can choose which particular market you want to trade in. So you can choose a part
of it that fits with your personality, with your strengths, with your sleep patterns, with
your timeframes and your thresholds, using strategies that suit you.
While there are some basic rules you need to adhere to, you can develop entirely
your own personal rules and personal strategies to make money.
This is one of the beauties of Trading for a living. You get to choose the instruments
and the risk levels and the timeframes that suits your personality.
I am continually reading Trading books and interviews with top traders. They almost
all emphasis this point, that you must find a way of trading that suits you. This
means that just because your friend or uncle or colleague trades in a certain way
does not mean you have to follow suit. It is far better to start with a clean slate and
decide exactly how you are going to make money on the financial markets.
I also mentor a number of beginning traders and I see them over time gravitating to
what most suits their personalities.
To speed up the process I suggest you:
1. Read up on all the different markets, and strategies, and instruments you can.
2. Think about how much time you can devote to trading.
3. Work out what time of the day you are most comfortable doing analysis and
actually taking trades.
4. Think about your anxiety and risk levels. If you cannot sleep with your current
position size, or if you don‟t like taking multiple trades in one day you might need to
be a trader that holds positions for a number of days.
1. Never “fall in love” with a market or a trade. Remember all you are actually
dealing with as a trader is pieces of paper. They go up in value and they go down. I
know a number of traders who like gold and they can‟t bear to go short gold, ever.
This is a weakness. You are not actually buying and selling yellow metal, you are
buying and selling pieces of paper that go up and down in value.
2. Successful trading is almost always boring! Yes it‟s true. If you are getting in to
trading for the excitement, you are gambling and you are better off at the casino.
Your sole reason for entering a market must be to dispassionately take money out of
the market. I am not saying you cannot be pleased with your gains. Of course you
can, but that is a byproduct, not the reason.
3. Most human beings have a psychological trait known as “Dollar Fear”. This is
when the pain of losing $1 is greater than the pleasure of making $1. For most
people this means that trading losses are more painful than the enjoyment of an
equivalent trading gain. You need to examine your personality to see how averse
you are to losing money. Losing money is one of the cost of doing business as a
Trader. You cannot quickly take off a losing position just because it is losing. Many
profitable trades are under water for at least a short period of time.
4. IMPORTANT: If you want to be successful as a trader you must give it all of your
energy, focus and attention. You are playing in an environment where everyone is
deadly serious about what they are doing. If you come in with a cavalier attitude or
you are lazy and ill-disciplined, you will lose money.
5. Trading is like anything else in life, it is a learning process. Over time you will
learn more and more, and you will make fewer and fewer mistakes. In my opinion it
is this process that makes great traders. So if you are unprofitable for the first year
or two, keep at it.
Before you start trading, examine your personality and work out how, where, and
when you are going to trade. Also work out your risk thresholds. And finally give it all
of your attention.
You MUST Have an Edge
When you start trading your precious capital you must have an edge in the market.
To explain what I mean, think about a casino. The Casino has an edge in every
game in the casino. For every bet placed there is a probability that the Casino will
win. That means that the Casino is happy to lose some bets because it knows over
a period of time it will win.
You might think that in any trade you take in the financial markets there is a 50%
chance of winning or losing. This is NOT the case. In fact if you believe that you
should not trade at all because after you have paid commissions etc you must LOSE
over time.
A lot of new traders make the mistake of starting to trade without an edge i.e.
without working out a way to put the probability in their favour. Any Trading System
is a system that has been designed to have a probability of profitability.
Critical Principle
Do not start risking your capital until you have
developed or adopted a Trading System that has an
edge in the market.
How do you find an Edge?
A Technical System is one based on market price information only. This is different
to a Fundamental System which is based on the understanding of the actual
underlying economic and instrument-specific information that moves the market you
are trading.
You can have an edge in both types of system. However it is my belief that unless
you have significant in depth knowledge of macro-economics or of a specific
commodity (for example you know almost all there is to know about how wheat is
grown, cultivated, marketed, and consumed) then you are far better off trying to
develop a Technical System that has an edge.
The essential assumption of a Technical System is that there are recurring patterns
in financial markets. In its simplest form therefore a Technical System with an edge
is one that:
1. Has identified a pattern in a specific market.
2. Has identified a way to profit from this pattern recurring.
3. Has been backtested (tested over historic data) and shown to be profitable.
4. Has been forward tested (tested in a live situation) over current data and shown
to be profitable.
Whilst it is possible to purchase systems that purport to have an edge in the market,
the vast majority for sale DO NOT actually have an edge in the market. Think about
it. If you developed a Technical System that was consistently profitable would you
sell it? No, you would trade it. There are some exceptions, but very few.
For that reason my strong recommendation is that YOU research, find and develop
your own Technical System with an edge.
Yes it is a lot of work. But remember trading for a living is a business. There are no
free lunches.
If you insist on trading your precious capital without finding a system with an edge, I
can make life much easier for you. Give all of your trading capital to charity. The
result will be the same (your money will be gone) but at least you will have a warm
feeling, and a tax deduction!
Trading Timeframes are critical to your technical analysis of price information.
In broad terms here is a list of the timeframes you can use:
Intraday (getting in and out within one day)
A few days
A number of weeks
A number of months
A number of years
But the critical factor is that the probability of a successful trade increases to the
extent the timeframes are in alignment.
So for example if you are looking to go long USD CAD and the one hour chart
shows an uptrend, the trade has a higher probability of success if the four hour and
the daily chart also show an uptrend.
At least once a week you also want to look at the long term price trend. This is
useful for gauging historic highs and lows and historic support and resistance points.
It can also show you how high or low the price might go.
I also recommend looking at the monthly chart of any financial instrument you are
about to trade.
You certainly should always look at multiple timeframes when taking a trade. Ideally
only trade when there are multiple convergences across all timeframes.
I also recommend frequently looking at longer term multi-year timeframes. I have
found an excellent resource for long term charts:
Your Personality
You will find that you naturally gravitate to a particular timeframe. That is great
because you want to trade in line with your personality. My favored timeframe is
daily charts. That is because I like to take multi-day and ideally multi-week trades.
However a day trader might gravitate to 5 minute or 30 minute charts. But even
though I look at daily charts for my signals, I will always look at the hourly chart to
see where my best entry point and stop loss point will be.
Discipline as a Trader
When you read interviews with Top Traders and Market Wizards (the traders
interviewed in Jack Schwager‟s books), and read autobiographies of the most
successful traders, the trait that comes up over and over and over again as the most
important for trading success is Discipline.
Why is this the case? It is because trading the financial markets is filled with
opportunities to experience:
When you are hit with this barrage of emotions on an hourly, daily and weekly basis
the natural human response is to react in a manner that we are programmed to.
Every person is programmed to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Making and losing
large sums of money is a massive trigger for pleasure and pain. This means that in
a trading environment our natural inclination is to do a number of things that are
counterproductive to success:
 Avoid actually taking a loss and keeping the position and hoping it will come
back into profit;
 Adding to a losing position to average the loss;
 Breaking risk rules when on a winning run;
 Cutting a loss even through the loss is not near our stop loss.
 And so on.
It is because of these swirling emotions that discipline is so difficult to maintain. But
it is critical to long term success.
Let me give you a personal example. I used to have my risk rules written on my wall.
They governed how much risk I could have in the market at any one time. However
a few times a year in periods when I was making a lot of money I would deliberately
break my rules. This happened once too often I got crushed, and in one night I lost
over 20% of my capital. I thought to myself, “This is ridiculous, I have risk rules but I
don‟t keep them”. So I emailed two people I have huge respect for and I asked them
to be my trading accountability group. I emailed them my risk rules and I committed
to them that I would not break them. I would not dare disappoint them, and so I have
kept to my risk rules ever since then.
For a general outline of the importance of self discipline and how you can change
undisciplined behaviors into disciplined ones see:
Money Management
I have mentored numerous beginning and intermediate traders. I have also cofounded a Trading Club which meets six times a year and has nearly 200 members.
I talk to other traders regularly and I often answer trader‟s questions. The ONE key
area that leads to the greatest losses among beginning and intermediate traders in
poor Money Management.
Critical Principle:
If you do not master Money Management you cannot master
So what is Money Management?
It is simply managing your money and managing your risk.
The reason it is so difficult to master is that the elation of making money and the
pain of losing money are among the most powerful human emotions. When we
become gripped with these emotions, or even the imagination of what those states
would feel like, most people stop thinking rationally and start acting in a high
adrenaline mode. This high adrenaline mode is great if you are in physical danger or
you are exerting yourself in an exciting adventure. But it is NOT conducive to good
The Four Contributors to Poor Money Management
1. Risk
See the section below on Risk.
2. Discipline
A lack of discipline is a cause of a lot of losses in new and intermediate traders.
Such undisciplined habits include:
 Not triple checking a trade (levels, position size and risk) just before you
execute it;
 Not writing down the reasons you took the trade;
 Not spreadsheeting the trade so you have a record of it;
 Not doing a daily revaluation of all positions so you know your profit and loss
on an ongoing basis;
 Not going back and regularly analyzing where you made money and how, and
where you lost money and how.
 Not doing a weekly analysis of the previous week‟s trading.
 Not knowing your year to date profit or loss at one glance.
 And so on.
A close cousin to a lack of Discipline is…
3. Laziness
It must also be said that poor money management is in many cases rooted in
Laziness. Traders often cannot be bothered to calculate the exact percentage risk
and the exact dollar risk of each position. More dangerously, many traders do not
calculate the risk of combined and correlated positions. So for example if you have
the following positions:
- what you actually have is one BIG position that is short USD. If the USD
strengthens you could be stopped out of all of your positions in one session.
This might be a five times bigger loss than you were expecting.
Let me tell you the full story about Laziness and lack of Discipline.
It takes just a few minutes to:
 Triple checking every trade (levels, position size and risk) just before you
execute it;
 Write down the reasons you took the trade;
 Spreadsheet every trade so you have a record of it;
 Do a daily revaluation of all positions so you know your profit and loss on an
ongoing basis;
 Go back and regularly analyze where you made money and how, and where
you lost money and how.
The losses that are racked up by people not doing the above means that the exact
same people who are lazy actually have to go to work for days and weeks and
sometimes months to get back the money they lost!
The few minutes they saved being lazy in their trading has become hundreds of
hours they have to put in just to get back to even!
If this is you, do yourself a favor. Do the easy and quick work – be disciplined in your
4. Lack of Understanding
New and intermediate traders often simply do not understand what they are trading
and how the financial instrument works.
One of the best examples is writing or selling options.
When you are a seller of an option YOU take all the risk. In fact the profit potential is
limited and the loss potential is unlimited.
The attraction in selling options is that someone pays you a premium. So as soon as
you sell the option someone pays you money. As an example say you sell a
currency option for three months and you are paid $1,000. It is completely
conceivable that in three months time you could owe the person you sold the option
to $25,000!!!
Let me give you a real life example. In the bull run in equities in 2005-2007 a lot of
new traders were advised to sell put options on stocks. If stocks (shares) kept going
up the trader just kept the premium. So I heard of a school teacher who started
doing this. Month after month stocks kept going up and he made $1,000 a month,
$2,000 a month, $4,000 a month! Fantastic. But what this trader didn‟t know was the
risk he was carrying. In the meltdown of 2008 this humble school teacher had to
PAY OUT on the options he was selling and lost over $100,000 and lost his house.
Incidentally I NEVER sell options. I do buy options but that is fine because my risk is
limited to the premium I am paying and I have unlimited potential to make money.
I talk to other traders and brokers regularly and I often answer trader‟s questions.
One of the main habits that cause traders to lose money is taking too much risk.
The most common reason that traders lose money is:
 Not understanding risk;
 Not quantifying risk;
 Taking too much risk.
A good trader knows how much percentage and dollar risk they are exposed to at
any one time.
A good trader understands the types of risk he/she faces:
Risk of slippage;
Risk of gapping markets;
Risk of lack of liquidity;
Event risk;
Risk of taking trades overnight, over weekends and over holiday periods;
Carry cost risk;
Risk of discontinuous markets;
Risk of limit down or limit up moves;
And so on.
Did you know that most Top Traders risk less than 1% of their capital on each
trade? Top traders also often limit their overall risk to less than 4% of their capital.
This means that to emulate their risk habits with an account size of $20,000 you
would need to risk less than:
 $200 per trade;
 $800 at any one time in the market (all trades combined).
I take slightly more risk. I allow myself a maximum 1.6% risk on FX trades and 2.2%
risk on Commodity trades. I recommend these as the absolute maximum risk levels
you allow yourself.
Sadly most new traders happily risk 20%, 30% and sometimes 100% of their capital
at any one time. It is no wonder they get wiped out!
Here is an email I received recently and my response:
“Sorry to bother you. But you are the best person to turn to for a bit of help and
guidance in my situation right now.
Yesterday I made 4 trades all on USD.
Bought the eur/usd, gbp/usd, sold the usd/cad, usd/chf. And the next morning
all 4 trades went south and I got stopped in all 4 trades and sustained
substantial loss to my trading account.
I had $17,000 and now down to $10,000 I guess I used more leverage on
these trades than my usual.
Anyway lesson learned very harsh about not to over leverage, I will never let
this happen. Now I am just skeptical about putting on any trades no matter
how sure I am. It’s stopping me.
What do you think? I am sure you've been there, so what spotlight can you
flash on me to move on? Any wise words from the wise man??? :)”
And my Response:
“Thank you for your honesty! Being honest with yourself is half of being a good
I can tell you one problem you have straight away. You are taking WAY too
much risk.
Top traders tend to take very low risk per position, usually under 1%. I allow
myself a maximum of 1.6% per FX trade.
So 1.6% of $17,000 is $272. That is the MOST you can risk on any one trade.
And those should be the trades that tick EVERY box. So generally limit your
risk to 1% per trade.
Okay so assuming every one of these four trades were trades that met ALL of
your criteria, your maximum loss would have been $272 x 4 = $1,880 rather
than the $7,000 you lost.
I know it is frustrating because you want to make a lot of money, but traders
who take too much risk inevitably LOSE lots of money.
So now you have $10,000, your MAXIMUM risk per trade can only be $160.
This should enable you to place the trades you like because the risk is nice
and small.
Also one final word of caution, if you have say seven trades all correlated you
still would have too much risk even if each trade only had $160 risk. Because
as you found out last night correlated trades can all go bad at the same time.
Think of the $7,000 you lost last night as tuition fees you have paid the market.
As you say you will never make that same mistake again so in a few years
time when your trading account is large, it will seem like a cheap lesson the
market taught you.”
I have a friend who is an FX broker. He has been a broker for more than a decade
and he has literally hundreds of traders on his client list. He told me once that he
sees dozens of new traders and almost all of them live out the following pattern on a
weekly or monthly basis:
Small gain, small gain, small gain, small gain, small gain, MASSIVE LOSS. And
then he never hears from them again.
The reason is simple. These traders load up with positions and in one big move the
market goes against them and their whole capital is wiped out.
PLEASE heed my advice. Take small amounts of risk.
Cut Your Losses But Let Your Gains Run
Whatever markets you trade and whatever timeframes you use, you will frequently
get your trades wrong. Even if your model tells you there is a 90% chance of
success, the 10% will occur.
Broadly speaking there are two ways to make money trading:
1. Sniping (sometimes called Scalping)
This is where you take high probability trades (70% or above probability that the
particular trade will be successful).
When you are sniping you take profits quickly and regularly.
Day traders are usually Snipers.
2. Trend Trading
Take low probability trades (under 50% probability of success) but where the losses
are small but the profits on the winning trades are large.
In this type of trading, you cut your losses quickly but you let your gains run until
such time as either:
(a) The trend changes; or
(b) Your analysis leads you to change your view.
Medium to long term traders are usually Trend Traders.
I am a trend trader. The only way to make money over a long time period trend
trading is to limit your losses and maximize your gains.
One of the best ways to ensure this is to:
“Cut your losses but let your gains run.”
Too often traders hold on to losing positions hoping they will turn around. Even more
often traders will take a profit and then watch with dismay as the market keeps on
going in the same direction and they miss out on much larger gains. I have been
guilty of both of these mistakes.
There is also a simple way to let your gains run – using a trailing stop loss.
Break Even
I can always tell a novice trader. They are concerned with breaking even on a trade
when the trade is losing.
Critical Principle – Breaking Even is a Terrible Strategy
Breaking Even is a terrible strategy for two reasons:
1. If your entry point was correctly set at the break of a key support/resistance level
it is almost certain that the market will come back and test the support/resistance
level. A mistake most novice traders make is that once they are onside with a trade
they will move their stop loss level to break even. Then the market returns to that
level taking out their stop, and immediately turns around again and goes in the
direction of the trade. It is times like this that the novice trader thinks that “the market
is out to get them”. No, it is simply bad trading.
2. The only one solitary reason why traders want to break even when they are
carrying a losing trade is ego. If you can only break even you can walk away feeling
like you didn‟t lose. So what?
If you are 50 points offside on a trade and you no longer believe in the trade cut it
immediately. Holding on for it to move 50 points in your favor is blind hope and most
of the time it doesn‟t happen. You have to get to the place where you are happy
walking away with a small loss. Because a small loss more often than not turns into
a big loss, and that really hurts.
And practically what does breaking even matter? In a month‟s time you won‟t even
remember your small losses and your profit/loss statement will barely show them.
But a big loss because of your ego will stay in your memory and in your profit/loss
statement all year.
One of my greatest strengths as a trader is that I think of losses as Cancer. The
quicker I remove them the healthier I will be. I don‟t sit around and hope that the
Cancer will heal itself. I operate immediately. Now that doesn‟t mean that every time
I am offside by 20 points I cut my position. But it does mean that before I even enter
a trade I have my stop (exit point) in place. I never move that stop unless it is to
protect profits. Also if I have a trade that does not do what I expect it to and I am
holding a small loss, I will cut the position and wait for something I do believe in.
Technical Analysis
A Technical Trader trades only on price information. In fact a true technical trader
could make money sitting in a windowless room with no information coming in
except price (and in some cases volume) information. So this means no news, no
commentaries, no CNBC, no newspapers, no conversations – nothing except price
Such a trader relies only on Technical Analysis to make buying and selling
decisions. Technical Analysis then is simply the study of price information.
I particularly like this quote from Wikipedia:
“Traders generally share the view that trading in the direction of the trend is
the most effective means to be profitable in financial or commodities markets.
John W. Henry, Larry Hite, Ed Seykota, Richard Dennis, William Eckhardt,
Victor Sperandeo, Michael Marcus and Paul Tudor Jones (some of the socalled Market Wizards in the popular book of the same name by Jack D.
Schwager) have each amassed massive fortunes via the use of technical
analysis and its concepts.”
The most common format for viewing Technical information is in the form of a
picture because human beings process information faster in this format. Thus we
have Charts or Graphs. Most traders now use Candlestick Charts. Candlestick
charts simply show high, low and close prices in an easily visualized way. Candles
that show an advance in the price are green. Candles that show a decline in price
are red (sometimes white and black respectively).
Before the advent of computers, charts had to be drawn by hand and were very time
consuming. Now charts are created in seconds and include huge levels of detail.
As with any series of numbers, price information can be analyzed using all different
types of statistical and mathematical analysis. Some of the most common Technical
Indicators are these:
1. Moving Averages
A moving average simply averages the prices in the previous number of periods you
are interested in. So for example if you overlay a ten day moving average over a
daily chart you will have a line which at any point on that line is the average price of
the preceding ten days. It is a lagging indicator which can show a trend change.
I find myself using Moving Averages more and more. In order to use Moving
Averages as a trend trader I recommend the following:
Set up all four of the following simple Moving Averages on your trading platform:
10 period
20 period
50 period
200 period
Briefly, if all four Moving Average lines are moving in the same direction, and
fanning out (i.e. there is a space between each of them and they are all either
sloping upwards together or sloping downwards together) - this signifies a strong
You can use this strategy to identify trends on all timeframes.
For a more thorough explanation of this strategy please read my blog post on the
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future blog posts.
2. Relative Strength Index (RSI)
The RSI is a measure of the current and historical strength or weakness of a
particular financial instrument. It measure between 0 and 100. In simple terms a
reading above 70 shows extreme strength (sometimes considered “overbought”)
and a reading below 30 shows extreme weakness (sometimes considered
“oversold”). Interestingly William O‟Neil notes in his book “How to Make Money in
Stocks” that a high RSI score for a stock is a bullish sign.
I was fortunate enough to interview J. Welles Wilder the inventor of the Relative
Strength Index. You can read the interview at
3. Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD)
The MACD shows the difference between a fast and a slow exponential moving
average (a type of moving average) of closing prices. Just like a moving average it
is a lagging indicator. But it is used to confirm trend changes and the strength of
price movements.
Note Technical Traders (including me) often use the RSI and MACD to confirm a
price move. If the RSI and MACD move at the same time and in the same direction
of the price move, and make corresponding highs (or lows) with the price, this adds
weight to the expectation of further prices moves in the same direction.
4. Bollinger Bands
Bollinger bands are used to measure the relative distance of the current price to its
standard deviation (statistical distance) and can be compared to a previous standard
deviation from the price at an earlier time.
There are three Bollinger Bands consisting of the middle band which is a simple
moving average, an upper band which is a specified standard deviation above the
middle band, and a lower band which is a specified standard deviation below the
middle band. When the outer bands widen out it indicates a trend is underway, and
when the outer bands tighten in it indicates no trend is underway.
5. Fibonacci
The Fibonacci sequence is a sequence of numbers that continually appear in
nature. It has been reasoned and tested that numbers in the Fibonacci sequence
are part of price information and therefore form support and resistance levels in
financial instruments. Such analysis had become mainstream. It is especially useful
when combined with other technical indicators.
6. Pivot Points
A Pivot Point is simply the average of three numbers:
 The high price
 The low price
 The close price
So a Daily Pivot Point would be the average of the previous day‟s high, low and
closing prices.
The most common Pivot levels are:
Daily Pivot
Weekly Pivot
Monthly Pivot
It is uncanny how often such points provide support or resistance to prices.
Convergence of two or three pivot points at the same level adds significant strength
to the support or resistance.
For an example of how to use Pivot Points in your trading see my blog post here:
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7. Convergence
When there is a convergence of different technical indicators pointing to the same or
a very similar price point, this does indeed provide support or resistance to prices.
So for example a pivot point converging with a Fibonacci level and/or a previous
high price or low price, adds strength to the support or resistance of that price level.
Critics argue that such convergence is simply a self fulfilling prophesy i.e. it
becomes a support or resistance point simply because so many people have
identified it as such.
These are just some of the dozens of technical indicators available on almost all
trading platforms.
Every trader develops favorite technical indicators which are usually based on that
trader‟s personality.
I am a technical trader, in fact I have a rule which is on my wall:
Price is King
I will only Trade Price
Fundamental Analysis
A Fundamental Trader trades only on Fundamental information. Fundamental
information is specific news and information that relates to the underlying financial
instrument that is likely to move prices now or in the future.
So for example if you are analyzing a currency the fundamental information would
 The interest rate on that currency;
 The political climate in that country;
 The international capital flows into and out of that country, for example imports
and exports;
 The economic landscape in that country including Gross Domestic Product
(GDP), growth prospects, unemployment, the saving habits of the citizens;
 The indebtedness of that country;
 And so on…
And for example if you are analyzing a stock, the fundamental information would
The company‟s debt;
The company‟s PE Ratio;
The company‟s past growth in revenue and earnings;
The company‟s dividend policy;
The company‟s products;
The company‟s markets;
Legislation that affects that company;
The state of the industry;
The company‟s management;
The part of the business cycle the company is in.
And so on…
And for example if you are analyzing an agricultural commodity, the fundamental
information would include:
The countries that crop is grown in;
Political situations in those countries;
Legislative (e.g. tax) issues in those countries;
Seasonal factors;
Planting and harvesting statistics;
Important weather factors (e.g. hurricane season for Orange Juice);
Specific international supply and demand for the commodity;
The prospects for the price of the US Dollar (almost all commodities are priced
in US Dollars);
 Global growth and therefore consumption of the commodity;
 And so on…
In my opinion there are only a very few economic analytical geniuses who can hope
to master fundamental analysis well enough to really make a fortune. Of these I
include Warren Buffett, George Soros and Jim Rogers (who started the Quantum
Fund with George Soros).
This is the reason there are so many trend traders, and traders who use primarily
price information to make their trading and investment decisions.
It is my belief that no-one can know every factor that moves market prices, in fact
nowhere near every factor. But whatever forces are at work buying and selling, will
by definition show up in the price.
However, my overall preference is to trade in the direction of BOTH the fundamental
information as I understand it and the technical information. So I spend a lot of my
time trying to understand both the fundamental market forces and the technical
market signals.
Trend Trading
One of the most common trading styles is Trend Trading. This is essentially taking
a position in the market with the predominating trend. So for the specific timeframe
you are interested in, you either join the uptrend or join the downtrend.
Trend trading has been around for hundreds if not thousands of years. It is
sometimes used in conjunction with trading cycles. The belief behind both trend
trading and cycle trading is that prices move in a particular direction for a period of
time before changing direction. A trend can be on any timeframe from a one minute
trend to a multi-decade trend. There are very few people who do not believe that
market prices trend.
You have probably heard the saying:
The trend is your friend.
The trend is your friend, until the end, when it bends!
One of the first people to do research and document trend trading was Charles Dow
who developed the Dow Theory well over 100 years ago.
Since then there have been hundreds of proponents of some type of trend trading
system or another.
As I outlined earlier it partly depends on your personality whether trading the trend is
something you feel comfortable doing.
For me, it perfectly suits my personality.
I like to try to identify trending markets and just like an escalator I like to ride up
when the trend is up and ride down when the trend is down.
It is apparent to me that the strong emotions of fear and greed often push market
prices well above and well below equilibrium levels. Being a trend trader allows me
to ride these prices in either direction without having to figure out what is going on in
the minds of other market players.
Let me give you an example. For argument‟s sake assume the Chinese government
has realized it does not have enough Soybean Oil for the needs of its population. It
cannot afford to tell the market this because that would immediately lift the price of
Soybean Oil. Similarly it cannot simply buy every contract available because this
would also dramatically increase the price in a short time. What is has to do is slowly
and quietly start buying Soybean Oil contracts. So the price of Soybean Oil starts to
rise. As a trend trader I notice this and at a certain point my trading model tells me to
buy contracts. My trading model forces me to hold these contracts as the price
continues to climb. I can only get out if and when the price reverses. Such massive
buying from the world‟s biggest consumer of Soybean Oil is likely to lift and support
Soybean Oil prices for weeks if not months. I might never know what caused the
price rise or I might find out months later, but that is irrelevant. I have joined the
trend, and profited.
Of course trend trading is only one type of trading, and even within trend trading
there are dozens of different systems which use different timeframes and different
entry points.
And some fantastically successful traders do not trend trade at all. One of my
market heroes is Fund Manager Paul Tudor Jones. This is a quote from him:
“I believe the very best money is made at the market turns. Everyone says you get
killed trying to pick tops and bottoms and you make all your money by playing the
trend in the middle. Well for twelve years I have been missing the meat in the middle
but I have made a lot of money at tops and bottoms.”
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Trading Platforms
Just a few years ago all trades had to be placed through a real person, a broker.
Now electronic platform trading is used almost exclusively for trading, especially
in Forex and equities.
A trading platform gives you a feed of price information and allows you to buy or sell
online. The fierce competition for this business has meant that more and more
sophisticated platforms are available and many are free.
Some platforms only allow you to trade Stocks. Some only allow you to trade CFDs
(Contracts for Difference) or spread betting. However almost all platforms now allow
you to trade almost everything from your computer screen:
And so on.
Of course as in everything else in life you get what you pay for. Whilst you do get
live prices for Forex on all platforms, you usually get delayed prices for futures and
indexes and options. Also the charting and the usability of free platforms are
sometimes poor.
I thoroughly recommend trying a number of free platforms before you commit to one.
Also you must phone and email the help desk before you commit. It is critical that
you can speak to someone if there is a problem.
You also need to check the functionality of each platform. Does it include all of the
technical analysis tools you need? Can you easily place stop loss orders?
You also need to aware of the margin requirements for each product you are
trading. This means how much money you need to have in your account in order to
trade a certain size contract. What happens if the position goes against you and you
exceed the entire margin in your account? Are all of your positions automatically
Finally you also need to be aware of the credit risk of the provider of the platform. So
if you put $50,000 into your trading account and the institution becomes insolvent
the next day, you may never see your $50,000 again! Know who your provider is
and what their credit rating is!
Online Trading Platforms now allow you to trade all financial markets from your
computer. They are incredibly powerful and have amazing functionality. If you are a
beginning or intermediate trader a good free platform is all you need. But ensure
that you:
Check your broker has a good help line;
Trial a number of platforms before you commit to one;
Look at the functionality of each platform;
Check the margin requirements of your platform;
Check the credit worthiness of the counterparty you are depositing your funds
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If you enjoyed this book, please add a one or two sentence review here. And if you
do, thank you so much…
Losing Streak
Let‟s not sugar coat this. Losing money trading is painful. Big losses are gut
wrenching losses. Huge losses are turning pale, hand trembling, losing sleep, ache
in the pit of your stomach losses!
But let‟s put losses into perspective:
Losses are simply the cost of doing business as a trader. You are going to have
losses, get used to the idea.
It‟s just like a fruit and vegetable shop that has to throw stock out that has gone off.
You get rid of the losses so you can put your working capital back into a profitable
And let‟s put the size of losses into perspective:
If your losses or your potential losses are keeping you awake at night or causing
negative physical symptoms your position size is too big. Simple, reduce your
position size.
Here is a saying I love and I know personally to be true:
Losses make you stronger, profits make you weaker!
Yes, think about that.
Losses make you stronger, profits make you weaker!
You learn the most in life when you go through challenging times.
You learn the most in trading when you have losses. You learn most about your
trading systems, and your threshold for pain, and your feelings about money when
you lose. So losing can be a very good thing. In fact whenever I take a significant
loss I always view it as tuition fees I have paid the market. I analyze the loss, learn
from it and strive to improve myself and my trading system so that I do not lose
money in the same way again.
A lot of top traders say the same thing, something like “The reason I am so
successful now is that I have made so many trading mistakes and lost money so
many times, that I finally understand what I am doing.”
Losses are an integral part of the trading experience.
If trading was easy there would be no bus drivers (no offence intended to bus
All Super Traders take losses (usually super losses). Here are some examples:
In 1998 George Soros lost $2 billion in Russian Funds when they defaulted.
Julian Robertson was the fund manager of Tiger Management Group, which had
$23 billion at its peak and $6 billion when it was rolled up (i.e. it lost $17 billion over
that period). He lost more than $1b of his own money.
Richard Dennis (Market Wizard) ran into a losing streak:
In 1987 and 1988, when he was trading as much as $159 million, his net loss after
fees was $60 million. And in 1992, when his equity climbed as high as $86 million,
he lost $48 million.
Mark Cook (Market Wizard) starting trading with a few thousand dollars and by
selling options built it up to $165,000 in a few months. Within one month he lost over
$500,000; the $165,000 plus $350,000 he didn‟t have. Rather than declare
bankruptcy he worked two full time jobs for five years to get back to even.
Jesse Livermore who made $100m by short selling the 1929 crash was declared
bankrupt in 1934! How do you lose $100m in five years???
Marty Schwartz (Market Wizard) has this to say in his classic book “Pit Bull”:
“Every trader faces it. Only the winners know how to handle it. The dreaded losing
streak rears its head every so often and attacks every great trader. It eats away at
your judgment; it saps your confidence. Sometimes it can take you so low that you
think you’ll never get out. You’re sure that something has gone wrong, that you’ve
lost your touch, that you’ll never be a winner again. When you’re in the middle of it,
you think it is never going to end, but mostly, your judgment and rhythm are off and
what you have to do is stop and regain your composure.”
My Experience
In my worst period of trading many years ago I had an unbelievable losing streak. I
lost money every month (except two small monthly gains) for 16 months in a row
and lost 57.8% of my capital. That is easy to write, it is easy to read but it is hell to
live through. It wasn‟t even the money that was the worst thing. The worst thing is
that I was woefully unsuccessful in an area that I thought (and other people thought)
I was very successful in. That was a huge blow to my pride. In my upcoming book
“Creating the Perfect Trade” I go through it in detail. But it was a LOT of money. It
was my “going broke” trade (a “going broke” trade is a common occurrence among
successful traders. It is the trading period after which they finally realize the
implications of risk).
What can we conclude?
If you are going to trade you are going to have losses.
If you are going to trade big you are going to lose big.
If you are going to trade other people‟s money you are going to lose other people‟s
You therefore need to develop strategies for:
 Money management in losing periods;
 Dealing with the stress of losing money;
 Dealing with the loss of confidence in yourself and your trading system.
As a matter of interest here is a list of over 40 people who have lost more than
US$100m trading:
Trading Legends
In a way, success in any venture is simple. Find someone who is among the best in
the world at what you want to be good at and model them.
If you want to be a great golfer, model Tiger Wood‟s golf swing.
If you want to be a great Basketball player, copy Kobe Bryant.
If you want to be a great painter, study Monet.
If you want to be a great composer, study Beethoven.
Exactly the same is true in trading. Top traders are at the top because they followed
a particular path. If you want to be a top trader you need to study their habits, their
lives and their strategies. Learn from their mistakes and pick up tips and advice from
Of all the traders I know, no-one has anywhere close to the resource library I have. I
have dozens of trading books, documentaries, CDs, DVDs, articles and interviews
on successful super-traders. I went through a period when I read a trading book
every week. Even now I am always either reading or re-reading a trading book.
In 2008 I made over $100,000 in a two month period and it was SOLEY due to
reading two books, one on trading commodities and one on the Turtle Trading
System (I follow a personally modified version of this system).
For a list of trading books I recommend, please see section above “How to Start
Here are a few of the Super Traders that you can read about, study and emulate.
Each link is clickable:
Jesse Livermore
Paul Tudor Jones
Bruce Kovner
Ed Seykota
Larry Hite
William O‟Neill
Marty Schwartz
Jim Rogers
Martin Zweig
Warren Buffett
Mark D Cook
Richard Dennis
Monroe Trout
Barton Biggs
Stanley Druckenmiller
George Soros
Mark Ritchie
Welles Wilder
Julian Robertson
I have developed a personal mentoring program which is very good value “Make
Money Trading”.
If you are interested in finding out more, please email me at:
[email protected]
God and Trading
A number of people have asked me about my relationship with God and its impact
on my trading. For those who are interested, these are my views:
Firstly God is not my “trade picker”. By this I mean that I do not seek divine guidance
before I enter a trade and I do not expect God to give me any specific guidance on
taking trades.
However, my spiritual life interweaves everything else I do and therefore is part of
my trading activity.
The bible makes it clear that we are able to and in fact should ask God for wisdom:
Proverbs 2 v 6:
For the Lord Gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and
James 1 v 5
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all
without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
So in practical terms one of the things I do in my work life is ask God for wisdom. I
especially ask for wisdom for a general understanding of the world as it relates to
If I was a teacher I would ask God‟s wisdom to teach, if I was a plumber I would ask
for practical wisdom, if I owned a corner shop I would ask for wisdom in retailing etc.
I believe it is the responsibility of every Christian to ask for wisdom in their vocation
so that they can do the best job, but also to be able to build God‟s kingdom and
make the world a better place at the same time.
One of the most successful fund managers of the 20th Century Sir John Templeton
summarised his views on God and investing and prayer in his book “The Templeton
Plan” as follows:
At Templeton, all of the directors’ and shareholders’ meetings open with
prayer. But prayer is never used as an aid in making specific stock selections.
“That would be a gross misinterpretation of God’s methods,” Templeton says.
“What we do pray for is wisdom. We pray that the decisions we make today
will be wise decisions and that our talks about different stocks will be wise
talks. Of course our discussions and decisions are fallible and sometimes
flawed. No one should expect that, just because he begins with prayer, every
decision he makes is going to be profitable. However I do believe that, if you
pray, you will make fewer stupid mistakes.”
Another practical step is to commit my day to God at the beginning of every day. I
start my day by reading the bible and praying – specifically to commit my day to the
It is my belief that God has given me an ability to manage and make money. I treat
this as a gift God has given me which is the underlying reason for my trading. I
believe one of my purposes on earth is to raise money to further the Kingdom of
God. Essentially this simply means that I should use a large part of the money I
make to do things that I believe God would want me to do. Put another way, I have
to think about what God would do with the money if He was in my shoes. Examples
are; feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, supporting missionaries,
supporting churches and those in ministry.
It is a biblical principal to give away 10% of what you earn. It is my strong opinion
that this is a universal principal much like the law of gravity. What I mean is that the
law of gravity applies to all people, regardless of whether they even believe in the
law of gravity. The same is true of giving. Regardless of your relationship with God
and even your belief in God, if you give at least 10% of your income away every
year, God will bless you financially.
We even recognise this in our secular society with sayings like “What goes around
comes around” and “That will give you good Karma”.
Here is what the bible says about giving 10% (a tithe) of your income every year:
Malachi 3 v 10
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.
Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the
floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have
room enough for it.”
On another subject I do think it is okay to ask God to bless my business and my
trading, and so I do ask for His blessing. However I like Bono‟s (from U2) quote:
“I met a wise man once who taught me that instead of asking God’s blessing
on what I was doing, to find things that God was already blessing and get
involved in that.”
In summary, my relationship with God gives me my reason for trading in the first
place; i.e. to raise money to further His kingdom. I also believe that God gives me
wisdom in every area of my life if I ask for it. Further it is a universal principal that if
you give generously, God will bless you financially. Finally God loves to bless us if
we follow Him and do his will on earth. Whatever your pursuits and occupation,
these principles hold true.
Solomon Wealth Fund
I have been trading my own funds and a small number of clients‟ funds full time
since January 2007. I have decided to start a fund in 2015.
My annual average return over the period 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2014
was 35.65%.
Starting a fund is for me, the next logical step, to manage other people‟s money. In
order to learn about fund management I started talking to the most successful
people I could find in the industry. I have met with a number of very successful fund
managers including one manager with over $20 billion under management and one
with over $1.5 billion under management. Incidentally both started with nothing and
one is a billionaire and the other is worth $400m.
My most interesting discovery is that investors do not want outsized returns! The
fund with $1.5 billion under management has averaged a return of 12% per annum
since inception! Believe it or not if you can consistently return 12 to 15% year after
year with very low volatility, investors will flock to you.
However it does take time. This fund started with nothing, finally after a few years
managed to attract $10m of investor funds and three years later managed to double
investor funds to $20m. Seven years later funds were at $1.5 billion. I heard similar
stories from three different fund managers.
Needless to say a light went off in my head when I heard these stories! Investors
would rather I consistently delivered 15% returns with very low volatility (and
therefore very low risk) than 100% return with the huge volatility I have been trading
I have therefore decided to progressively lower the volatility and returns of the model
I am using so that the fund is more attractive to investors. Fortunately making the
model less volatile is fairly simple because I can simply reduce leverage and reduce
the position sizing, while still taking the entry and exits signals generated by the
As well as starting the fund, I have also decided to allow investors to use managed
accounts. This means that an investor can keep their money in their own account
and I am simply given the ability to enter and exit trades on their behalf. In the
current climate with frauds and scandals in the news, this gives investors full
confidence because the funds are always in their name and under their control.
You are welcome to visit the website of the fund but you are required to read the
Questions and Answers
I have been asked a lot of questions by beginning traders over the last few years.
Here are their questions and my answers:
Question 1:
Do you trade mainly on fundamentals or technical signals?
I used to always form my fundamental view first, and then wait for confirming price
action. However my experiences in 2008 have taught me that my fundamental view
can be and often is completely wrong! It is simply not possible to know even a tiny
fraction of all of the fundamental market information, let alone know what each
individual trader is thinking and doing. No-one foresaw the massive deleveraging of
assets during 2008 for example. From now on I am only going to trade the
technically i.e. on price action. I even have written on my wall:
Price is King
I will only trade price.
The second thing to say is that I ALWAYS calculate the dollar amount of my risk
before I enter a trade, and I always have a stop loss. The dollar amount of the risk
relates to the total size of my equity.
I generally do not risk more than 1% of my total equity (all the money I have set
aside to trade with) on my first entry of my trade. So for example if my personal
trading equity is currently $350,000, on my first entry I will risk less than $3,500 on
my first trade.
Question 2: How do you determine your entry, exit as well as Stop Loss points
for FX trades?
I use chart analysis. I especially like new highs, even better if they are new 20 day
highs or new 55 day highs.
I also like to see (on a daily chart) a number of higher highs and higher lows if I am
going to buy. And of course the opposite if I am going to sell.
Question 3: I gather that you add onto winning positions; what amounts do
you normally do at a time and when do you add position?
I will usually start with a single entry that risks less than 1% of my total equity, and
then I will add to that position ONLY when the first position is significantly in profit.
Usually this is at a level where my stop loss on the second position is at or above
the entry of the first position. I will generally add until I have four positions. I will also
generally lift my stop loss on earlier positions as I add new positions. This keeps the
risk low.
Questions 4: How do you work out your trailing stops?
See above.
Question 5: How do you decide whether you would use Spot FX or FX Options
for your trade?
I have found that Options only really work well when there is a very fast moving
market, or you anticipate a big move. Also, I only buy options when historical
volatility is low because this means the option is relatively cheap and will increase in
value if volatility goes up.
Question 6: When buying an option, what sort of Strike Prices or period will
you be looking at?
I personally buy 2-3 months out, and far enough out of the money so the option is
relatively cheap. But close enough to the money that if I am right as to the
movement in the market, the strike price will be reached approximately one third of
the way through the option period.
Questions 7: Considering time decay on options, when do you cut your loss
for an option?
If after two weeks it is not profitable, I am clearly wrong (at least on the timing) and I
get out. I may not even wait that long. This is safest because the time decay is the
slowest in the early part of the option period.
Question 8: Assuming the first option is in your favour; when do you add
options (you did mention doubling of the value of the first) and if so, what will
be the strike prices and period for new ones?
That depends on how quickly the first one doubled. As a general rule I will again
look for the same period (e.g. two months) and the same distance from the money
as the original option.
Question 9: What do you look for as a sign of a trending market?
I look for a number of patterns or price action signals.
Note: These examples are of an upward trending market:
1. A new 20 day high or a new 55 day high;
2. An all time high or a multi-month high or a multi-year high;
3. A number of higher highs and higher lows over a number of weeks using
a daily price chart (candlesticks). Each high must be higher than the
previous one and each low much be higher than the previous one;
4. Bollinger bands; where the bands are starting to splay outwards after a
narrow channel has formed;
5. A clear channel in a candlestick pattern that shows an upward trend that
does not break out of the channel;
6. A strong MACD signal in the direction I am taking.
7. A strong RSI signal in the direction I am taking.
Question 10: When you are looking for 20 and 55 day highs do you judge
these off a daily line chart or a Candlestick?
Candlestick as it is much more accurate.
Question 11: How do you decide if you have missed the entry point? i.e. are
you concerned about intraday movements? If so how do they impact your
trading or do you buy at the level of that 20 / 55 day high exactly? Can the
market go past and come back intraday and you still make the trade?
Generally I put my order in one tick or one point above the 20 day high so I get hit
as it goes through. If it goes through and comes back I would put my buy order in
above the high that it just made, to ensure I am getting it on the way up. If I miss the
market by quite a bit I will probably wait for the 55 day high or if there is a period of
consolidation, wait for it to break out of that and enter then.
Question 12: Do you for example see that AUD/NZD is trending up and get
your broker to let you know when that point/high is reached and decide on
whether to take the trade then? As I have been keen on long AUD/NZD but I
have missed what I would see as a good entry point.
I never get my broker to tell me anything! I really only use my broker to execute
trades. In other words it is me who sees the price go to a point I like and it is me
who initiates the trade. If you have missed an entry point you are better off waiting
for another opportunity.
Questions 13: Starting out my capital is very small. Do you have any advice as
it seems that even a little volatility in a given market it’s very easy to get
stopped out trying to only risk 1-3 % of your capital per trade? I guess it’s a
matter of being very patient and looking for the Beautiful trades as you put it.
Or do you have to accept more risk initially? Or am I better to wait and just
build up more capital so that trading risking less is easier?
My view is that you should build good habits now while your equity is small. That
way the mistakes you are going to make will be the cheapest. So yes, only risk 1-2%
of your equity on each trade. If your stops are too tight leading you to getting
stopped out too often, your position size is too big. Use a trading platform to trade
smaller sizes even $10,000 trades. Trading $10,000 with at a 2% risk only allows a
$200 loss and of course a 2% stop loss position should be plenty for Forex.
Question 14: What are your thoughts on long AUD/JPY still looks positive to
me. What else do you like in the market at the moment that you are following?
Actually I have to be careful because I am not licensed to give specific advice on
trades and there are legal issues if I do.
Question 15: What are your main strengths as a trader?
I think my main strength is that I viciously cut losing positions. I think of them as a
cancer. The quicker I get rid of them the healthier I will be.
Add to that, if I am unsure of a position I immediately cut it as well. If all you have left
is hope, get out and put the money into something you believe in, or wait until a
trade comes up that you really believe in.
ALSO, if you are trend trading as I have detailed above you MUST expect to take
small losses on approximately 7 out of every 10 trades on average. The 3 winners
will cover your losses and give you big profits. So another of my strengths is that I
am happy to take multiple small losses in a row while I am waiting for the big winner.
Finally, sometimes the best trading decision you can make is to do nothing. It is far
better to sit on the sidelines and wait for a BEAUTIFUL trade, than to try to chase a
market that is not working.
My 2007 Trading Diary
For illustration purposes here is a summary of my trades for the 2007 calendar year:
Total Number of Trades for the Year:
Number of Profitable Trades:
Number of Losing Trades:
Total Net Profit for the year:
(net of brokerage and carry costs)
This total profit was made up of the following:
Net Profits from Currency Trades: $241,979
Net Profits from Futures: $8,599
Net Losses from Precious Metals: -$2,471
Net Losses from Equities: - $76,837
Total: $171,270
1. The first point is that I had 39% more losing trades than winning trades. The
reason I was nevertheless profitable for the year is that I cut my losing
positions quickly and let my winning positions run. In fact I had two hugely
profitable trades during the year. One lasted a few weeks and the other lasted
under two weeks. Essentially I made all of my profits from the year on those
two currency trades. Incidentally both of these resulted from jumping on an
already existing trend and staying with it until it turned.
2. The second thing that sticks out is that I made a huge profit in Currencies and
a large loss in Equities. This is partly because I was not disciplined enough in
keeping my equity losses small, and partly because when I finally decided to
start buying equities, the market turned from being a bull market to being a
bear market. I should have been more aware of this and I therefore need to be
more cautious going forward when trading equities.
3. Third, I probably over-traded, which means that I entered too many trades
rather than simply waiting for a really good trade. 122 trades is a lot in a year,
especially as I took nine weeks family vacation in 2007. This means that I
entered 122 trades in my 43 trading weeks. This is an average of over 2.8
trades per week. Given that I trade in trends that last weeks and months, this
is too many trades. I needed to be patient and wait for the right trades.
My Two Most Profitable Trades
1. Sold the US Dollar against the Canadian Dollar. Total Profit: $100,282
I started this trade with an option over $500,000 that cost me just $2,492.
Once that option had doubled in value, I used the paper profits to buy another
option. I continued to do this until the market turned. I then sold all of the
options and took my profit.
2. Sold the New Zealand Dollar against the Japanese Yen. Total Profit: $156,615
I started this trade with an option over $400,000 that cost me just $6,968.
Using the same strategy as above, once that option had doubled in value, I
used the paper profits to buy another option. I continued to do this until I
became cautious that the market had moved too far too fast. I then sold all of
the options and took my profit.
Starting small and adding to winning positions is called “scaling in” to positions. The
advantage is that if the trade does not go your way, you only take a small loss.
Interestingly my two biggest losses occurred when I did not scale in to a position,
rather I took a large initial position that turned against me.
My Two Biggest Losses
1. Bought the Canadian Dollar against the Japanese Yen. Total Loss: ($41,372)
I started this trade with an option over CAD$35,000,000 that cost me a
monstrous $123,996, plus brokerage of $3,846 on each side of the
transaction. The position started going badly from the start and 21 days later I
finally sold out and took my loss.
I should not have taken such a huge first position and I should have cut my
losses a lot sooner.
2. Sold the US Dollar against the Japanese Yen. Total Loss: ($56,459)
I started this trade with an option over US$7,800,000 that cost me a whopping
$60,895. Once again, the position started going badly from the start and ten
days later I made a foolish mistake and added to my losing position by taking
another option over $15,000,000 that cost me an additional $15,517.
What I should have done was cut my losses early and I should NEVER have
added to my losing position – lesson learned.
Both of these losses occurred after I had made big gains and I was flush with cash. I
have learned that the most dangerous time for trading is immediately after a large
winning period.
My 2008 Trading Diary
Total Gain: $315,490
This total profit was made up of the following:
Net Profits from Currency Trades: $180,959
Net Profits from Agricultural Commodities: $130,848
Net Profits from NZ Bank Bill Futures: $7,715
Net Losses from Precious Metals: -$7,601
Net Losses from Equities: -$18,277
Net Losses from Crude Oil Futures: -$21,304
1. The first point is that I had 21% more losing trades than winning trades (in
2007 it was 39% more losers than winner!). Once again the reason I was
nevertheless profitable for the year is that I cut my losing positions quickly and
let my winning positions run.
In 2008 I had four significantly profitable trades. Two lasted a few weeks each
and the other two were short trades. Essentially I made all of my profits from
the year on these four trades:
One series of Agricultural Commodity Trades;
One NZD AUD Currency Trade; and
One series of Bank Bill Trades; and
One short USD trade.
2. What sticks out is that I made a huge profit in Agricultural Commodities which I
have never really traded seriously before this year. I owe all of these profits to
reading two books: “Hot Commodities” by Jim Rogers, and “Way of the Turtle”
by Curtis Faith. It just shows me how important it is to read, read, read!
3. Once again I had a significant loss in equities. This is an area I really had to
improve on because it had been a losing category for me for two years.
My Four Most Profitable Trades
1. Sold the USD dollar against the Euro, Sterling and the Swiss Franc
Total Profit: $135,872
This was the trade that took just five working days in December 2008. The
best thing about this trade is that the TOTAL risk on the trade was $2,775. Yes
just two thousand seven hundred and seventy five dollars. The reason the risk
was so low is that I only started with one position long 100,000 Euro vs USD. I
put my stop loss in so that my maximum loss was only $2,775. When that
position was profitable I locked in the profit by raising my stop loss and then I
took another position. I continued to do this until I had many hundreds of
thousands of dollars worth of positions, all protected by trailing stop losses.
NOTE CAREFULLY this was one of the best of all of the trades available in
2008. The USD dollar fell 17 big figures (that is 1700 points) in five trading
days. That is almost unprecedented and falls of that magnitude only happen a
few times in a decade, so do not think you are going to go out tomorrow and
risk $2,775 to make $135,000.
2. Bought Agricultural Commodity Futures
Total Profit: $122,921
I used a staggered approach so that I started small and increased my
exposure as the price rose. I traded a number of these commodities
concurrently during February and March and did especially well with Cotton,
Soybean Oil, Cocoa, and Soybeans (in that order).
3. Sold the New Zealand Dollar against the Australian Dollar
Total Profit: $93,344
I started this trade with a physical (margin trade) position of $400,000. When it
became strongly profitable I added a second $400,000 position. When that
position it became strongly profitable I added a third $600,000 position. Then
when that position was also profitable, I sold all three physical positions and
put all of the profits into buying an option over $3m. That option cost me
NZ$25,170. Using the same strategy as 2007, once that option had doubled in
value, I used the paper profits to buy another option, this time over $2m. I did
this one more time and purchased a third option over $5m. At this stage I had
options over NZ$10 million. I sold all of my options when it looked like the
market had turned, and took my profits.
However, after this trade was completed I analysed what would have
happened if I had just kept my $1.2m in the physical (cash) position and not
sold this to buy options. As it turned out I would have been better off if I had
kept the physical positions. The reason for this is that this currency pair moved
slowly. Where currencies move slowly it is better to have a physical position
because the time value of the option erodes faster than the currencies are
moving. Also there is usually a big spread between the price of buying and
selling the option and you need to make up that spread during the time of the
As I said in the 2007 summary; currency options are best in fast moving
markets but not so good in slow markets.
4. Bought New Zealand Bank Bill Futures
Total Profit: $45,676
This is a good example of a profitable trade that was easy to see and was very
likely to be profitable. Unfortunately it is not a trade that is likely to be
repeatable in the near future. Bank Bill Futures are primarily valued in relation
to the expectation of the future Reserve Bank Official Cash Rate (OCR). At the
time I traded these, the Bank Bills were priced such that a cut in interest rates
was not expected until late 2008 or early 2009. It was my strong conviction
that the Reserve Bank would have to cut interest rates earlier than that. Bank
Bill Futures rise in price as expectations of an interest rate cut increase. It was
relatively straight forward to hold these futures over market announcements
(which were usually bad) and take profit after the announcement.
Unfortunately the opportunity has now gone, but there will be a time in the
future when the market is mispricing interest rate policy, and I look forward to
My Two Biggest Losses
Similar to last year my two biggest losses occurred when I took large up-front
positions rather than scaling in to positions. When am I going to learn? Answer:
now! I have strict rules against this practice now.
1. Sold $1.5m NZ$ against Japanese Yen AND sold $1.5m US$ against the
Japanese Yen.
Total Loss: $44,594
I started this trade with $500,000 positions in each currency pair and I quickly
added two more $500,000 positions in each. This was way too much to have
on this trade. Even though I scaled in only when the previous positions were in
profit, and I used stop loss orders, when the trade turned around I went from a
profit of $20,349 to a loss of $44,594 in one night! So in one night I lost
$64,943 which is a ridiculously high level of risk when my starting equity for
the year was $150,000. Of course once again it occurred after I had made big
gains elsewhere. However it is critical that I limit my potential losses to 4% of
my equity on any one instrument. This is also now a rule!
2. Long Crude Oil.
Total Loss: $26,488
I made this trade and took this loss in under six hours – ouch! My position
size was too big and my stop loss was at a place where everyone else had
their stop loss. Consequently I had a slippage loss of over US$10,000. I also
(knowingly) traded through the weekly crude oil inventory news release which
caused the big sell off and therefore the slippage. Also I was “playing the
range” rather than staying with the trend. In other words I got bored waiting for
a good trending trade and decided to try to buy it at a low point in the trading
range, hoping to sell it higher in the trading range. I am sure there are a lot of
traders who are good at trading the range. However, I am not one of them! I
should have been patient and traded what I am good at – trading the trend.
Trade I Missed
There is one glaring trade I should have taken that would have increased my
profitability by at least $100,000.
I watch around 15 futures contracts and when I get a buy signal I must buy each
time and every time. Unfortunately I was too busy in February trading my agricultural
commodities to look at Heating Oil. The buy signal in Heating Oil Futures was given
in early February and the contract climbed strongly until the end of May. Had I taken
it, the trade would have been my second most profitable of the year. The lesson
here is that I need to keep looking at all of the signals on all of the commodities I
trade. I also need to look for a second entry point if I miss the first entry point. If I
had entered in March I still would still have taken 75% of the profit from the trade.
The Perfect Trade
Yes there really is such a thing as the Perfect Trade.
I am not going to go into detail here, but my upcoming book is centered on Creating
the Perfect Trade. In the book I have a whole chapter specifically detailing how to
create the perfect trade.
The perfect trade can be created using a decision flow chart and by adhering to a
My upcoming book “Creating the Perfect Trade” outlines both.
Gift This Book
Please gift this Book to friends, colleagues and fellow traders via Amazon.
Go here to gift it now. Simply click on the book title then click on the “Give as a Gift”
button. Click here:
The Main Event
I‟ll be honest, the advice, principles and strategies in this book are just the
The Main Event is my upcoming book “Creating the Perfect Trade”.
In that book I go into much more detail and cover a number of new topics that are
key to successful trading. The book will help you avoid many common mistakes and
help you make the right trading choices.
You can register for the launch of my book here. You are not committing to anything,
you are simply expressing your interest:
I hope you do because I want to make your trading successful and enjoyable.
Happy Trading,
Oli Hille
PS Here is the cover of my upcoming book:
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