Tag Archives: Trade management

Price action based + System trading Webinar

Introduction

As many of you know, i have been trading just the price (a.k.a price action trading) for the last 14+ years and during this lockdown, i have been getting requests from all over the globe for conducting online webinar on how I do price action trading in a mechanical way (absolutely no discretion involved).

In this one day webinar, i would be covering Structural pivots(price action concept i trade for the last 12 years now),Positional/Intraday trading (any underlying instrument that moves), Compounding a small account, Backtesting, Money management and psychology

Webinar Agenda and participants feedback

Please click on One day webinar Agenda for complete details on agenda.

Please click on Past workshop participants feedback

Fees and Timings

Date: June 07, 2020 (Sunday)

Fees : Rs.10000/person (Ten thousands)

Webinar Timings : 9:30AM – 5:30PM

Morning break – 11:00AM to 11:15AM
Lunch Break: 01:00PM to 02:00PM
Evening break: 04:00 to 04:15PM

Payment details

To confirm your registration, please pay Rs.10000 to the below mentioned Instamojo ID (all kinds of payments like Bank transfer, Credit/Debit cards, UPI, Wallets are accepted) – If you use Instamojo, there will be an extra small 3% convenience fee charged by Instamojo

https://www.instamojo.com/@marketswithmadan

or

Pay to marketswithmadan@axisbank UPI ID

Kindly mention “June 7th 2020 Webinar’ in ‘Purpose of payment’ and send the screenshot of the payment window along with your name to marketswithmadan@gmail.com for further reconciliation and registration process.

Location

Online

Additional perks of attending the webinar

Telegram support group for the attendees (7 days duration) to clear out workshop related doubts via Daily videos.

Important points before making the payment

1. Government ID proof(Driving license, PAN or Aadhaar) of your current country of residence is **MANDATORY** for registering for the webinar. If you are not willing to share ID, please dont pay for the webinar as you will not be allowed to participate in the webinar (Money will be refunded back to you within 3 days after your payment)

A google registration form will be sent after your payment and Govt ID can be uploaded in the form.

2. Access to the webinar recording + DailyVideos will be granted for 7 days (On June 14th 2020, all video access will be revoked).

3. Irrespective of the reason, no refund will be given for not showing up and if there is a technical snag during the webinar, we will use another weekend to compensate the lost time.

4. I might conduct 2 days physical workshops in the future (after Covid19 situation eases) and if you have attended this 1 day webinar, you can join the 2 days workshop by just paying the differential amount.

Contact details

If you have further questions, please email me at marketswithmadan@gmail.com or whatsapp at 9677036689

Get comfortable being wrong

ComfortZone

Human nature is to be right all the time. Nobody likes to be wrong even in petty/useless arguments. This particular thought process is one of the primary reasons for many opting for methods that shows high winning percentage with abysmal Risk:Reward ratio. Many of the world’s renowned traders are trend followers and trend following usually delivers something that human brain is not used to – More losers than winners with superior Risk:Reward ratio.

Introduction

In trend following type of trading, the usual combination is low winning percentage with high Risk:Reward. This requires a trader to get comfortable with the fact that we will most likely be wrong more often than we are right.

That concept is tough for a lot of traders,as many of us believe that to be profitable we need to be right more than we are wrong. but nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, for scalping that is partially true, but for swing trading, with the proper risk to reward ratio, we can be profitable even if we are wrong more than we are right.

We just need to have the patience to wait for a trade to come, and also patience to wait for a trade to work.

Here is a blogpost on patience

Deliberate practice and patience

Trend following and surfing

Unlike surfing, we don’t get the luxury of knowing which direction the WAVE we are on is headed, but trust me, it is going somewhere and is not going to sit around in any one place for very long. This is the one and only guarantee in stock markets 😀

We may spend days watching for a sequence of events, enter a trade and get stopped out in minutes. But if we are a trend follower, we have to just get back up and start watching again. That is tough to swallow for traders who enjoy the adrenaline of a fast-paced trading environment

Trading and action

If a trader cannot wait and always in need of action, trend following will never work for him. For that matter, any kind of trading would be difficult.

Many traders love the frequent adrenaline rushes that come with trading. And, the more frequently they trade, the more they feel that they are hitting the fast forward button on their way to riches.

By the way, most successful traders and investors are systematic. Systematic sounds technical or quantitative but that’s far from the truth. All it means is that there is a process to guide proper decision making. When A happens they do Y, when B happens they do Z. Warren Buffett and Benjamin Graham has a very systematic process in searching for their stocks. Ray Dalio from Bridgewaters Associates has a very systematic fundamental approach to capital markets.

Trading and drudgery

Many a times, people ask this question to me. It always pops up in different ways –

Should i pursue the dream of becoming a successful/consistently profitable trader in spite of all these drudgery?

I remember a movie honcho once said that when people asked him if they should continue to pursue their dreams of movie stardom, he would always tell them ‘NO’. His reasoning was simple – no one destined for success would be dissuaded by him anyway, nor for that matter would they even have asked the question in the first place.

It’s that solitary “march to your own drummer” mentality that mark those ordained for success 🙂

Trading and negativity

So, to be effective in trading (and anything in life), kindly distance yourself from negative energy – no matter where it comes from. Let negative thoughts roll over like water. Negative thoughts, emotions, energy is destructive multiplier. It kills creative uni-directional thinking. Detach yourself from things, other people and immerse yourself in the price. Lose sense of time and space.

Think of an activity that you enjoy, we lose sense of time and space when we get involved right? So, let me ask this question then –

Why does trading have to be stressful, painful, edgy all the time?

Get comfortable being wrong and detach from negativity

Happy trading all !!

Twitter poll on expectancy

Trading Journal

I had put a poll on twitter yesterday with options to choose from various combinations of Winrate and Risk:Reward(RR)

Here is the twitter link:

44% of the voters chose Option 4, 32% of the voters chose Option1, followed by Option 2 and Option3 respectively.

Before getting into the groove of things, I would like to elucidate a bit about ‘Expectancy’ of a system. This term was coined by Van Tharp and here it is:

Expectancy = (Win rate x Average winner) – (Loss rate x Average loser)

If we insert this formula with the numbers given in the poll, We get the following –

Expectancy of System 1 = (0.5×2.2) – (0.5×1) = 1.1 – 0.5 = 0.6

Expectancy of System 2 = (0.7×1.2) – (0.3×1) = 0.84 – 0.3 = 0.54

Expectancy of System 3 (I meant to give the RR of system 3 as 1:0.8 but gave it as 0.8:1 – we will stick to what was given in the poll)
= (0.8×1) – (0.2×0.8) = 0.8 – 0.16 = 0.64

Expectancy of System 4 = (0.35×4) – (0.65×1) = 0.75

So, what is this expectancy? Expectancy is how much one can expect to make on the average over many trades. Expectancy is best stated in terms of how much you can make per rupee you risk. Tharp talks in terms of R-multiples but let us just focus on it in layman terms.

If someone risks 1% per trade and their system expectancy is 0.5, it just means that over a large sample of trades, he is expected to make 0.5% (1% x 0.5) per trade. So, if he has 100 trades in a year, he is expected to make (100×0.5%) 50% that year.

Surface level analysis of the poll results

1. It is quite obvious from the above calculation that higher the expectancy, greater is your chances of making money in the markets. So, as a new trader, it is pretty easy to select the option # 4 from the choices. No brainer there.

2. Few people pointed out that Option 1 is better as it is easy on psychology of the trader. It is true to an extent but if one is striving for better risk adjusted returns, option 4 is the obvious choice again (especially for a pure trend follower). Different people, different choices 😊

3. Some people take profits on the way and they would have naturally gravitate towards a better winrate system with lesser R:R. The traders who trail profits will almost always have a lower WR but better RR system in hand.

4. As I always advocate that there are various ways to skin the cat, nothing is right or wrong here. We just need to pick what is comfortable for us. But, if one has to analyse logically, it is option 4. On a side note, one comment mentioned that we need to find system that have a expectancy like the choices mentioned 😊. Fair enough !!

5. The traders who are new to the market gets enamored by the high winrate for a very simple reason – typically, they don’t want to take losses (Forget about newcomers – even the experienced lot do not like to take losses). Their mind can never get around in accepting the losses. So, they naturally gravitate towards high winrate as high WR typically means more number of winners than losers. But, what they forget is the other side of the coin – the Risk:Reward. They lose more when they lose and win less when they win. This has many statistical implications. We will see that in detail in the next section of this post.

6. Winrate and Risk:Reward should be seen together. They are like peas and carrots, day and night – always go together. This is why I like this expectancy as it nicely clubs both the parameters to give a logical view of the system in hand.

7. Few people have voted for option 3 as they feel high winrate can give them the psychological comfort – again, this is just another way of telling that ‘I don’t want to take losses’. As some great trader mentioned. ‘avoiding losses in trading is like you want to breathe in but don’t want to breathe out’. But if it works for you, great !!

In-depth analysis of the poll

1. Most of the stock market strategies employ trend following concept and the pure essence of trend following is to let the profits run. So, the detailed analysis is based on that assumption.

2. First let us dissect what High Winrate really means. Typically, a high WR system will have low Risk:Reward (compare to a low WR with same expectancy). This is a given. But, this also means that the average loser of a high WR system is usually larger than a low WR system(assuming the timeframe and expectancy are the same). In a trend following system, high WR is usually achieved by giving so much room for the market to catch the trend. Statistically, bigger SL will have a huge drawdown potential (am talking about maximum drawdown) and if the max DD is high, it is very difficult to proceed with the system for two important reasons –

a) The recovery factor will be high – meaning the number of trades it takes to get back to equity high(again) will be more and the problem exasperates if someone is trading higher timeframe. People grossly underestimate time drawdown – but it is a different topic altogether

b) Compounding can be a big problem for a system with larger max DD for obvious reasons

3. When a system has a bigger SL (again assumption is that we are talking about pure trend following systems with trailing stoplosses) like a moving average crossover system, the time the market spends between the entry point and stoploss is huge. This has so many psychological ramifications –

a) It can create havoc to our mind as it will feel that we are always in loss (even though it is not realized). One can draw analogy with an investor who enters a stock and the stock is underwater for 2-3 years. It is a very tough phase for that investor if he is still holding it.

b) It can force a trader to make mistakes (not following the plan) and just letting the emotions take the driver seat (how many of us have heard this ‘ I felt uncomfortable in the trade and got out but only to see the market moving in my favor again’). So, wider SL is a fertile ground for all these mishaps in the thought process.

On the other hand,if WR is less with smaller average losses, it will diminish the active trade time in grey area (between entry and SL) and give us a big advantage mentally.

4. Lesser WR and higher RR generally means smaller losses (compared to high WR and low RR/same expectancy system) and consequently, a trader can be well equipped for the proverbial series of losses in a row. One can place large number of bets or trades before we reach out max limit. So taking randomness into account, we give ourselves a fair chance to be in the game. Not to mention, these smaller SLs will also cap the maximum DD and will keep it nicely in control.

The below picture shows the 95% probability of losing streaks for various winrates. Even a 50% winrate system can have 16 losses in a row over 5000 trades. It is not a question of how but it is a question of when.

Workshop

5. On the flip side, Low WR and high RR will never have even distribution of profits as the system will turn positive only with large profits. If one misses those trades, then the performance would be pretty dismal.

6. The interesting thing is that most of us would feel better with a system that produces more winning trades than losers. The vast majority of people would have a lot of trouble with the 4th system (even though it has the best statistical advantage compared to other systems) because of our natural tendency to want to be right all of the time.

7. As I always say ‘there is nothing right or wrong’ in the markets. We just need to choose what is comfortable for us. The battlecry is ‘how to find the one that is comfortable for us?’. Very simple – try them all with minimum size. Your mind will naturally cling towards the one that is comfortable for you 😊

Happy trading !!

Law of Large numbers and its implication in Trading

Trading Journal

Besides loving to trade and playing cricket, I am an ardent subscriber to the statistical concept – the law of large numbers. According to probability theory, the law of large numbers is a theorem that describes the result of performing the same experiment a large number of times. Moreover, the average of the results obtained from a large number of trials should be close to the expected value, and will tend to become closer as more trials are performed.

Let us look at some illustrations first before talking about its implications in trading.

Law of Large numbers and Coin toss

Law of large numbers is best illustrated by the example of a coin flip, which has a 50% chance of landing on heads. If we flip the coin twice, we have almost exactly equal chances of any scenario happening: heads twice, tails twice, or evenly split. The probability of getting 5 heads and 5 tails on ten flips is just 8% but that probability keeps increasing as we increase the sample size. If one flips the coin 100 times, the probability of getting 50 heads and 50 tails (P=0.5) increases to 70% and so on.

Below is a depiction of the Law of Large Numbers in action, for 1000 trials –

Workshop

As one can see, the more the sample size (trials) is, the probability of getting equal number of heads/tails increases.

Law of large numbers and casinos

Coin flips are interesting theoretically, but the Law of Large numbers has a number of practical implications in the real world as well.

A famous example is Casinos – who can forget the ringing sound of slot machines/clamoring laughters sound in the craps table of Casino halls. Casinos live and die by the law of large numbers. Each game has a house edge built into it, representing the average loss over the initial bet. Some sample edges are –

* Blackjack – 0.75%
* Baccarat – 1.2%
* Craps – 1.4%
* Roulette – 5%
* Slot machines – 5-10%

Over longer time frames, it becomes increasingly likely that the house edge will represent the casino’s profit margin.

Law of large numbers and trading

When it comes to trading, many misinterpret(in a negative way) this law of large numbers. They think that the more they trade, they would have more losses which leads to account blow-up. If a traders’ methodology has a statistical ‘edge’, and if he does not change the underlying parameters on the way, it is better for a trader to let the law of large numbers to work in his/her favor.

Trading decisions may appear to be binary – either buy or sell or up or down, but they are not. There are a critical variables which must be accounted for, such as how much am willing to lose/how to trail the profits, or in other words, what is the risk/reward of the trade and how do I manage the trade. So, there is something other than chance that comes into play when trading, and that is skill and technique.

It stands to reason then, that the better your skills and technique, the more you should trade. While Law of large numbers is important because it “guarantees” stable long-term results for random events, it follows that it is also important that our sample of trades is large enough to maximize the number of successful outcomes from our skillful trades and therefore maximize your earning potential. So, if it sounds so simple, why does traders do not allow this law to work for themselves? Why do they jump ships on the way(changing trading systems)?

Think about this for a second. The trader starts trading their plan with all good intentions. Things may or may not go well straight away, but sooner or later as the markets behavior ebbs and flows with/against the strategy’s strengths and weaknesses, losing trades will inevitably occur. At this point of time, the trader gets scared. They don’t like to give money back to the market, so they decide to try and modify the system to filter out trades like that last losing one. They begin to add indicators to charts, coming up with new ever more convoluted combinations, furiously testing to see what cuts out the most bad signals while leaving in place the good ones. A few times round this loop and suddenly, their chart starts to resemble something a seismologist might be more used to seeing than a price chart 🙂 As a result, again, the loop starts – they never let ‘law of large numbers’ to work as they dont stick around with one idea. Law of large numbers will be rendered meaningless if we keep changing the rules on the way.

Law of large numbers and behavioral difficulties

To let the law of large numbers work for us, we need to put trade after trade, over and over again without changing the underlying parameters. Just like onerously bolting on wheels on an automobile assembly line, making a series of trades can be very tedious. It may be hard to maintain self-control at times. It is understandable. We are human, and humans have a strong primal urge to seek out drama and action.

The kind of person who is attracted to trading is not the person who prefers tedium to excitement. This is the raw fact. If we are a trader, we’re probably the kind of person who has shunned a mundane 9-to-5 job for a more unconventional, adventurous profession (many come to trading for this reason). The excitement of working as a full time, active trader appeals to us. We thrive on the uncertainty and endless possibilities. What attracts us to trading, however, may also be a reason for our downfall, unless we are careful. We may be the kind of person who gets bored easily. It is quite possible that the long hours of self-control required to make a profit may be difficult to maintain. This is why many crave for action in the markets. So, eventually, they put on trades that is not part of their plan. It is exactly at this juncture, we break the ‘law of large numbers’ as it assumes that we do the same kind of trades(based on a definite idea) day in/day out. Essentially, we never stick around (or stick around with the same idea) for law of large numbers to work.

How to gain from Law of large numbers

It would be prudent if a trader(new and experienced alike) does the following –

1. Create a trading plan
2. Backtest the plan with large sample size (never fall victim to small sample skewing)
3. Determine your risk based on backtesting parameters
4. Create a money management plan
5. Stick to the plan to let the law of large numbers work

Final thoughts

It is illogical to subscribe to the theory that ” you’re only as good as your last trade. ” If you are going to trade for a living, there is no last trade, only the next trade. Whether, our last trade was a winner or a loser, it has absolutely no bearing on the outcome of our next trade.

Unlike gambling, a winning streak by a trader will NOT eventually be overcome by the parameters of the game, unless he somehow convinces himself that this is his inevitable outcome. Trading is not gambling where the house has the edge (let us not focus on the broker’s commission and negative sum game for a moment). Trading is a performance based activity that requires skill, technique, experience and above all, practice. Most important though, the trader must have the right attitude, focus, patience, and self-confidence, and then the trader will be the one who possesses the edge – not the other way around 🙂

Happy trading !!

Trading journal – why should a trader maintain it

Trading Journal

Introduction

Journaling our trades or in rudimentary terms, record-keeping is simply recording the trades with different set of values but it is not as simple as that. Now, I can hear some voices – ‘What is the big deal about journaling my trades? I have the best method in the world which is raking in 10% profits per week and so, I don’t need them” Fair enough. Happy for you!!

But, for regular traders (who do this for a living), a trading journal is probably the most important tool a trader needs to possess in order to trade the markets profitably. Proper record keeping can tell us what we have been doing right, what needs to improve and help find patterns in our method/behavior.

Maintaining a trading journal might sound unpretentious but even getting started, is an arduous task. First of all, most of the wannabe traders do not journal their trades. There is a strong reason for that behavior. If we keep a journal, then we will be forced to take responsibilities for our actions in trading rather than blaming the market, blaming others (eg: market makers, software glitches, hot social media guru, TV analyst), wife, neighbor’s dog and myriad number of illogical reasons. Records keep us honest and remember, numbers don’t lie !!

Key aspects of a trading journal

It is absolutely astonishing to know the kind of information traders can get from their journals if they include basic statistics about their performance. Trading predispositions that escape normal notice suddenly stand out when summarized statistically. With statistics, we can not only say that a trader made improvement, but can actually measure that improvement and track it over time. Such statistics capture improvements that will eventually show up in the profit/loss statement, but it may not be evident straightaway.

1. Observation about us and markets – It should have observations about us/our trading and about the markets themselves. I have found that trader journals usually are lop-sided toward self-analysis and include little in the way of market observation. When I began as a trader, I printed out daily charts of each day’s action and wrote comments on these, pointing out the patterns that I wanted to watch for in the future. After some time, this identification of pattern became automatic and it became easy to trigger that trade next time.

2. Observations about our best trades must be included – Many traders use the journal as a means of self-criticism or a venting out mechanism, and they only journal when they’re having problems in the market. Additionally, it should also tell our best trades so that we can focus on them more.

3. Journal should outline specific steps for improvement – It is not enough to write ambiguous generalities, such as ‘I need to hold my winners longer’ or ‘I need to be more disciplined’. Identifying specific steps we will take to hold onto winners (proper setting of trailing stops (if any), self-control strategies, etc.) or maintaining discipline (risk management, taking breaks, etc.) makes the journal a game plan for the next day/week/month. Such review is an essential step in the kind of continuous improvement that marks winners across all disciplines.

4. Net points and Average point in losing trade/winning trade (Risk:Reward) – self explanatory metric

5. Number of winning and losing trades

6. Winning ratio – this is one of the most beaten down parameter to lure newcomers into trading workshops/services and many others. This parameter is of no use if we don’t see it along with Average Risk:Average reward. A system with 30% winning ratio and 1:7 RR is much more superior (w.r.t risk adjusted returns) than a system with 75% winning ratio with 1:1.5 RR

7. Number of long and short trades – Some people are so smooth in taking short trades but they have hard time taking longs. This is a real problem for lot of newbies.

8. Time holding losing trades versus winners – It is very hard to make money over time by holding onto losers. Eventually, the size of the losers becomes greater than the winners so that even a trader who has more winning trades than losers can end up in the red.

9. Profit/Loss broken down by long and short trades and in-turn, broken down by market condition. This is particularly useful for discretionary traders. It tells them if they trade ranges better than breakout movements. If a trader’s performance is ominously worse in one mode than another, then it is time to start probing their trading for needed improvements.

10. Drawdown percentage (both average and maximum)– to identify the drawdown and see if it matches with the system’s expectations

11. Tracking emotions before/during and after the trade – Jotting down our emotions when we enter the trade, when the trade starts going in our favor/against us, stop outs and profit tgts(if any)…we will feel very different emotions in each of these stages. Identifying them (being aware) is the first step to understanding it. Over a period of time, the emotion patterns starts to repeat and we can really work on them.

12. It should have ‘entry note’, ‘exit notes’ and ‘what would i do differently’ columns for every trade taken.

13. It should have provision to subtract the commission+other taxes we pay irrespective of winner or loser.

14. Equity curve – nice equity curve graph is a must and a breakdown of monthly/quarterly points/returns in a pivot table

Probable learning out of a trading journal

When we see the metrics, we could see where we can work on (few areas of improvement) –

1. Holding onto losing trades as long or longer than winners – so, jotting down the time in a losing trade/winning trade helps here (Point # 8 of previous topic)

2. Significantly different profitability during morning vs. afternoon trading hours – this is applicable more to intraday traders. Many a times, fatigue can make an intraday trader go below his desired potential.

3. Different profitability during different market conditions, such as trending markets or volatile ones – there are 4 kinds of markets trending volatile, trending non-volatile, rangebound volatile and rangebound non-volatile

4. The tendency to give back the points of many profitable trades in a few large losing ones – this is the biggest sin a trader can make while formulating a system. Small losses/small profits/large profits are all OK but large loss is never OK for various number of reasons.

5. The trades and their distribution/sequence can teach us a very important lesson – not only markets and volatility are cyclical in nature, even returns are cyclical in nature. A stellar year can be followed with a lackluster year and the 3rd year could be an above-average year. This kind of understanding would give us the conviction to stick to the plan every single day.

Final thoughts

More than a tool, journal can be a great friend to a trader – they can remind us of what we’re meant to be doing. They are a way of focusing on process, rather than anchoring our moods and self-esteem to the ups and downs of P/L.

In the end, trading journal can be thought of as an exercise equipment – they only produce results if you work them regularly. So, let us start journaling our trades the right way and at the end of the day, let us be better traders. Atleast, we owe it to ourselves that much !!

Trading Q&A Audio/Video 1

Audio/Video response to the tweet posted on April 26th 2018

Here is the A/V link:

Bouncing back slowly but steadily

Mentoring

A trader asked me a question about how to develop the discipline in following his trading plan. Am sure many of us can relate to the questioner’s mindset in ‘trying to recover the losses as quickly as possible’. It is clearly evident that the trader does not believe in bouncing back slowly. He is also well aware of the risks involved in trading stock futures on result days but he could not control the urge to put on a trade.

Here is the question (quoting it) and the complete reply

Question:

“Hello Madan – i know i have to focus on maximizing gain and have to stop weighing losses more than gains. If I look at my losses, have incurred heavy losses in trading stock future and that too on result days. I need to bury this desire to recover what I lost quickly. I find it difficult but would want to know if there is any mental drill to have disciplined approach.

I understand that trading in stock future on result days is very risky, after I enter a trade if it is in my favor it nurture my belief that being undisciplined at times helps u in profit but in the long run I am at loss due to these trades only”

Reply:

First things first – please do not answer these questions but just answer them to yourself.

1. Why are you trading the markets?

2. What is the need to trade on results day (knowing well that the stock can go either way)? If it is not part of the trading plan, why trade that day? For example, i don’t initiate new trades on RBI days. There is always another trade right? I know few traders trade on earnings announcements day but they have hedged strategies.

3. Why are you impatient to make back all the lost money back quickly? Why are we not respecting probabilities, distribution of trades and climbing up steadily?

4. We are aware that ‘profiting by breaking our system/rules can create havoc in the long run’ but we still take comfort in the fact that we are making profits by not following our plan. So, what thought process is giving us this pleasure?

5. Are our goals oriented towards P/L or oriented towards the process? Why are we so focused on P/L than focusing on the process?

Common observations about an undisciplined trader:

1. More often than not, traders do not trade to make money. Trading is not rocket science. It’s like making biryani – all the raw-materials and perfect ratio/sequence has to come into play. Once we figure that out, making a great biryani is just a process of following the routine. All the major restaurants follow routine in making their special dishes every day.

Most of the traders trade to regulate their emotional state. Once the trader becomes attached to the need to trade and make money quickly —and once his perfectionist voice of “I should have bought there” enters the picture–he is no longer grounded in markets. It’s when those frustrations build over time, becoming self-reinforcing, that traders sway away from their plan/system. What derails traders is that, at some point, we switch perceptual lenses and view the trade through the lens of profit/loss (P/L), not through the lens of probabilities, risks, and rewards.

Mentally rehearsing a mindset everyday (please read psychocybernetics and see how you can implement mental rehearsing in trading. It helped me tremendously) in which it is OK to miss moves–there will always be future opportunity–traders can prevent many of these train wrecks. The practice of taking a break during the trading day, reviewing one’s state of mind, and clearing one’s head is remarkably effective in this regard. Clearly identifying the parameters of one’s trade–the optimal size, a logical way to trail SL, stop loss points that put risk and reward into proper alignment–also ensures that you are controlling your trading, not the reverse.

2. Many traders formulate intentions for their trades and then wonder why they have veered from their trading plan. When we ask them about their trading plan, however, there is nothing written down nor is there anything specific that has been planned. Often, however, we will hear from traders that they’ve violated their discipline. When we ask which rules they’ve violated, they cannot give a definite answer. How can we violate a discipline that isn’t there to begin with? The problem is not that an excess of emotion interfered with their plans and rules. Rather, they were never sufficiently planful and rule-governed to begin with. So, there is no emotion involved (or progress to be made) when there is no plan to follow in the first place.

Essentially, in my opinion, the single greatest way to build discipline is to turn rules and plans into ‘resolutions’. That means that you have to give those rules and plans a life of their own. The more you think of them (mental rehearsing/writing them down in a piece of paper whenever you find time in a day), look forward to them, grade yourself on them and reward yourself for them–the more real they become. You are most likely to abandon rules and plans that haven’t been internalized as resolutions/commitments. This is where ‘mental rehearsing’ would help immensely. It enables us to internalize our plans/goals effectively.

Unfortunately, mere intentions are not strong enough to trap these trading errors. We need the emotional force of resolutions and the reliability of routines. Turning intentions into checklists and checklists into resolutions is a great way to ground yourself into best trading practices.

Last but not the least – being disciplined is a self-fulfilling phenomenon. The more you are disciplined, the more you will see stability in your trading and the more stability in P/L (bottom left to top right angle), the more disciplined we become. And the cycle continues.

Hope it helps. Good luck with your trading !!

Mentoring requests and my response

Mentoring

UPDATE as of November 01 2019 – am not taking any new mentees until further notice.

It is Saturday evening and here I am. Last one month, my email box was swamped with requests for mentoring (as of yesterday, it stands at 32 requests). I was doing ‘blanket’ denial for all the requests except one but due to my natural propensity to respond to questions/requests, I replied to those emails with the reason for denying the requests. Eventually, it came to a point where I thought it is better to compose a blogpost about it.

As trading is a mind-numbing activity for me, in the past decade, I have helped few traders (free of cost) for months together with their trading related despairs and few of them are successfully trading fulltime. As I derive colossal pleasure out of these conversations/interactions, it was a win-win situation for me.

Rough plan for mentoring

Out of these 32 requests, I already took a person under my wings to assist in his trading career. He came up with his own system (as am not a system seller, I told him clearly that I will not help him with system building from scratch but I would be able to help him out to enhance it).

Having walked his path before, I think am more like a watchtower for his trading related activities and I believe I can positively impact his trading progress. I spend 1 hr per week over the phone with him and have few conversations over email/chat about his trading related evolution. We both know that there are no guarantee of success for him due to this relationship but we hope that it will shorten his learning curve (when someone who has walked his path is able to guide).

As I don’t have a structured way of doing this activity, this is what I have in mind for him. (We are in step 2 of the process right now)

1. If needed, enhancing his existing system (if am able to spot any logical flaw in entry/exit based on my experience, would suggest that). If the system sounds logically good to me, we go to the next step.

2. As there are 100s of ways to make money in the markets, we quickly progressed on to this step (sticking with the 1st step for a longer time is tantamount to ‘holy grail’ search).

So, backtesting the system for atleast 5-10 years to derive parameters to analyze if it is going to suit the trader’s psychology and if it is worth putting the money in. One system will not suit everyone (so he has to come up with his own) and if a trader is already attuned with his existing system (by trading it live) but not profitable consistently, he is an ideal person for me to help out.

3. Devise a money management plan based on his trading capital, his risk comfort level and backtested parameter (and if he has real trades with the system, nothing like it).This step will take some insightful thinking from my side.

4. Risk management (can be a part of money mgmt) – maximum importance would be given to this step to ascertain the risk appetite/goal of the trader. At the end of the day, risk determines our longevity in this profession.

5. Then, real trading starts – emotions kick-in. So, it is time for the trader to understand how emotions affects trading and how to embrace them (and not fight them out). We will probably handle fear of loss, fear of missing out, taking profits early and fear of pulling the trigger. These are the common roadblocks in a trader’s mind.

6. Once we go through step #5 (which is an ongoing process), we move on to handling drawdown part – both points and time drawdown. Hopefully, I would have fortified the trader about his system drawdown in step 2 itself (during backtesting) but real trading invokes the ‘real’ emotions out of us.

7. Helping him out in increasing position size slowly but steadily – not exponentially. The money management will have a clear-cut crisp plan to do this position size increase.

8. Once the trader is successful consistently (and able to execute his system with atleast 95% efficiency), I guess my job is done. I might have created a trader who can live on his own and hopefully, help others to achieve the same.

Vital pre-requisites I look for

I like to try out new things and as i have never done this before, am thinking of assisting 2 more folks (and hopefully to develop a good friendship in the long run) but i have certain pre-requisites in mind

1. A person with good character, ethics, and morals.

2. Be a person who is committed to things, dedicated, and have a stick-to-it approach

3. Someone who is looking to do things that may be uncomfortable for him to become better.

4. Minimum of 5 lacs in his trading account (more the better as we will have room for efficient money management). If someone is an intraday player, the required trading account size can be a tad lower.

5. Atleast 1-2 years of trading the markets (part time or full time). Cannot be a complete newbie

6. At least 2 hours per day dedicated for backtesting and reading chart patterns (Believe me – this is tremendous amount of work as we will do bar-by-bar replay and few iterations would be there). System building is just 20% of the game but it forms the foundation to the remaining 80% – to be successful in trading.

Fees for this relationship

I was doing this for free all along (and still do) and have spent numerous hours with few folks when I was in Bangalore but later figured out that people do not value the time if it is done free – free meals are only worth that much, I guess. They just squander away the time spent as if it meant nothing. Honestly, it is not about the money as I don’t need this extra money at all but it will make the trader more accountable and he will come to the table more planned with sound questions/utmost sincerity. It will make me accountable too.

Am planning to charge something that is not too less for the trader to consider this as a pastime or too high for the trader to think it as a burden. 25k per month is the figure I have in mind.

So, if you think you have what it takes to be a successful trader (and meet the pre-requisites), please email me with your background in trading/what has happened so far to ‘marketswithmadan@gmail.com’. If you are a free-loader/don’t take this profession seriously/do not meet the pre-requisites/do not have a system already (atleast a skeleton), please don’t bother to email me.

Hopefully this post gives me a chance to interact with only serious folks who want to do something about their trading profession (or take it to next level).

Happy trading all !!

Why do we exit prematurely from a trade

Impatience

I had the privilege of meeting so many traders last weekend in a trader’s conference in Lavasa, Pune. It was an excellent eye-opener for me with respect to the struggle a budding trader goes through. Different traders had different issues and wanted to talk about a common issue among traders in this post.

Many traders have the issue of closing trades too soon. Especially, as it gets closer to their intended target (or trail too close if they dont have targets). Once the stock/future reaches certain level, they seem to trail the stop much closer only to have the market take them out and then reverse to their target (or taking its original path). This seems to happen over and over (in varied intervals). They are afraid to give money back to the markets and have seen traders going for counselling for this behavior in western countries. We all understand this is a problem but a little background will help us see it more clearly.

Analysis of the problem:

This is a classic example of ‘prospect theory’ which states that people are willing to settle for a reasonable level of gains (even if they have a reasonable chance of earning more), and are willing to engage in risk-seeking behaviors where they can limit their losses. In other words, losses are weighted more heavily than an equivalent amount of gains. An employee thinks this way every time he/she looks at the paycheck and sees how much money has been deducted for taxes. He/she doesn’t want to work anymore, and earn more money, because he/she does not want to pay more taxes. Although the employee would benefit financially from the additional after-tax income, prospect theory suggests that the benefit (or utility gained) from the extra money is not enough to overcome the feelings of loss incurred by paying taxes.

Cleansing thought:

Many traders wonder why consistently being profitable in stock markets is always elusive. The above mentioned problem is one of the main reasons that inhibits consistent profitability in trading. ‘Learning what to do, and actually doing what we learned (under pressure) are two different things’. And once again,it goes back to one’s desire to maximize the chance of gain, not to maximize the gain itself.Getting out of winning trades prematurely, is an obvious manifestation of this phenomena. This is also why most of the traders inherently look for ‘high winning rate’ system.

All it serves to do however, is make one feel better at that moment in time. In reality, it is to the severe detriment of our long-term performance. One has to realize that trading is a big-picture endeavor, and what feels good in the short term, is most likely counter-productive in the long term. Quite simply, leaving a large amount of money on the table, or worse yet; missing a major winning trade, is just as bad, if not worse, than a losing trade. The market however, lulls us into complacency, and even reinforces this natural behavior, because it spends more time in ranges than in trends, where small profits quickly vanish. We then learn to instinctively cover trades before they return to our entry point, or turn into losers as we would have seen this behavior many times selectively.

What makes matters worse, is that that our exits command top priority in the trade decision hierarchy (for obvious reasons), followed by trade size, and entry point. Liquidations (exits) are far more important than initiations, and harder to get right. When we enter a trade, it is the most hopeful point in the trade cycle, but come exit time, a trader is bombarded with stress, cognitive load, emotions and bias and they all have reared their ugly heads, just in time to distort our expected value of the trade.

Having a predetermined target and sticking to it is not the answer, in my opinion. If we have specific target based exits and if it works for us, that’s great. In most cases, people are going to get out early anyway, and it is tantamount to trying to predict the market. It is more important to concentrate on projecting losses, risk management, and finding signals that produce trades that are well defined, have a proven edge, and are reproducible, rather than trying to out-guess the market.

Essentially, if price action or our expectation dictates the market should continue in our favor, why get out? And, why use a target that we’re not going to follow as our exit point? Exit the trade when price action/indicator signal tells us the trade is not good anymore.

Parting thought on this topic:

Imagine that trade management is like grilling a steak. If we like our steak well-done, we are not going to take it off the grill after 4 minutes, because we’re hungry and can’t wait for it to fully cook. And we’re not going to take it off the grill at some arbitrary time, because some cookbook said a well-done 2-inch steak should be cooked for 10 minutes. Instead, we are going to observe the steak, maybe poke it with our finger, or cut it open a little to see if it’s done. And only when it is cooked to perfection, do we take it off the grill. This applies to EVERY steak we cook. Same applies to every trade we take in the markets.

Thanks for reading and happy trading !!