Tag Archives: Trading plan

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 !!

Social media and its impact on the mindset of a trader

Mentoring

I have been active in Twitter for the past 6 months and this side of world seems to be filled with overly-expressive folks, especially, when it comes to trading. Traders bicker with each other like kids for everything under the roof and keep fighting that their method is the best in the markets. Even a 5-year experienced trader knows that there are many ways to skin a cat and one method is not superior to other.

Open disclaimer first – right off the bat, it may piss some people off but in long run accepting and learning to deal with these basic tenets will definitely help us to move into the small realm of successful traders. Please adopt the supermarket approach. If you don’t like something in this post, please ignore this rambling. This post is not intended to hurt anyone as I do not know 99.99% of the traders in-person. So, not directed to any individual or group. The pointers that are covered below are few of the several reasons that hamper a trader’s progress if he is active in social media during market hours. Whether you are involved in bickering/ego-fighting or just a spectator, the end-result is same, albeit with varied intensity.

1. When one is trading profitably and wishes to teach it to others (the psychological urge behind this teaching could be many but let’s stick to the point), he cannot expect his students to understand it the same way as he has understood. As it is almost impossible to convince a bear to be a bull once he or she has taken a position, it would be even more unfathomable to convince each trader to trade a certain way. I also conduct workshops and I don’t expect my participants to understand the mechanics of my trading style in a day. Once they keep practicing the concept, it might get internalized well in the mind (after dedicated practice) and the idea can open up many possibilities.

While we are at it, would also like to mention that just because we don’t understand a method, does not mean it is not making money for others. ‘Lack of understanding’ cannot be construed as the ‘failure’ of the method discussed. On the flip side, there are 100’s of ways to make money in the markets and it would be childish of us to ridicule other methods. It would be more childlike if we say that my method is superior to others and start chest-thumping – this is so prevalent in facebook/twitter unfortunately. Market returns are cyclical and method A might do better in certain circumstances than Method B – vice versa is equally true. Please understand that everyone has different time frames, methods and objectives. It is also prudent to remind oneself that “every dog has its own day

2. Stop justifying your methodology or trades – who are we are trying to prove here? We don’t need to prove anyone that we are successful in anything. So, why to some strangers? If one is successful in trading, he will exhibit patience as patience is every successful trader’s virtue – without exception. Patience comes with a sense of calmness and confidence. You know you are doing the right thing. Thus, there is no need to justify excessively. On the other hand, stubbornness often comes with anxiety and over-justification. When you find yourself trying too hard to explain what you are doing, you are being stubborn.

Any successful trait needed for trading (like patience, emotional control and discipline) will definitely be reflected in our other aspects of life too. Our family/friends would definitely see the massive difference once we become successful (not only in our finances but also in our behavior) – One of the important perks of being successful in trading.

3. Actually, most of the traders know the reason (or set of reasons) that make them lose money in the markets. But taking corrective action and doing the right set of things to turn profitable is something that individual has to do. Please do keep in mind knowing, and doing are two very different things

4. While people are told they won’t be successful overnight, most new/struggling traders don’t actually believe that. Social media never lets them believe it completely as every other trader is supremely successful in social media 🙂 They have an idea in their head that they’re smarter (Lake Wobegon effect), have it worked out, and will be able to make money quite quickly. So, always in the urge to make money faster and lose it actually.

5. As Master Oogway tells in the movie Kung Fu Panda “One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it.” (this quote is actually from a french poet Jean de La Fontaine). Most of the traders are determined not to lose money (rather than having a determination to ‘make money’) and in the process, they actually lose more money. Am not saying we are pre-destined to results but this one needs to be taken seriously. Knew many folks who have the aversion for loss and unfortunately, end up in trading (trading needs that loss digesting stomach) and struggle for years.

6. False hope also keeps our enthusiasm going in trading. We can attribute this ‘false hope’ to survivorship bias – We are likely to hear more stories of people making a killing than hearing about people losing everything because the people who lost everything are gone from the public eye and are not talking about it. The few who make money are sure to let everyone know about it (or others talk about them a lot) and thus create a sort of illusion–intentionally or unintentionally– that anyone can do what they did/do.

7. Easy money lure – the lure of making money each day in only a couple hours gets people’s minds spinning with possibilities. They imagine stopping everything and just start trading for a living immediately (For example, lot of chatter happened on Sept 21 2018 EOD about people buying far OTM puts for pennies and selling it for 200s..this kind of chatter happens a lot when mkt moves violently..this also feeds the mindset that money is easy in trading)

As a matter of fact, they would start dreaming about trading in a beach while sipping pina colada. Unfortunately, sand, water, sun glare and laptops don’t mix. You are not gonna get paycheck every month and you must be absolutely at the top of your game without distractions to make money long-run (this is exactly why I keep advocating to get off from social media/forums during market hours). Distraction and ego fights can damage our psychological forte and eventually, we start focusing on things that does not matter.

8. Long story short – stick to a well-defined plan and trade that plan even when it is uncomfortable (and it often will be). The vast majority of the population, and thus the vast majority of traders, buckle under this uncomfortable pressure – the same way we reach for the ice-cream instead of the carrots.

9. On the other side, social media and forums can have a positive/lasting impact on a trader if he can figure out a virtual mentor(mentor does not have to know you but you can follow his principles/thought processes). It can be a great resource of authentic information for new traders as well. But overall, it has never served a trader well if he loiters around in social media during market hours. This is not even debatable any more as the negatives over-weigh positives by a huge margin.

10. So, if you are a losing/struggling trader, try getting off from the forums/social media (for few months) during market hours. See if it has changed your overall mental resilience/trading. I can bet that this will be a great trade to put on as Reward:Risk seems very high. Risk = not being able to participate in conversations/getting updated about latest news, Reward = profitable trading without outside distraction.

Happy trading !!

Trend following and pivots basics

Introduction

When it comes to trading the markets, we are always inundated with so much of information (I call it as ‘Information constipation’) that we could no longer see the forest but obsessed with just seeing the trees. The process of trading or speculation (as they call it), has morphed into a pseudo-intellectual science and consequentially, traders think that they must strain their brains to profit. Trading, however, is anything but an intellectual exertion. In fact, the more we use our brain in trading, the more likely we are to find ourselves with negative P&L.

I have actively traded my own account for the last 12+ years and let me be honest – the initial few years were marked by lots of trial and error. A good mentor can obviously shorten that learning curve but that is besides the scope of this post. Becoming a consistently successful trader has got nothing to do with education and I can vouch for it. My success in trading has got nothing to do with my postgraduate degree. In fact, my formal schooling did more to hinder my ability to trade than help. Graduate school filled my head with lot of abstractions and theory but did nothing towards advancing my common sense. It caused me to think a lot about the ‘right way’ to trade, and the harder I thought, the farther I was going away from the basics of trading.

Trading is not so fundamentally difficult, but the print/visual media wants us to feel so. They have their own business reasons for it. Trading the markets can offer fantastic opportunities to make money but it is at the same time, the most self-revealing career anyone can ever choose. Now, one may wonder why this rhetoric but think about it. If any of us can structurally identify what the markets are doing currently rather than trying to ‘predict’ what the markets are going to do, job is 75% done. We don’t need to predict as we don’t know ourselves what we would be thinking this time next week. Neither can anyone know what the markets will be doing this time next week. We all trade our own belief systems. Once we identify the underlying structure of markets, suddenly, trading seems not that difficult. This is where ‘structural pivots’ can be of immense help. Pivots can help us identify the path of least resistance. Think of how, in our own life, we follow the path of least resistance. Following that path has led us to read this blogpost this very instant. Just understanding the underlying structure of the markets has served me well in the past decade.

Floor pivots vs structural pivots

Whenever I use the word ‘Pivot’, the listener always gets baffled on what I really mean as we have another set of pivots that is often talked about. This section is to clear that up a bit.

There is something called ‘floor pivots’. Floor pivots has been used for many years by floor traders to come up with a reference point based on the prices from the previous day. It is calculated based on high, low and close of the previous day. And few lines are drawn above the pivots as resistance and few lines below as support. Most of the technical trading platforms can plot these lines automatically.

The formula is as follows:

Pivot = (H + L + C)/3
Resistance level 1 =(2*P) – L
Support level 1 =(2*P) – H
Resistance level 2 = (P – S1) + R1
Support level 2 = P – (R1 – S1)

I personally find these levels not so useful for trading. Some people think that these levels have meaning because so many floor traders, and now screen based traders, watch them, and they become self-fulfilling. That may be true to some degree. On most trading days, there is no beneficial information at any of these levels. Many attempts have been made to change the formula, such as using the current day’s opening price instead of the previous close. There is little improvement with any of these variations, in my opinion.

An interesting experiment is to draw a line randomly on an intraday chart. Just close the eyes and drop a line using a horizontal line tool and place it anywhere on the chart. Then, watch as prices move away from or toward this line. It will hit and reverse on the randomly drawn line about the same percentage of times as it does off the pivot or the support or resistance levels. The randomness of the placement of the line does not necessarily make it useless. A line drawn anywhere on the chart can be a useful point of reference. With a line on the chart, one has a better sense of the market movements. You can more easily gauge the movement, or acceleration towards or away from this line. It is like being in a boat at night, in a fog, with a lighthouse at some distance away. The lighthouse becomes a point of reference, and you can tell whether you are getting closer to or further away from that point of light.

On the other hand, a structural pivot is a price level that stands out on the chart as a high point and surrounded by lower bars, or for downtrends, a low level that stands out and is surrounded by higher bars. For example, in an uptrend, a price level will be reached that attracts selling and shuts off buying, at least momentarily. Prices will usually fall back somewhat, thus leaving a price bar on the chart that has lower highs on either side. This high price bar then becomes an area to test on the next push higher. Traders mark the structural pivots in myriad number of ways and I have found my own way of marking that helps me understand the underlying structure of the markets in a more systematic/structured way (this will be covered in the first session of my upcoming workshop in Bangalore/Chennai). Pivot points on the chart create excellent reference points to interpret the developing market structure. Some traders refer to these pivots as swing points. Those who view the markets in terms of chaos theory would refer to them as fractals. They are all same concept, just with different names. This way of marking structural pivots has been around from early 90’s.

Trend following and structural pivots

Trend determination is obviously important for trend followers, but anyone trading in any style should be aware of the trend in the market they are trading. The overall trend can influence our trading style. The beginning of a trend can be easier to trade than end of a trend in many cases. Therefore, it is important to know what the trend is.

But to complicate matters, there can be many trends at play in the same market, even on the same chart. There are trends within trends. Different period lengths on a moving averages, or indicator input, can signal a different, often confusing and conflicting trend. There can be a counter trend down move on a 30-minute chart, while the daily chart is showing a powerful uptrend, while the monthly chart is showing a sideways trend. When they all line up, it is the most comfortable and reassuring time to take a trade, but if we wait for everything to be in sync, we you would probably trade very little, and often not in a timely manner (this is a common problem with ‘multi timeframe’ analysis’) And often the comfortable and easy trade is the one everyone sees, and it often turns out to be untimely. My thought, after changing my mind on this issue many times over the years, is to keep it simple and just trade off the time frame of the chart you are analyzing.

Most of us want indicators to guide us, as indicators are quantifiable. We can lean on them with more confidence. However, the purest and fastest way to determine trend is just through studying the price structure. Price does not lag. Price is not derived from anything. It is current. It might frustrate, but it doesn’t lie.

Workshop

The above chart shows a series of price bars. I took the time frame and market off the chart for this illustration. It really doesn’t matter what time frame is being analyzed. A trend has the same basic structure in all time frames. The red and green horizontal dotted lines are placed at swing points in the price action.

This is the same theory of a market making higher highs and higher lows, although this isn’t always exactly true. Sometimes a pause will form in the price structure and prices temporarily go opposite to the trend with the market making a lower high, but as long as a lower low is not taken out, the uptrend is still intact. On the above chart there is a smooth progression of structural points taken out from the first blue up arrow to the red down arrow on the right. There was only one instance, near the middle of the chart, where there was a slightly lower swing high.

I believe swing points are valid as a breakout strategy because the market views these points as areas to test. If the test fails, the market will test or create a swing point in the opposite direction. If the test is successful, the market will proceed upward, and the old swing point becomes an area of support if the market revisits that neighborhood. The market is constantly testing whether trade is accepting or rejecting price, and these structural points are the reference points for these tests.

Workshop

So, what do we do when the market chops like we see in the above picture? There is a way of avoiding these chops atleast 60% of the time if we mark the large pivots (see it as a high/low of a range) on top of the small pivots and trade only if it goes beyond that range. I have 100% mechanical way of marking it, formed rules around it which can be traded mechanically. Most of the structural pivot traders imbibe an element of discretion in their trading (to avoid chop trades) but that is exactly why, those traders suffer the most w.r.t psychological let-downs of the mind.

I should also mention that another trend following approach that was very popular in the past. It is the channel breakout. It worked in a very narrow window of time when markets trended well. The basis of this approach is to buy the breakout of the high of x number of bars ago, or short the breakout to the downside of the low of x number of bars ago. Often a stop is used with the same breakout method, but with a shorter look back period. One of the originators of this method, who was incredibly successful for a time, has not been able to be profitable with it in recent markets, even after many attempts. I think a more valid approach using breakouts is to trade the structural pivots, rather than a fixed lookback. The pivots are dynamic and reflect the structure of the price action. Fixed lookback periods don’t offer a breakout related to market structure. The market is testing structural points to see if price can be accepted or rejected at these points. The market doesn’t care about testing a price bar that occurred 21 bars ago just because it was 21 bars ago.

This has been a long post but I feel a much needed one as I often get questions on what pivots are and how to make a price action idea 100% mechanical in nature (with unbending set of entry/exit/MM rules). That is exactly what I intend to do in my workshops on August 11, 2018 at Bangalore and August 18, 2018 at Chennai. I will be showing how to identify and mark the pivots, how to mark ranges (mechanically), how to create entry/exit rules for this concept that can be traded mechanically and how it has served me well so far

Happy trading all !!

Price action based trading + System trading Workshop

Introduction

As many of you know, i have been trading just the price (a.k.a naked trading) for the last 12 years and was receiving requests to take classes/workshop on how I do price action trading in a mechanical way(absolutely no discretion involved). Heeding to the popular request, I have decided to share the knowledge to people who are interested to learn. My goal is not only to teach you naked (no indicators) price action based trading for both positional and intraday trading but also about how to consistently make money in the markets – the A to Z of trading

Summary of Workshop details

In the first part of the Workshop, I will talk about the basic concepts in Price action based trading and combine advanced knowledge/experience to make the concept an actionable trading strategy that can be used immediately. Many of the price action based strategies are discretionary in nature but as am a rule based trader, I will be teaching you a simple rule-based strategy (for both positional and intra) that can be used as a basic building block to trade any asset class including stocks, options and futures.

In the second part of the workshop, I will round out the course by teaching you how to backtest a strategy effectively (to understand its efficacy in real trading), build a money management plan based on the parameters and Risk management plan along with trading psychology that is required to make money from the markets consistently. I will also help you learn about building a successful trading plan, whether you are a part-time trader or full-time trader.

On the whole, this one day workshop would be a complete package with a discussion about the methodology and using the method in practical real-time trading.

Who can attend

1. Anyone who wants to learn price action based trading for both positional and intraday trading
2. Traders with little experience but do not make money (Only lose money)
3. Traders who make money but not consistently
4. Traders who make money consistently but cannot scale up in trading size

Morning Session Topics – the trading strategy

1. Why price action based trading? – They say ‘Price is the king and it precedes everything’. Is it really true?
2. Market structure – Basics
3. Rallies and declines
4. Details of structural pivot high/lows – how to mark them mechanically (to avoid subjectivity)
5. Trends – what constitutes the trend
6. Analyzing trends based on price action structural pivots
7. Positional mechanical strategy with multiple set of mechanical (rule-based) entry/exit rules. Participants can choose the best set of rules based on their psychological comfort level
8. Intraday strategy with multiple set of mechanical (rule-based) exit/entry rules. Participants can choose the best set of rules based on their psychological comfort level
9. Useful price action tips and tricks to extract more juice from the markets

Afternoon Session Topics – executing the strategy to trade profitably (albeit consistently)

1. What is an ‘edge’ in a system? How to quantify an ‘edge’? Do I really have an edge in my system?
2. How to efficiently backtest a strategy – what to look for and pitfalls?
3. How to evaluate backtesting results to find the optimal risk to be taken per trade?
4. Why taking 2% risk per trade will not work for everyone (like the way it is suggested in popular books)?
4. Money management in trading – how to tailor made money management based on the backtested results?
5. Trading journal and its importance
6. The real holy grail of trading – Execution
7. Part time trading vs Full time trading – Differences and their effect on our P/L

8. Role of psychology in trading – will be covering the below mentioned points in psychology
a) How to create a consistent equity curve so you can get off the roller-coaster ride and sleep at night.
b) How to dramatically ‘level up’ your consistency and escape the ‘Sneaky Mental Trap’ that sabotages your profitability when things get ‘too good’
c) The little-understood way to handle fear that separates successful traders from those who are doomed to fail (Finally, operate at your true potential!)
d) How to become a better trader by becoming a better version of yourself (and why market conditions have very little to do with your results)
e) How to know if your mind is tricking you into taking lame trades with low profit potential and holding you back from the results you truly desire

Capital required for executing the method

1 lac/ lot for Intraday trading
2 lacs/lot for Positional trading (this can change based on the price of the instrument you are trading)

Fees, timings and location

Fees : Rs. 12000/person (Inclusive of Morning Tea/Snacks, Lunch (Veg & Non- Veg buffet), Evening Tea/Snacks)
Timings : 9 AM – 6 PM

Bangalore date and location:

Date: December 15, 2018
Location: –TBD–

Chennai date and location:

Date: January 5, 2019
Location: –TBD–

Workshop

Contact details

If you want to be part of the workshop and need further details on payment, please email marketswithmadan@gmail.com or Whatsapp 96770 36689

Participants feedback of Workshops
(please click on the Date/time link below to goto the specific tweet)

Additional Perks of attending the workshop

1. Telegram support group for the attendees (1 month duration) to clear out workshop related doubts.
2. My favorite PDF books on Money management, psychology and much more.
3. Psychocybernetics – my favorite NLP technique audio CD will be shared with the attendees

Happy trading and looking forward to meeting you in-person !!

Trading workshop

Introduction

B.Krishnakumar and I, are thrilled to announce our collaboration in conducting Trading Workshops across major cities of India. Our goal is not only to teach you some technical indicator/technical analysis but to also to teach you how to consistently make money in the markets – the A to Z of trading. With a combined experience of over 35+ years in stock markets, we are confident that we can make the whole learning process simplified for you.

Trading is one of the most challenging and rewarding careers in the world. But, almost all of us might have heard that close to 95% of traders end up losing money. If you’re trading the markets, the odds are stacked against you. Every day you are up against Dalal Street’s best and brightest, who have unlimited capital and ruthless computer algorithms. That’s hardly a fair fight.

Summary of Workshop details

In the first part of the Workshop, B. Krishnakumar will build upon the basic concepts of Point and figure chart and combine advanced knowledge/experience to make the concept an actionable trading strategy that can be used immediately. Essentially, he will teach you a simple rule-based strategy that can be used as a basic building block to trade any asset class including stock, options and futures.

In the second part of the workshop, I will round out the course by teaching you how to backtest a strategy effectively (to understand its efficacy in real trading), build a money management plan based on the parameters and Risk management plan along with trading psychology that is required to make money from the markets consistently. I will also help you learn about building a successful trading plan, whether you are a part-time trader or full-time trader.

On the whole, this one day workshop will not only teach you a simple (and efficient) strategy but it will also teach how to take your skillset and apply it to trading a strategy professionally – a complete package.

Target audience

1. People with little or no experience in the markets
2. Traders with little experience but do not make money (Only lose money)
3. Traders who make money but not consistently
4. Traders who make money consistently but cannot scale up in trading size

Fees, timings and location

Workshop

Topics details

Session 1 topics – by B.Krishnakumar

1. Basic & how to plot Point & Figure chart
2. What are the benefits of Point & Figure Charts
3. Basic buy / sell signals & Major Point & Figure Chart patterns
4. Fresh signals & Follow Through
5. How to calculate high probability targets
6. Simple Strategy to Trade Nifty Futures Using Point & Figure charts

Session 2 topics – by Madan Kumar

1. How to efficiently backtest a strategy – what to look for and pitfalls?
2. What is an ‘edge’ in a system? How to quantify an ‘edge’? Do I really have an edge in my system?
3. Money management in trading – how to tailor made money management based on the backtested results?
4. Part time trading vs Full time trading – Differences and their effect on our P/L
5. Trading journal and its importance
6. Role of psychology in trading – Everybody talks about discipline/patience but how does that relate to trading success.

Contact details

If you are interested to learn from us, please contact below

Email: pftrader@outlook.com / marketswithmadan@gmail.com

Mobile: +91 – 78240 21649 (B.Krishnakumar) or +91 – 96770 36689 (Madan Kumar)

Reasons and lessons behind blowing up trading accounts

Mentoring

“Blowing up” means we took the account down to basically zero, where we couldn’t place a trade any longer, or something similarly distressing.

As many of you know already, I have blown up a couple accounts in my days. None for many years thankfully, but it has happened. I view it as part of the learning experience, and naturally in hindsight it would be very easy to see why I blew up, and that I deserved it.

We can’t expect to make poor trades and be consistently profitable. Blowing up an account (no matter how large or small) isn’t necessary to become successful, but it has a tendency to smack us on the head with reality. It also seems to separate the pretenders from the contenders.

If we are willing to evaluate the damages after blowing up, then regroup and come back to attack with the new knowledge gained, we’re on our way. There’s no guarantee of success, but we’re a step closer than we were before. Like the old proverb says – “A man who wishes to travel a 100 miles should consider himself halfway at 90 miles.

Let us stick to the point here for a moment. There are numerous reasons for blowing up an account and I would like to highlight a few here.

Reasons for blowing up an account

1. Trading without stoploss

I can still clearly recall several times in my trading career where I thought I had solved the puzzle, and literally unlocked the mystic gateway (holy grail) to making money in trading. During those times, I would repetitively see the price hitting my SL and atleast come back to original entry point(or move into profits). This created a new connection in my brain and the next time the trade goes near the stoploss, I would gladly remove(or move the SL away from the entry further) the SL as market has a tendency to come back to breakeven point. Boy, I was so wrong. This can be brutal to the trading account.

2. Focusing on potential gains and not potential losses – ignoring risk

When we do focus on potential gains and not on potential losses, we tend to trade bigger (by usually using more leverage and not necessarily more capital) or risk more to get those desired returns.

Those who focus on making as much money as possible while ignoring risk will invariably lose the majority of their accounts. No matter how talented we are, we will face ruin, just as Jesse Livermore did and Victor Niederhoffer did on several occasions. Even the best traders like Alexander Elder and Nicolas Darvas blew up accounts when they first got started. Why? We simply can’t out trade the risk of ruin. If we risk a consistent 10% of our initial starting capital per trade we are done after just 10 losses. Everyone who has traded for any length of time has had ten losses in a row. If we risk 1% of our total starting capital per trade, 10 losses in a row will only bring us down 10%.

3. Not tracking the trades

A trader executes a strategy (usually not well-tested) and accumulates losses due to standard drawdown. But, without a trading journal, it is almost impossible to know where we are or are going, if we have no record of where we have been. I strongly believe one of the best things a trader can do is start keeping a journal.

Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case for most of the traders. In the process of selecting candidates for mentoring, I had talked to at-least 60 people and the common theme among these budding traders is that they never maintain a history of their trades.

Lessons learned from blowing up an account

1. Taking responsibility for our actions

What I learned during these painful events was that I was wrong. I took responsibility. That is the first step.

Taking responsibility is the key. Accepting that we (temporarily) failed, and that we don’t know everything. From there, we can start building a solid foundation. We should be asking questions like what happened and why. This isn’t so much about investigating specific trades, but instead analyzing our overall behavior.

For example, did we bring a new methodology from forums/twitter without fully testing it? This is a difficult lesson to learn, particularly because most people simply don’t know how to properly test. So then, we would have to acknowledge we didn’t test properly (if at all), and go about learning how to do that.

2. Maintaining proper risk management

Another very difficult lesson was that we can be right about a trade, but still lose money. The market can remain irrational longer than we can remain solvent. This lesson involves learning about risk and proper money management, so that when we are in a bad trade it doesn’t do crushing damage to our account.

A key lesson is that we must live to fight another day. The single most important factor in trading is survival. The longer our survive, the more experience we gain, and eventually given enough time that experience will become valuable by providing we an edge over all of those with less of it.

3. Recording the trades – Trading Journal

The lesson we learn from the journal is not about recording our trades and screenshots, it is about learning our behavior. We must routinely go back and analyze what we have written, identify mistakes and patterns. Learning about our strengths and weaknesses in an objective way is crucial, so that we can then further develop in those areas. It is critical to be honest in our journal. It is important to talk about why we made a trade or decision, not just list the entry and exit price. It will also be helpful if we record our emotions during entry, while in the trade and during exit. This would clearly demarcate our emotions during those times and would reflect back on which feelings are overwhelming us and when.

4. Get out of simulated(paper) trading

Many aspiring traders sit on simulated environment (paper trading) for a long time – sometime months and even years together. I always advocate that paper trading is virtually worthless as a learning tool (unless it is done to understand about the trading software nitty-gritties) and when I unequivocally put that point across, people can’t reconcile that thought easily as it directly undermine their dream of becoming a successful trader one day.

The fact is, the majority of people are not good traders and are not cut out to make it in this business. It is a very harsh reality, but there is no denying it. Unfortunately, everyone thinks they are the exception to the rule.

If we want to be the exception to the rule, then we have to be put ourselves in a competitive position. That means being sufficiently capitalized, and having sufficient real trading experience (again, paper trading does not count).

You don’t have to take my word for it. Everyone that goes from paper trading to cash loses money, no matter how much of a rock star they were on paper trading. It’s my belief that the longer we are on simulated environment, the worse we condition our mind for bad behavior and thus the more likely we are to fail as a real trader. Again, you don’t have to take my word for it, it has been proven countless times before.

The entire point I am making — paper trading is not trading education. The real education is obtained once we start trading cash. We do not need to risk our monthly salary. Just start by risking a small amount and get off that orgasm-inducing paper trading.

Final thoughts

When we blow up an account, it is time to ask tough questions to ourselves – are we willing to commit the time (and money) that this profession takes to succeed? Look at it like any other profession. We need years of dedication and experience to become successful and even then, it still doesn’t happen for everyone.

When we have a stake in the game, it is completely unlikely what it seems to be when we are just watching it. We will find that trading is mostly about the acceptance and management of risk, and the management of our own reactions when we have money on the line, and are either making it or losing it. Both success and failure have their own psychological/emotional pressures, both can garble our judgment, and learning to handle the issues that both give is probably more than 90 percent of what real trading is about. The things that we are able to learn by studying the market are about 10 percent of the puzzle, if that. Really.

Happy trading all !!

Trading Q&A – Discipline

Mentoring

Someone asked me a question on ‘how to be disciplined all the time?’ and there was no easy answer. He was disciplined in following his plan most of the times but could not do it 100%. Tried my best to address this typical mindset.

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

Question:

“Is/was breaking system/method rules a problem for anyone here? How did you/do you plan to overcome it? It is a problem I struggle with often, I have many days when I dont break rules and suddenly, the gambler in me, the tuktuk in me all get out on a single day and try to destroy my profits. It is not a continuous thing, I do follow rules most days, the gambler and tuktuk guy remain suppressed until one day they rear their ugly heads. Would be great to get some help in overcoming this failure in part, almost feels like a character flaw”

Answer:

We all go through this from time to time. If a trader is disciplined 90 pct of the time and if occasionally there is a lack in trading discipline, the reasons could be multifold —

Probable causes of the problem:

1. Lack of fit between the trader and the trading system

Discipline problems are not due to trading woes. Usually, there is an underlying problem. Just as a problem maintaining the “discipline” of monogamy in a marriage is frequently the result of underlying relationship difficulties, failing to be faithful to one’s trading plans is often a sign of conflict between the trader and those trading plans.

When traders who are normally disciplined find themselves breaking their trading rules, the momentary lack of discipline are a symptom of a lack of fit between who the traders are and what their rules demand. A fine system on paper is unprofitable if it cannot be followed by a trader. A trading method not only needs to be good; it needs to be good for the trader. A trader and a trading system should be like lock and key – it should be a perfect match !!

2. Trader trying to fulfill his short term needs

Sometimes, the lack of discipline involve failing to take trades that are indicated. Other times, the problem is one of overtrading – taking trades that lie outside of one’s rules. If we think of momentary lack of discipline in other areas–cheating on a diet, for example, or procrastinating on work that needs to be completed–we can see that, many times, we act against our longer-term self-interest by becoming caught up in shorter-term needs. If, for example, we cannot tolerate boredom, we might eat to fill the void and break our diet.

Solutions

Problem # 1

Keep a journal and truly investigate each of your small trading discipline slips. Then view those slips as information, not as problems. What do they say about you? Which rules do you find yourself breaking, and what is actually conflicting with those rules?

Now look at your trading successes. What came naturally to you? What rules and plans can be derived from those winning trades? Don’t force yourself into a pre-made set of trading plans (usually derived from somebody else’s plan) but rather, identify what you do when you win and see how you can make *that* into your system. This is one of the primary reasons why ‘copying’ someone’s system never work in the long run.

Problem # 2

When discipline works, it’s often because people have found constructive ways to meet those short-term needs. The smoker who craves a cigarette may chew gum as a substitute oral activity.

The key to sustaining discipline is to identify the specific short-term needs that are occasionally overshadowing trading rules. Once you’ve made that identification, it is easier to then brainstorm constructive ways of addressing those needs. Traders who overtrade, for example, often have problems during quiet market times. Their needs are for stimulation. By creating stimulating activities during the trading day that don’t take them away from their screens, they can avoid using unwanted market activity as their stimulation.

Other times, traders fail to follow their rules because they don’t truly have confidence in their ideas. They front-run their own signals out of anxiety and wait for perfection in setups before they act. Their short-term needs often are for safety and security – they need to believe in what they’re doing. Very often this problem occurs when traders have short-circuited their learning curves. They are putting meaningful capital at risk before they’ve done small real-time trading that is needed to build a successful track record. You believe in your system when you see, in your own experience, that it works over time, across market conditions.

So, keep working on your problems and am sure you will better off gradually!!

Good luck and hope it helps

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 !!

Basic pillars of trading success

Impatience

When I first started full-time trading, I was always looking to find/figure out a system with best win-rate and highest return possible. As years passed by, I came to terms with other tenets of trading that ‘actually’ makes the difference in shifting from unprofitable to a consistently profitable trader. This post is about those tenets and it might sound trivial to seasoned traders but it is always good to revisit basics every now and then. We tend to ignore the basics as we move on (this applies to all kinds of profession/business).

1. Trade Plan – In order to be successful, we must have a detailed trading plan that we trust, respect, and most importantly — follow (easier said than done, right?). We wouldn’t decide to build our next home from scratch without blueprints/floor plans, why would we step into trading without a plan?

Firstly, we need a written plan that goes over rules. I repeat – ‘written plan‘ covering every scenario of our trading profession. These are when we will, and when we will not trade. I am not just talking about technical analysis, I am also talking about “I will not trade when I am not 100% focused and in the zone”. “I will not trade when am traveling or my dog is sick” The trading plan also needs to describe, in detail, our trading methodology. Describe our setups. What actions do we take when we get stopped out? What actions do we take when a trade is going against us?

Secondly, we must be ready to execute our trade when our setup shows up and meets all of our rules. If we hesitate as the market unfolds, we can/will lose money.

Hope we all have written rules and read over them every day to make it second-nature. After few months, we should be able to say if we have a setup or not in 20 seconds (looking at any chart).

2. Focus – Trading profession must be respected. We must be focused. Disciplined. No two ways about it. We can’t have constant interruptions and distractions around our workplace if we expect to become a good trader. Many traders say it is like war, we are literally doing battle for life or death in the trading world. This is the only profession I know of, wherein we put a part of our net-worth on line every single day. How can we expect to win if our phone is constantly ringing, or if our kids are playing in our office, our dogs barking, or if we are replying to emails/forum posts? I don’t think those things would go over well in a real battlefield. The amount of respect and diligence we give to a profession is directly proportional to the level of success in it (Work is Worship)

Our trading environment needs to be calm, private, and comfortable. Turning our cell phone off (or atleast put on silent), closing email inboxes, and explain to the family that we cannot be interrupted. Make ourselves comfortable, relax. Buy a nice office chair and comfortable table. We need to be “in the zone”.

Many of us enjoy the ability to work from home, but it must be treated with respect. If we can have a few uninterrupted hours/make great trades and earn a living, then have the rest of evening to devote to the family (am not sure what to say to folks who trade equities and commodities in a single day – work/life balance is the biggest factor in determining happiness in any profession)

3. Education – It is interesting how many traders believe they can make 50 lacs/year after one year of looking at charts and reading books. Why would one think that trading requires less education than a lawyer or a doctor? These professionals spend years, learning their trade. A successful trader should expect to spend years as well.

Education is not free. Most successful traders blow out their account at least once or twice before they went on to make money. It might help to think of this as tuition, instead of as losing money. Education is expensive in other ways as well, not just financially but also mentally, emotionally, and time consuming (a typical professional degree takes 4 years). We have to devote ourselves to it in the same way a professional athlete would do before running a marathon. They don’t just wake up one morning and grab something at a restaurant to eat before they run the marathon. No – they train for months to condition their bodies, have strict diets, follow rigorous training day-in/day-out.

We need to condition ourselves for trading, and to do that we have to educate ourselves. Books, videos, classes, the Internet, and probably most important – ‘firsthand experience’ which takes us to the next point.

4. Experience – Education is important, but experience is key. Why do employers prefer candidates with not only college degrees but also on the job experience? Simple – experience is the most powerful way to learn/hone our skills. Putting what we’ve learned into practice is not easy. The experience of actually trading, not just reading about it, is what will really motivate us to learn and be successful.

We can read about support and resistance, or read about taking the emotion out of trading. But until we experience a trade that stops on some value because of support/resistance, and furthermore, it stops us out of a trade that we were confident would be a winner, then we really can’t fully understand the importance of what we read about (support/resistance and emotions). Best analogy I can think of – reading 100’s of books about swimming and dreaming to be a great swimmer. Unless we jump into the pool, real swimming can never be learned.

With experience comes wisdom, and wisdom is required to properly assess our trading. I think most successful traders had that “ah-ha!” moment when they realized that they were the problem (ie: look ourselves in the mirror, the problem is that we are not following our own rules). We cannot have that epiphany if we lack the experience and wisdom to be a proper judge, even of ourselves. Very important point to remember.

Everyone will recommend that new traders do ‘demo-trading’ until they are profitable. But they also realize that 1) they didn’t follow this rule themselves, and 2) even if they had, they would not have learned the same lessons until they traded and lost ‘real’ money. Demo trading is great (am not striking that down), but it is more like being on the outside looking in. It is not until we’ve placed real trades and lost enough money to be “painful” that we will start to change our ways, our rules, ourselves. That is because we are gaining experience by learning from the past.

5. Tools of the trade – The proper tools are essential for making money in any profession. Tools can range from our computer, our software, our internet connection and backup facilities. We need to probe our tools for weaknesses and if it is displaying a major flaw, correct it. For instance, don’t trade if the Internet connection is unreliable. We need to correct that. Don’t trade if our computer is too slow and our charts freeze during heavy market volume. Don’t trade if the broker terminal freezes during busy market hours (seems to be a popular topic among traders nowadays)

Indicators are also tools and many traders have way, way too many indicators on their charts. Some traders have none, trading strictly based on price action. If our chart has too many indicators, we will get conflicting signals. I suggest starting with a clean chart, and then adding only the absolute essential tools/indicators(if one trades based on indicators) to it. Too many of them can lead to ‘paralysis of analysis’.

Also want to emphasize the importance of picking the right broker (w.r.t cost) and data feed, not to mention charting and execution platform. Official data feeds are not expensive nowadays and am sure we would not let our head go into a MRI machine if we know the lab is using unauthorized MRI machine to image our skull. All these things matter in the long run!!

To end this post, take what I have said to heart. Trading is not for everyone – so if we are having trouble accommodating the above-mentioned information, then we might want to consider another profession. It would almost certainly be a lot easier on ourselves, our family, and our bank account. However, for those of us who push onward and conquer our demons, the benefits of being a successful trader are endless. It is, after all, the near-perfect job – in my opinion.

Force ourselves to realize there is no Holy Grail. The way to make money in trading is not by having the perfect indicator or automated strategy or the perfect Amibroker AFL. No, no, no – the way to make money in trading lies within our ability to understand ourselves and become an expert in the market we are trading. There are no short cuts.

Happy trading !!