Every successful trader has a winning system. There are of course, as many systems out there, as there are traders. Some systems get you to buy on strength and sell on weakness others do the opposite.
Some investors succeed as value investors , a la Warren Buffet ; others make their millions in momentum trading . I have even heard of an astrologist who uses the stars to trade profitably. Although, there are a variety of methods, the point I am trying to illustrate here is this: there are many ways to profit from the markets, but you ultimately must devise a system that is your own, because the personalization will act as a motivational discipline to stick with the plan.
There is however, one common element amongst all successful traders. . . they have a systematic way they approach the market. This approach is unique. In reality, no two people have exactly the same amount of money, tolerance for risk, personality, time or experience. Therefore, the key to success is to design a system that is suited for you.
Many traders fail because they do not assess how well a trading system matches their temperament. Instead, they chase fads, searching for the “Holy Grail" of trading success; or they waste their money on the latest investing software or buying up the tapes of the latest self-proclaimed stock market guru.
The fact is there is no perfect system. Successful investors succeed because they choose a system that they feel comfortable with, not one that claims to be the current trend. A cool, disciplined trader will make money with an “average" system, while a nervous, arbitrary trader will wreck a “brilliant" system.
The key is to develop a methodology that maximizes your strengths and minimizes your weaknesses. Nevertheless, how do you do that? First, define your objectives.
Ask yourself these questions:
1. Am I designing a trading plan for cash flow or capital growth?
2. Do I want to trade part time or full time?
3. How much money can I work with?
4. What annual rate of return do I want? (Note: the higher the return, usually the higher the risk).
Decisions such as these will have the largest impact on the style of your trading system.
For example, if your goal is cash flow and low risk, buying or selling at extreme levels (overbought/oversold) is an unlikely style. If your goals center on quick capital growth, high returns and high risk, then bottom picking strategies and gap trading may be your style.
I had one client that was a wiz at buying and selling on eBay. This person was a beginner so I suggested buying the trade closer to the 52-week low, then selling the trade when it foresaw a profit.
Entries and exits must be precise and must follow a strict set of rules.
Styles range from aggressive day traders looking to scalp few point gains to investors looking to capitalize on long-term macro economic trends. In between, there are a whole host of possible combinations including swing traders, position traders, aggressive growth investors, value investors and contrarians.
Moreover, your style will depend on your level of commitment and experience. Day traders are likely to pursue an aggressive style with high activity levels. The goals would focus on quick trades, small profits and very tight stop-loss levels. For this, the trader uses intraday charts to provide timely entry and exit points. A high level of commitment, focus and energy would be required.
On the other hand, position traders are likely to use intraday charts and pursue 1-8 week price movements. Focused goals on short to intermediate price movements and the level of commitment, while still substantial, would be less than a day trader.
With this in mind, be sure to define your trading objectives as best as you can. Unless your system matches your own criteria, you will never make big profits. You need to ask yourself the simple question: “I am trading in the market because I want to _". . .
Answer this and you are well on your way to setting your portfolio objectives.
David Jenyns is recognized as the leading expert when it
comes to designing profitable trading systems.
His most recent course Ultimate Trading Systems is a step-
by-step trading roadmap to designing profitable trading
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