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Former investment bank FX trader: Risk management part 3/3
Welcome to the third and final part of this chapter. Thank you all for the 100s of comments and upvotes - maybe this post will take us above 1,000 for this topic! Keep any feedback or questions coming in the replies below. Before you read this note, please start with Part I and then Part II so it hangs together and makes sense. Part III
Squeezes and other risks
Crap trades, timeouts and monthly limits
Squeezes and other risks
We are going to cover three common risks that traders face: events; squeezes, asymmetric bets.
Economic releases can cause large short-term volatility. The most famous is Non Farm Payrolls, which is the most widely watched measure of US employment levels and affects the price of many instruments.On an NFP announcement currencies like EURUSD might jump (or drop) 100 pips no problem. This is fine and there are trading strategies that one may employ around this but the key thing is to be aware of these releases.You can find economic calendars all over the internet - including on this site - and you need only check if there are any major releases each day or week. For example, if you are trading off some intraday chart and scalping a few pips here and there it would be highly sensible to go into a known data release flat as it is pure coin-toss and not the reason for your trading. It only takes five minutes each day to plan for the day ahead so do not get caught out by this. Many retail traders get stopped out on such events when price volatility is at its peak.
Short squeezes bring a lot of danger and perhaps some opportunity. The story of VW and Porsche is the best short squeeze ever. Throughout these articles we've used FX examples wherever possible but in this one instance the concept (which is also highly relevant in FX) is best illustrated with an historical lesson from a different asset class. A short squeeze is when a participant ends up in a short position they are forced to cover. Especially when the rest of the market knows that this participant can be bullied into stopping out at terrible levels, provided the market can briefly drive the price into their pain zone. There's a reason for the car, don't worry Hedge funds had been shorting VW stock. However the amount of VW stock available to buy in the open market was actually quite limited. The local government owned a chunk and Porsche itself had bought and locked away around 30%. Neither of these would sell to the hedge-funds so a good amount of the stock was un-buyable at any price. If you sell or short a stock you must be prepared to buy it back to go flat at some point. To cut a long story short, Porsche bought a lot of call options on VW stock. These options gave them the right to purchase VW stock from banks at slightly above market price. Eventually the banks who had sold these options realised there was no VW stock to go out and buy since the German government wouldn’t sell its allocation and Porsche wouldn’t either. If Porsche called in the options the banks were in trouble. Porsche called in the options which forced the shorts to buy stock - at whatever price they could get it. The price squeezed higher as those that were short got massively squeezed and stopped out. For one brief moment in 2008, VW was the world’s most valuable company. Shorts were burned hard. Incredible event Porsche apparently made $11.5 billion on the trade. The BBC described Porsche as “a hedge fund with a carmaker attached.” If this all seems exotic then know that the same thing happens in FX all the time. If everyone in the market is talking about a key level in EURUSD being 1.2050 then you can bet the market will try to push through 1.2050 just to take out any short stops at that level. Whether it then rallies higher or fails and trades back lower is a different matter entirely. This brings us on to the matter of crowded trades. We will look at positioning in more detail in the next section. Crowded trades are dangerous for PNL. If everyone believes EURUSD is going down and has already sold EURUSD then you run the risk of a short squeeze. For additional selling to take place you need a very good reason for people to add to their position whereas a move in the other direction could force mass buying to cover their shorts. A trading mentor when I worked at the investment bank once advised me: Always think about which move would cause the maximum people the maximum pain. That move is precisely what you should be watching out for at all times.
Also known as picking up pennies in front of a steamroller. This risk has caught out many a retail trader. Sometimes it is referred to as a "negative skew" strategy. Ideally what you are looking for is asymmetric risk trade set-ups: that is where the downside is clearly defined and smaller than the upside. What you want to avoid is the opposite. A famous example of this going wrong was the Swiss National Bank de-peg in 2012. The Swiss National Bank had said they would defend the price of EURCHF so that it did not go below 1.2. Many people believed it could never go below 1.2 due to this. Many retail traders therefore opted for a strategy that some describe as ‘picking up pennies in front of a steam-roller’. They would would buy EURCHF above the peg level and hope for a tiny rally of several pips before selling them back and keep doing this repeatedly. Often they were highly leveraged at 100:1 so that they could amplify the profit of the tiny 5-10 pip rally. Then this happened. Something that changed FX markets forever The SNB suddenly did the unthinkable. They stopped defending the price. CHF jumped and so EURCHF (the number of CHF per 1 EUR) dropped to new lows very fast. Clearly, this trade had horrific risk : reward asymmetry: you risked 30% to make 0.05%. Other strategies like naively selling options have the same result. You win a small amount of money each day and then spectacularly blow up at some point down the line.
We have talked about short squeezes. But how do you know what the market position is? And should you care? Let’s start with the first. You should definitely care. Let’s imagine the entire market is exceptionally long EURUSD and positioning reaches extreme levels. This makes EURUSD very vulnerable. To keep the price going higher EURUSD needs to attract fresh buy orders. If everyone is already long and has no room to add, what can incentivise people to keep buying? The news flow might be good. They may believe EURUSD goes higher. But they have already bought and have their maximum position on. On the flip side, if there’s an unexpected event and EURUSD gaps lower you will have the entire market trying to exit the position at the same time. Like a herd of cows running through a single doorway. Messy. We are going to look at this in more detail in a later chapter, where we discuss ‘carry’ trades. For now this TRYJPY chart might provide some idea of what a rush to the exits of a crowded position looks like. A carry trade position clear-out in action Knowing if the market is currently at extreme levels of long or short can therefore be helpful. The CFTC makes available a weekly report, which details the overall positions of speculative traders “Non Commercial Traders” in some of the major futures products. This includes futures tied to deliverable FX pairs such as EURUSD as well as products such as gold. The report is called “CFTC Commitments of Traders” ("COT"). This is a great benchmark. It is far more representative of the overall market than the proprietary ones offered by retail brokers as it covers a far larger cross-section of the institutional market. Generally market participants will not pay a lot of attention to commercial hedgers, which are also detailed in the report. This data is worth tracking but these folks are simply hedging real-world transactions rather than speculating so their activity is far less revealing and far more noisy. You can find the data online for free and download it directly here. Raw format is kinda hard to work with However, many websites will chart this for you free of charge and you may find it more convenient to look at it that way. Just google “CFTC positioning charts”. But you can easily get visualisations You can visually spot extreme positioning. It is extremely powerful. Bear in mind the reports come out Friday afternoon US time and the report is a snapshot up to the prior Tuesday. That means it is a lagged report - by the time it is released it is a few days out of date. For longer term trades where you hold positions for weeks this is of course still pretty helpful information. As well as the absolute level (is the speculative market net long or short) you can also use this to pick up on changes in positioning. For example if bad news comes out how much does the net short increase? If good news comes out, the market may remain net short but how much did they buy back? A lot of traders ask themselves “Does the market have this trade on?” The positioning data is a good method for answering this. It provides a good finger on the pulse of the wider market sentiment and activity. For example you might say: “There was lots of noise about the good employment numbers in the US. However, there wasn’t actually a lot of position change on the back of it. Maybe everyone who wants to buy already has. What would happen now if bad news came out?” In general traders will be wary of entering a crowded position because it will be hard to attract additional buyers or sellers and there could be an aggressive exit. If you want to enter a trade that is showing extreme levels of positioning you must think carefully about this dynamic.
Retail traders often drastically underestimate how correlated their bets are. Through bitter experience, I have learned that a mistake in position correlation is the root of some of the most serious problems in trading. If you have eight highly correlated positions, then you are really trading one position that is eight times as large. Bruce Kovner of hedge fund, Caxton Associates For example, if you are trading a bunch of pairs against the USD you will end up with a simply huge USD exposure. A single USD-trigger can ruin all your bets. Your ideal scenario — and it isn’t always possible — would be to have a highly diversified portfolio of bets that do not move in tandem. Look at this chart. Inverted USD index (DXY) is green. AUDUSD is orange. EURUSD is blue. Chart from TradingView So the whole thing is just one big USD trade! If you are long AUDUSD, long EURUSD, and short DXY you have three anti USD bets that are all likely to work or fail together. The more diversified your portfolio of bets are, the more risk you can take on each. There’s a really good video, explaining the benefits of diversification from Ray Dalio. A systematic fund with access to an investable universe of 10,000 instruments has more opportunity to make a better risk-adjusted return than a trader who only focuses on three symbols. Diversification really is the closest thing to a free lunch in finance. But let’s be pragmatic and realistic. Human retail traders don’t have capacity to run even one hundred bets at a time. More realistic would be an average of 2-3 trades on simultaneously. So what can be done? For example:
You might diversify across time horizons by having a mix of short-term and long-term trades.
You might diversify across asset classes - trading some FX but also crypto and equities.
You might diversify your trade generation approach so you are not relying on the same indicators or drivers on each trade.
You might diversify your exposure to the market regime by having some trades that assume a trend will continue (momentum) and some that assume we will be range-bound (carry).
And so on. Basically you want to scan your portfolio of trades and make sure you are not putting all your eggs in one basket. If some trades underperform others will perform - assuming the bets are not correlated - and that way you can ensure your overall portfolio takes less risk per unit of return. The key thing is to start thinking about a portfolio of bets and what each new trade offers to your existing portfolio of risk. Will it diversify or amplify a current exposure?
Crap trades, timeouts and monthly limits
One common mistake is to get bored and restless and put on crap trades. This just means trades in which you have low conviction. It is perfectly fine not to trade. If you feel like you do not understand the market at a particular point, simply choose not to trade. Flat is a position. Do not waste your bullets on rubbish trades. Only enter a trade when you have carefully considered it from all angles and feel good about the risk. This will make it far easier to hold onto the trade if it moves against you at any point. You actually believe in it. Equally, you need to set monthly limits. A standard limit might be a 10% account balance stop per month. At that point you close all your positions immediately and stop trading till next month. Be strict with yourself and walk away Let’s assume you started the year with $100k and made 5% in January so enter Feb with $105k balance. Your stop is therefore 10% of $105k or $10.5k . If your account balance dips to $94.5k ($105k-$10.5k) then you stop yourself out and don’t resume trading till March the first. Having monthly calendar breaks is nice for another reason. Say you made a load of money in January. You don’t want to start February feeling you are up 5% or it is too tempting to avoid trading all month and protect the existing win. Each month and each year should feel like a clean slate and an independent period. Everyone has trading slumps. It is perfectly normal. It will definitely happen to you at some stage. The trick is to take a break and refocus. Conserve your capital by not trading a lot whilst you are on a losing streak. This period will be much harder for you emotionally and you’ll end up making suboptimal decisions. An enforced break will help you see the bigger picture. Put in place a process before you start trading and then it’ll be easy to follow and will feel much less emotional. Remember: the market doesn’t care if you win or lose, it is nothing personal. When your head has cooled and you feel calm you return the next month and begin the task of building back your account balance.
That's a wrap on risk management
Thanks for taking time to read this three-part chapter on risk management. I hope you enjoyed it. Do comment in the replies if you have any questions or feedback. Remember: the most important part of trading is not making money. It is not losing money. Always start with that principle. I hope these three notes have provided some food for thought on how you might approach risk management and are of practical use to you when trading. Avoiding mistakes is not a sexy tagline but it is an effective and reliable way to improve results. Next up I will be writing about an exciting topic I think many traders should look at rather differently: news trading. Please follow on here to receive notifications and the broad outline is below. News Trading Part I
Why use the economic calendar
Reading the economic calendar
Knowing what's priced in
First order thinking vs second order thinking
News Trading Part II
Preparing for quantitative and qualitative releases
Data surprise index
Using recent events to predict future reactions
Buy the rumour, sell the fact
The mysterious 'position trim' effect
Some key FX releases
*** Disclaimer:This content is not investment advice and you should not place any reliance on it. The views expressed are the author's own and should not be attributed to any other person, including their employer.
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The majority of this sub is focused on technical analysis. I regularly ridicule such "tea leaf readers" and advocate for trading based on fundamentals and economic news instead, so I figured I should take the time to write up something on how exactly you can trade economic news releases. This post is long as balls so I won't be upset if you get bored and go back to your drooping dick patterns or whatever.
How economic news is released
First, it helps to know how economic news is compiled and released. Let's take Initial Jobless Claims, the number of initial claims for unemployment benefits around the United States from Sunday through Saturday. Initial in this context means the first claim for benefits made by an individual during a particular stretch of unemployment. The Initial Jobless Claims figure appears in the Department of Labor's Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report, which compiles information from all of the per-state departments that report to the DOL during the week. A typical number is between 100k and 250k and it can vary quite significantly week-to-week. The Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report contains data that lags 5 days behind. For example, the Report issued on Thursday March 26th 2020 contained data about the week ending on Saturday March 21st 2020. In the days leading up to the Report, financial companies will survey economists and run complicated mathematical models to forecast the upcoming Initial Jobless Claims figure. The results of surveyed experts is called the "consensus"; specific companies, experts, and websites will also provide their own forecasts. Different companies will release different consensuses. Usually they are pretty close (within 2-3k), but for last week's record-high Initial Jobless Claims the reported consensuses varied by up to 1M! In other words, there was essentially no consensus. The Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report is released each Thursday morning at exactly 8:30 AM ET. (On Thanksgiving the Report is released on Wednesday instead.) Media representatives gather at the Frances Perkins Building in Washington DC and are admitted to the "lockup" at 8:00 AM ET. In order to be admitted to the lockup you have to be a credentialed member of a media organization that has signed the DOL lockup agreement. The lockup room is small so there is a limited number of spots. No phones are allowed. Reporters bring their laptops and connect to a local network; there is a master switch on the wall that prevents/enables Internet connectivity on this network. Once the doors are closed the Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report is distributed, with a heading that announces it is "embargoed" (not to be released) prior to 8:30 AM. Reporters type up their analyses of the report, including extracting key figures like Initial Jobless Claims. They load their write-ups into their companies' software, which prepares to send it out as soon as Internet is enabled. At 8:30 AM the DOL representative in the room flips the wall switch and all of the laptops are connected to the Internet, releasing their write-ups to their companies and on to their companies' partners. Many of those media companies have externally accessible APIs for distributing news. Media aggregators and squawk services (like RanSquawk and TradeTheNews) subscribe to all of these different APIs and then redistribute the key economic figures from the Report to their own subscribers within one second after Internet is enabled in the DOL lockup. Some squawk services are text-based while others are audio-based. FinancialJuice.com provides a free audio squawk service; internally they have a paid subscription to a professional squawk service and they simply read out the latest headlines to their own listeners, subsidized by ads on the site. I've been using it for 4 months now and have been pretty happy. It usually lags behind the official release times by 1-2 seconds and occasionally they verbally flub the numbers or stutter and have to repeat, but you can't beat the price! Important - I’m not affiliated with FinancialJuice and I’m not advocating that you use them over any other squawk. If you use them and they misspeak a number and you lose all your money don’t blame me. If anybody has any other free alternatives please share them!
How the news affects forex markets
Institutional forex traders subscribe to these squawk services and use custom software to consume the emerging data programmatically and then automatically initiate trades based on the perceived change to the fundamentals that the figures represent. It's important to note that every institution will have "priced in" their own forecasted figures well in advance of an actual news release. Forecasts and consensuses all come out at different times in the days leading up to a news release, so by the time the news drops everybody is really only looking for an unexpected result. You can't really know what any given institution expects the value to be, but unless someone has inside information you can pretty much assume that the market has collectively priced in the experts' consensus. When the news comes out, institutions will trade based on the difference between the actual and their forecast. Sometimes the news reflects a real change to the fundamentals with an economic effect that will change the demand for a currency, like an interest rate decision. However, in the case of the Initial Jobless Claims figure, which is a backwards-looking metric, trading is really just self-fulfilling speculation that market participants will buy dollars when unemployment is low and sell dollars when unemployment is high. Generally speaking, news that reflects a real economic shift has a bigger effect than news that only matters to speculators. Massive and extremely fast news-based trades happen within tenths of a second on the ECNs on which institutional traders are participants. Over the next few seconds the resulting price changes trickle down to retail traders. Some economic news, like Non Farm Payroll Employment, has an effect that can last minutes to hours as "slow money" follows behind on the trend created by the "fast money". Other news, like Initial Jobless Claims, has a short impact that trails off within a couple minutes and is subsequently dwarfed by the usual pseudorandom movements in the market. The bigger the difference between actual and consensus, the bigger the effect on any given currency pair. Since economic news releases generally relate to a single currency, the biggest and most easily predicted effects are seen on pairs where one currency is directly effected and the other is not affected at all. Personally I trade USD/JPY because the time difference between the US and Japan ensures that no news will be coming out of Japan at the same time that economic news is being released in the US. Before deciding to trade any particular news release you should measure the historical correlation between the release (specifically, the difference between actual and consensus) and the resulting short-term change in the currency pair. Historical data for various news releases (along with historical consensus data) is readily available. You can pay to get it exported into Excel or whatever, or you can scroll through it for free on websites like TradingEconomics.com. Let's look at two examples: Initial Jobless Claims and Non Farm Payroll Employment (NFP). I collected historical consensuses and actuals for these releases from January 2018 through the present, measured the "surprise" difference for each, and then correlated that to short-term changes in USD/JPY at the time of release using 5 second candles. I omitted any releases that occurred simultaneously as another major release. For example, occasionally the monthly Initial Jobless Claims comes out at the exact same time as the monthly Balance of Trade figure, which is a more significant economic indicator and can be expected to dwarf the effect of the Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report. USD/JPY correlation with Initial Jobless Claims (2018 - present) USD/JPY correlation with Non Farm Payrolls (2018 - present) The horizontal axes on these charts is the duration (in seconds) after the news release over which correlation was calculated. The vertical axis is the Pearson correlation coefficient: +1 means that the change in USD/JPY over that duration was perfectly linearly correlated to the "surprise" in the releases; -1 means that the change in USD/JPY was perfectly linearly correlated but in the opposite direction, and 0 means that there is no correlation at all. For Initial Jobless Claims you can see that for the first 30 seconds USD/JPY is strongly negatively correlated with the difference between consensus and actual jobless claims. That is, fewer-than-forecast jobless claims (fewer newly unemployed people than expected) strengthens the dollar and greater-than-forecast jobless claims (more newly unemployed people than expected) weakens the dollar. Correlation then trails off and changes to a moderate/weak positive correlation. I interpret this as algorithms "buying the dip" and vice versa, but I don't know for sure. From this chart it appears that you could profit by opening a trade for 15 seconds (duration with strongest correlation) that is long USD/JPY when Initial Jobless Claims is lower than the consensus and short USD/JPY when Initial Jobless Claims is higher than expected. The chart for Non Farm Payroll looks very different. Correlation is positive (higher-than-expected payrolls strengthen the dollar and lower-than-expected payrolls weaken the dollar) and peaks at around 45 seconds, then slowly decreases as time goes on. This implies that price changes due to NFP are quite significant relative to background noise and "stick" even as normal fluctuations pick back up. I wanted to show an example of what the USD/JPY S5 chart looks like when an "uncontested" (no other major simultaneously news release) Initial Jobless Claims and NFP drops, but unfortunately my broker's charts only go back a week. (I can pull historical data going back years through the API but to make it into a pretty chart would be a bit of work.) If anybody can get a 5-second chart of USD/JPY at March 19, 2020, UTC 12:30 and/or at February 7, 2020, UTC 13:30 let me know and I'll add it here.
So without too much effort we determined that (1) USD/JPY is strongly negatively correlated with the Initial Jobless Claims figure for the first 15 seconds after the release of the Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report (when no other major news is being released) and also that (2) USD/JPY is strongly positively correlated with the Non Farms Payroll figure for the first 45 seconds after the release of the Employment Situation report. Before you can assume you can profit off the news you have to backtest and consider three important parameters. Entry speed: How quickly can you realistically enter the trade? The correlation performed above was measured from the exact moment the news was released, but realistically if you've got your finger on the trigger and your ear to the squawk it will take a few seconds to hit "Buy" or "Sell" and confirm. If 90% of the price move happens in the first second you're SOL. For back-testing purposes I assume a 5 second delay. In practice I use custom software that opens a trade with one click, and I can reliably enter a trade within 2-3 seconds after the news drops, using the FinancialJuice free squawk. Minimum surprise: Should you trade every release or can you do better by only trading those with a big enough "surprise" factor? Backtesting will tell you whether being more selective is better long-term or not. Hold time: The optimal time to hold the trade is not necessarily the same as the time of maximum correlation. That's a good starting point but it's not necessarily the best number. Backtesting each possible hold time will let you find the best one. The spread: When you're only holding a position open for 30 seconds, the spread will kill you. The correlations performed above used the midpoint price, but in reality you have to buy at the ask and sell at the bid. Brokers aren't stupid and the moment volume on the ECN jumps they will widen the spread for their retail customers. The only way to determine if the news-driven price movements reliably overcome the spread is to backtest. Stops: Personally I don't use stops, neither take-profit nor stop-loss, since I'm automatically closing the trade after a fixed (and very short) amount of time. Additionally, brokers have a minimum stop distance; the profits from scalping the news are so slim that even the nearest stops they allow will generally not get triggered. I backtested trading these two news releases (since 2018), using a 5 second entry delay, real historical spreads, and no stops, cycling through different "surprise" thresholds and hold times to find the combination that returns the highest net profit. It's important to maximize net profit, not expected value per trade, so you don't over-optimize and reduce the total number of trades taken to one single profitable trade. If you want to get fancy you can set up a custom metric that combines number of trades, expected value, and drawdown into a single score to be maximized. For the Initial Jobless Claims figure I found that the best combination is to hold trades open for 25 seconds (that is, open at 5 seconds elapsed and hold until 30 seconds elapsed) and only trade when the difference between consensus and actual is 7k or higher. That leads to 30 trades taken since 2018 and an expected return of... drumroll please... -0.0093 yen per unit per trade. Yep, that's a loss of approx. $8.63 per lot. Disappointing right? That's the spread and that's why you have to backtest. Even though the release of the Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report has a strong correlation with movement in USD/JPY, it's simply not something that a retail trader can profit from. Let's turn to the NFP. There I found that the best combination is to hold trades open for 75 seconds (that is, open at 5 seconds elapsed and hold until 80 seconds elapsed) and trade every single NFP (no minimum "surprise" threshold). That leads to 20 trades taken since 2018 and an expected return of... drumroll please... +0.1306 yen per unit per trade. That's a profit of approx. $121.25 per lot. Not bad for 75 seconds of work! That's a +6% ROI at 50x leverage.
Make it real
If you want to do this for realsies, you need to run these numbers for all of the major economic news releases. Markit Manufacturing PMI, Factory Orders MoM, Trade Balance, PPI MoM, Export and Import Prices, Michigan Consumer Sentiment, Retail Sales MoM, Industrial Production MoM, you get the idea. You keep a list of all of the releases you want to trade, when they are released, and the ideal hold time and "surprise" threshold. A few minutes before the prescribed release time you open up your broker's software, turn on your squawk, maybe jot a few notes about consensuses and model forecasts, and get your finger on the button. At the moment you hear the release you open the trade in the correct direction, hold it (without looking at the chart!) for the required amount of time, then close it and go on with your day. Some benefits of trading this way: * Most major economic releases come out at either 8:30 AM ET or 10:00 AM ET, and then you're done for the day. * It's easily backtestable. You can look back at the numbers and see exactly what to expect your return to be. * It's fun! Packing your trading into 30 seconds and knowing that institutions are moving billions of dollars around as fast as they can based on the exact same news you just read is thrilling. * You can wow your friends by saying things like "The St. Louis Fed had some interesting remarks on consumer spending in the latest Beige Book." * No crayons involved. Some downsides: * It's tricky to be fast enough without writing custom software. Some broker software is very slow and requires multiple dialog boxes before a position is opened, which won't cut it. * The profits are very slim, you're not going to impress your instagram followers to join your expensive trade copying service with your 30-second twice-weekly trades. * Any friends you might wow with your boring-ass economic talking points are themselves the most boring people in the world. I hope you enjoyed this long as fuck post and you give trading economic news a try!
I wanted to write a quick post in answer to the people who routinely make claims I have a history of stealing from people in my previous company and base this upon a blog they read. If you would like to discuss this further, please make a post and link it to me to engage on. I will do so as long as we deal with the facts of how a PAMM company really works. I won't engage in circular debates where the essential point is, "I don't believe you". You don't have to - that's not how any of this works. Just fact check.
I want to avoid Google ranking on this post. Although for my personal 'PR' it would be beneficial to aim to rank something answering claims, at some points in this some others involved in the company will not really come over in the best light. I assume it's likely these people are still involved things (Not spoke with them for 5 yrs) - It'd be unfair to rank bad PR on them. The failure of the company was squarely due to me. Anything anyone else did either would not have happened or not have mattered if I'd done better. I do not want anything I do now to further hinder anyone. So I will refer to names by only one letter (or number if applicable).
I found it strange at the time this ended up centred around the ponzi scheme side of things. There was a reasonable question to be asked and answered as to if it was a pyramid scheme. Were people signing up just to sign people up, or was there a core product of fair market value. The services sold I'd previously ran at the same sort of price point direct to market - so I felt on fairly good ground on that. Initially I's actually been a bit excited initially, because I was a reader of the blog in question and I liked the work they'd done on pyramid schemes. I thought I'd be able to either validate I was doing things right, or learn how I should be doing them better. I never thought the ponzi side of it would take any more than a few minutes to clear up. But that was not so ... A ponzi scheme was to all intents and purposes impossible. All of our business was done via three different brokers and all of our results publicly tracked with close to real time updates for marketing purposes. Of the three brokers we were using, two of them had good regulation. An off-shore broker had to be used for US clients, so this is the only one with any sort of question mark. All of our results over all the brokers were almost identical (Some execution/costs variance). The two regulated brokers were under different regulators. Most, if not all, the brokers held clients funds in segregated accounts. All brokers would have to have been fully complicit in the scam - and it costs more to get regulated than there was to steal. Logically, it could not have been so. We were using a PAMM model. This works by the client opening a brokerage account and signing a LPoA to allow trades to be copied onto their account. The LPoA grants the company no access to the funds. Money laundering laws also dictate the funds can only be redeemed to same source they were funded. PAMMs are big business. Protection of all parties is built into it, it's a well trusted model. This should have taken no less than 5 minutes to self verify. It could not have been a ponzi.
That happened. Turns out if you set up a PAMM in the Netherlands and then let a bunch of people refer investment to it this is classed as running a ... I can't remember exactly and even at the time it was in Dutch so I didn't personally read it all. The underlying problem was not the model in any way. We were told at the time we basically jut had to pay £2,000 for each country we did business in. We were global. At this time the company had neither the money to do that, or pay the fine they gave us for not having the money to do that. My mistaken assumption was that since when you run a PAMM you are basically piggybacking off the broker's licence, all was well and good. This was true - but the problem was sourcing. Paying people to refer investment was what we were fined for when you get right down to it.
This was just a headline. In many ways it's misleading. Firstly, nothing was stolen or even taken. It was lost or given away to clients who'd lost in the PAMMs that went bad. All the money lost was lost trying to get enough money to make good all the PAMMs. So it was not stolen, and there is nothing in anyway to imply that's a suitable word to use. In the blog, no explanation of that is offered. What seems to be inferred is that this was commissions due out to clients that the company kept. Even outside the above mentioned this would be wrong. All affiliates were paid. You will not find a single one who says they were not. Further to that, of all the funds invested into the company (We'll call the company '5') somewhere in the 60 - 70% range was sourced directly by me. Other funds were sourced by my co-founder. Investments were made through passive advertising without them being attributed to a refer. All in all, assuming we did not pay the affiliates and we had this much, $18,000 would be the number. Of the $180,000 somewhere a bit over $100,000 would have been mine. I never took that, and could not have "Stolen" it. I don't see the point in getting super technical on everything by going through how, but the number also probably wasn't $180,000. I think this was an overestimate made in a throw away comment by my co-founder (We'll call her 'M') who was (Justifiably) extremely angry at me at the time she came up with the number and added it in a post (Of this multi paragraph post, this one line and one number was taken - if memory servers, all context was left out when the blogger cited this as stolen. Which would make sense. The post was berating me for losing the money. That didn't fit the narrative.
What Backs the Story?
Of all of the claims of wrongdoing (Apart from the fine, which is documented and true) - there is no evidence proposed for any of the claims made. All of it hinges on a story told to the blogger by one person, who was another of my co-founders 'We'll call her 'E'. E was either a late teenager or very early 20s at the time. In the founding of 5, E was essential. Before 5 I'd been running a service selling trading signals and selling them at $5 a week subscription. I was generating a lot of business (Working all day, every day and having fun with it. Like I did here for a while, but at that time I really was marketing). 5 - 10 people a day could be signing up. I knew nothing at all about how to structure an online business. No listing of new clients to send emails. Nothing about making membership sites with password access etc. I was working off a Wix site I made myself with no on-boarding system in place. The volume of people joining was crushing me. I could not process them and was getting a lot of PayPal disputes. I wanted to send them the stuff. Just did not have the process to ensure this was being done. E stepped in and saved me on that. She made original 5 website (On Wordpress, I believe it was later upgraded to something else). Set up memberships payments. Automated listing. Also she suggested changing the name to what the company became. E made the work I was doing work. After that, she had varying performance. Her gripe in the blog is she was not paid for helping to found the company. Left out of this is the fact she was not paid because she was head of marketing and we were not getting enough clients. Almost all of them coming from me hitting the DMs and signing people up the old fashioned way. On results of trading, everything was going well (and this was my area). Things were going so well people legit through it must be a ponzi! But we did not have in-flow of clients. On this I again blame myself. I sort of assumed this would all work itself out and did not put focus on fixing problems before they became problems. There was a lot of pressure on everyone. E got into a new romantic relationship. I think she was heavily influenced by this person (I found E to be good hearted on the whole). E and M started to get along less and less. Then E and M seemed to hate each other. It all seemed to come from nowhere, but it quickly got to the point me and M felt it was not working with E, and she thought the same. Pretty much everything is based upon the story told to the blogger by E. As I've said before I found her to be a good heart overall and believe she was influenced into doing what she did, and would not have done it on her own gumption. Therefore I won't rip into her; but if you're reading, 'E' (Won't be lol) - that was a bit naughty, wasn't it? Little 'Economic with the truth'.
Why would the blogger post such big claims with no evidence?
People should ask themselves this on the first read through of the blog, to be fair. If you're a single source reporting on a story - tell how you know it's true. I think this mainly came down to revenge. After the ponzi thing I wrote blog line by line ripping the initial blog to bits. It was written in a very cheeky sort of tone, and what I was saying was right. He then played, "My blog's bigger than your blog" , on which he was right. If you think there is some smoking gun here in any way, just email the blogger and ask them how they know. What evidence were they ever given any money was stolen. There was none.
Money taken from the company:
In it's sad and drawn out end, cash on hand and assets within the company got down to around $10,000 and we were due out over 10* this to clients who I wanted to pay back. I was not bringing in new business (It seemed unethical to do until I fixed old problems - this was a miscalculation. No business was the big problem) and there was the 50K fine. The company was essentially bankrupt. I wanted to use the remaining 10K to have one last ditch effort to re-coup losses, or randomly select clients to pay the 10K to. M didn't. At this time we fell out (Forever). I have no idea what happened to that 10K. I think M probably kept it. At the time I was livid about that - but to be honest, after all the work she did she deserved something. Losing was not her fault. To 'M' if you're reading (Won't be), I'm sorry.
What went wrong?
I was not good enough. When I got ahead I thought I was coasting. I came from a background of having nothing and as soon as I started to make a few grand I assumed I was gliding to being a millionaire. I stopped learning. Stopped improving. I never watered what I planted, and it withered and died. I fail. Turns out you can not coast up a learning curve without ending up on your arse.
Forex Trading: a Beginner's Guide The forex market is the world's largest international currency trading market operating non-stop during the working week. Most forex trading is done by professionals such as bankers. Generally forex trading is done through a forex broker - but there is nothing to stop anyone trading currencies. Forex currency trading allows buyers and sellers to buy the currency they need for their business and sellers who have earned currency to exchange what they have for a more convenient currency. The world's largest banks dominate forex and according to a survey in The Wall Street Journal Europe, the ten most active traders who are engaged in forex trading account for almost 73% of trading volume. However, a sizeable proportion of the remainder of forex trading is speculative with traders building up an investment which they wish to liquidate at some stage for profit. While a currency may increase or decrease in value relative to a wide range of currencies, all forex trading transactions are based upon currency pairs. So, although the Euro may be 'strong' against a basket of currencies, traders will be trading in just one currency pair and may simply concern themselves with the Euro/US Dollar ( EUUSD) ratio. Changes in relative values of currencies may be gradual or triggered by specific events such as are unfolding at the time of writing this - the toxic debt crisis. Because the markets for currencies are global, the volumes traded every day are vast. For the large corporate investors, the great benefits of trading on Forex are:
Enormous liquidity - over $4 trillion per day, that's $4,000,000,000. This means that there's always someone ready to trade with you
Every one of the world's free currencies are traded - this means that you may trade the currency you want at any time
Twenty four - hour trading during the 5-day working week
Operations are global which mean that you can trade with any part of the world at any time
From the point of view of the smaller trader there's lots of benefits too, such as:
A rapidly-changing market - that's one which is always changing and offering the chance to make money
Very well developed mechanisms for controlling risk
Ability to go long or short - this means that you can make money either in rising or falling markets
Leverage trading - meaning that you can benefit from large-volume trading while having a relatively-low capital base
Lots of options for zero-commission trading
How the forex Market Works As forex is all about foreign exchange, all transactions are made up from a currency pair - say, for instance, the Euro and the US Dollar. The basic tool for trading forex is the exchange rate which is expressed as a ratio between the values of the two currencies such as EUUSD = 1.4086. This value, which is referred to as the 'forex rate' means that, at that particular time, one Euro would be worth 1.4086 US Dollars. This ratio is always expressed to 4 decimal places which means that you could see a forex rate of EUUSD = 1.4086 or EUUSD = 1.4087 but never EUUSD = 1.40865. The rightmost digit of this ratio is referred to as a 'pip'. So, a change from EUUSD = 1.4086 to EUUSD = 1.4088 would be referred to as a change of 2 pips. One pip, therefore is the smallest unit of trade. With the forex rate at EUUSD = 1.4086, an investor purchasing 1000 Euros using dollars would pay $1,408.60. If the forex rate then changed to EUUSD = 1.5020, the investor could sell their 1000 Euros for $1,502.00 and bank the $93.40 as profit. If this doesn't seem to be large amount to you, you have to put the sum into context. With a rising or falling market, the forex rate does not simply change in a uniform way but oscillates and profits can be taken many times per day as a rate oscillates around a trend. When you're expecting the value EUUSD to fall, you might trade the other way by selling Euros for dollars and buying then back when the forex rate has changed to your advantage. Is forex Risky? When you trade on forex as in any form of currency trading, you're in the business of currency speculation and it is just that - speculation. This means that there is some risk involved in forex currency trading as in any business but you might and should, take steps to minimise this. You can always set a limit to the downside of any trade, that means to define the maximum loss that you are prepared to accept if the market goes against you - and it will on occasions. The best insurance against losing your shirt on the forex market is to set out to understand what you're doing totally. Search the internet for a good forex trading tutorial and study it in detail- a bit of good forex education can go a long way!. When there's bits you don't understand, look for a good forex trading forum and ask lots and lots of questions. Many of the people who habitually answer your queries on this will have a good forex trading blog and this will probably not only give you answers to your questions but also provide lots of links to good sites. Be vigilant, however, watch out for forex trading scams. Don't be too quick to part with your money and investigate anything very well before you shell out any hard-earned! The forex Trading Systems While you may be right in being cautious about any forex trading system that's advertised, there are some good ones around. Most of them either utilise forex charts and by means of these, identify forex trading signals which tell the trader when to buy or sell. These signals will be made up of a particular change in a forex rate or a trend and these will have been devised by a forex trader who has studied long-term trends in the market so as to identify valid signals when they occur. Many of the systems will use forex trading software which identifies such signals from data inputs which are gathered automatically from market information sources. Some utilise automated forex trading software which can trigger trades automatically when the signals tell it to do so. If these sound too good to be true to you, look around for online forex trading systems which will allow you undertake some dummy trading to test them out. by doing this you can get some forex trading training by giving them a spin before you put real money on the table. How Much do you Need to Start off with? This is a bit of a 'How long is a piece of string?' question but there are ways for to be beginner to dip a toe into the water without needing a fortune to start with. The minimum trading size for most trades on forex is usually 100,000 units of any currency and this volume is referred to as a standard "lot". However, there are many firms which offer the facility to purchase in dramatically-smaller lots than this and a bit of internet searching will soon locate these. There's many adverts quoting only a couple of hundred dollars to get going! You will often see the term acciones trading forex and this is just a general term which covers the small guy trading forex. Small-scale trading facilities such as these are often called as forex mini trading. Where do You Start? The single most obvious answer is of course - on the internet! Online forex trading gives you direct access to the forex market and there's lots and lots of companies out there who are in business just to deal with you online. Be vigilant, do spend the time to get some good forex trading education, again this can be provided online and set up your dummy account to trade before you attempt to go live. If you take care and take your time, there's no reason why you shouldn't be successful in forex trading so, have patience and stick at it!
How to get started in Forex - A comprehensive guide for newbies
Almost every day people come to this subreddit asking the same basic questions over and over again. I've put this guide together to point you in the right direction and help you get started on your forex journey. A quick background on me before you ask: My name is Bob, I'm based out of western Canada. I started my forex journey back in January 2018 and am still learning. However I am trading live, not on demo accounts. I also code my own EA's. I not certified, licensed, insured, or even remotely qualified as a professional in the finance industry. Nothing I say constitutes financial advice. Take what I'm saying with a grain of salt, but everything I've outlined below is a synopsis of some tough lessons I've learned over the last year of being in this business. LET'S GET SOME UNPLEASANTNESS OUT OF THE WAY I'm going to call you stupid. I'm also going to call you dumb. I'm going to call you many other things. I do this because odds are, you are stupid, foolish,and just asking to have your money taken away. Welcome to the 95% of retail traders. Perhaps uneducated or uninformed are better phrases, but I've never been a big proponent of being politically correct. Want to get out of the 95% and join the 5% of us who actually make money doing this? Put your grown up pants on, buck up, and don't give me any of this pc "This is hurting my feelings so I'm not going to listen to you" bullshit that the world has been moving towards. Let's rip the bandage off quickly on this point - the world does not give a fuck about you. At one point maybe it did, it was this amazing vision nicknamed the American Dream. It died an agonizing, horrible death at the hand of capitalists and entrepreneurs. The world today revolves around money. Your money, my money, everybody's money. People want to take your money to add it to theirs. They don't give a fuck if it forces you out on the street and your family has to live in cardboard box. The world just stopped caring in general. It sucks, but it's the way the world works now. Welcome to the new world order. It's called Capitalism. And here comes the next hard truth that you will need to accept - Forex is a cruel bitch of a mistress. She will hurt you. She will torment you. She will give you nightmares. She will keep you awake at night. And then she will tease you with a glimmer of hope to lure you into a false sense of security before she then guts you like a fish and shows you what your insides look like. This statement applies to all trading markets - they are cruel, ruthless, and not for the weak minded. The sooner you accept these truths, the sooner you will become profitable. Don't accept it? That's fine. Don't bother reading any further. If I've offended you I don't give a fuck. You can run back home and hide under your bed. The world doesn't care and neither do I. For what it's worth - I am not normally an major condescending asshole like the above paragraphs would suggest. In fact, if you look through my posts on this subreddit you will see I am actually quite helpful most of the time to many people who come here. But I need you to really understand that Forex is not for most people. It will make you cry. And if the markets themselves don't do it, the people in the markets will. LESSON 1 - LEARN THE BASICS Save yourself and everybody here a bunch of time - learn the basics of forex. You can learn the basics for free - BabyPips has one of the best free courses online which explains what exactly forex is, how it works, different strategies and methods of how to approach trading, and many other amazing topics. You can access the BabyPips course by clicking this link: https://www.babypips.com/learn/forex Do EVERY course in the School of Pipsology. It's free, it's comprehensive, and it will save you from a lot of trouble. It also has the added benefit of preventing you from looking foolish and uneducated when you come here asking for help if you already know this stuff. If you still have questions about how forex works, please see the FREE RESOURCES links on the /Forex FAQ which can be found here: https://www.reddit.com/Forex/wiki/index Quiz Time Answer these questions truthfully to yourself: -What is the difference between a market order, a stop order, and a limit order? -How do you draw a support/resistance line? (Demonstrate it to yourself) -What is the difference between MACD, RSI, and Stochastic indicators? -What is fundamental analysis and how does it differ from technical analysis and price action trading? -True or False: It's better to have a broker who gives you 500:1 margin instead of 50:1 margin. Be able to justify your reasoning. If you don't know to answer to any of these questions, then you aren't ready to move on. Go back to the School of Pipsology linked above and do it all again. If you can answer these questions without having to refer to any kind of reference then congratulations, you are ready to move past being a forex newbie and are ready to dive into the wonderful world of currency trading! Move onto Lesson 2 below. LESSON 2 - RANDOM STRANGERS ARE NOT GOING TO HELP YOU GET RICH IN FOREX This may come as a bit of a shock to you, but that random stranger on instagram who is posting about how he is killing it on forex is not trying to insprire you to greatness. He's also not trying to help you. He's also not trying to teach you how to attain financial freedom. 99.99999% of people posting about wanting to help you become rich in forex are LYING TO YOU. Why would such nice, polite people do such a thing? Because THEY ARE TRYING TO PROFIT FROM YOUR STUPIDITY. Plain and simple. Here's just a few ways these "experts" and "gurus" profit from you:
Referral Links - If they require you to click a specific link to signup for something, it means they are an affiliate. They get a commission from whatever the third party is that they are sending you to. I don't care if it's a brokerage, training program, hell even an Amazon link to a book - if they insist you have to click their super exclusive, can't-get-this-deal-any-other-way-but-clicking-my-link type bullshit, it's an affiliate link. There is nothing inherently wrong with affiliate programs, but you are literally generating money for some stranger because they convinced you to buy something. Some brokers such as ICMarkets have affiliate programs that payout a percentage of the commission you generate - this is a really clever system - whether you profit or blow your entire account, the person who referred you to the broker makes a profit off you. Clever eh?
Signal Services, Education & Training Programs, Courses - If somebody is telling you they are making a killing with a signal service and are trying to convince you to join it, I guarantee they are getting a piece of your monthly fee. And better still, these signal services often work...for about a week. Just long enough to suck a bunch of poor fools into it. You see people making money, you want in so you agree to pay the $200+/month subscription fee. You follow the signals and it looks like it's making money for a few days or weeks. Then it turns sideways, you start losing money hand over fist. Pretty soon you have lost most of your trading account because you blindly followed a signal service. And better still - when you go screaming at the person running the signal service they will be very quick to point you to their No Refunds policy. To add insult to injury, the buttfucker that referred you to the signal service in the past will likely listen to you getting mad, and then come back with something like "Sorry it didn't work out, but I just joined this other amazing service and it's working great, you should come join it to earn your money back. Here's my link..." You get the point here right?
Multi-Level Marketing (MLMs) - These people are scum. They are going to offer you training and education, signals, access to forex experts and gurus, and all kinds of other shit with the promise that you will live the dream and become financially free. They are also loading you into a pyrmaid scheme where you will be hounded to recruit other people and make money off them just like you got roped into it. A really prime example here is iMarkets Live (or IML for short). Don't touch this shit with a 10 foot pole. I don't care what they are claiming, you will lose everything using them.
Fund Managers - These people make my skin crawl. It's a classic scam and it works like this - somebody will post online about how much money they are making trading forex/commodities/stocks/whatever. Most of the time they won't explicitly post they are offering a trading service, rather they just put the message out there and wait for the ignorant masses (that's you) to contact them. They will charm you. They will lie to you. They will promise you the moon if you simply wire them some money or give them API access to your trading account. Care to guess what happens next? If you send a wire transfer (or Western Union...hell any kind of payment to them) they will vanish. Happens usually after they take a bunch of suckers for the ride. You sent them $2,000 and so do 9 other suckers. They just made $20,000 and are gone. With API access to your account, you will find your account gets blown super fast or worse - possibly leaving you open to persecution by the broker you are using.
These are just a few examples. The reality is that very few people make it big in forex or any kind of trading. If somebody is trying to sell you the dream, they are essentially a magician - making you look the other way while they snatch your wallet and clean you out. Additionally, on the topic of fund managers - legitimate fund managers will be certified, licensed, and insured. Ask them for proof of those 3 things. What they typically look like are:
Certified - This varies from country to country, in the US it's FINRA (http://www.finra.org). They need to have their Series 7 certification minimum. You can make the case that other FINRA certifications are acceptable in lieu of Series 7, but the 7 is the gold standard.
Licensed - They need to have a valid business license issued by the government. It must clearly state they are an investment company, preferrably a hedge fund because they have some super strict requirements to operate (and often require $25,000+ in fees just to get their business license, so you know they at least have some skin in the game).
Insured - They need to be backed by an insurance company. I'm not talking general insurance for shit like their office burning down. I'm talking about a government-implemented protection insurance program - in the US I believe that is issued by the Securities Investment Protection Corporation (https://www.sipc.org/).
If you are talking to a fund manager and they are insisting they have all of these, get a copy of their verification documents and lookup their licenses on the directories of the issuers to verify they are valid. If they are, then at least you are talking to somebody who seems to have their shit together and is doing investment management and trading as a professional and you are at least partially protected when the shit hits the fan. LESSON 3 - UNDERSTAND YOUR RISK Many people jump into Forex, drop $2000 into a broker account and start trading 1 lot orders because they signed up with a broker thinking they will get rich because they were given 500:1 margin and can risk it all on each trade. Worst-case scenario you lose your account, best case scenario you become a millionaire very quickly. Seems like a pretty good gamble right? You are dead wrong. As a new trader, you should never risk more than 1% of your account balance on a trade. If you have some experience and are confident and doing well, then it's perfectly natural to risk 2-3% of your account per trade. Anybody who risks more than 4-5% of their account on a single trade deserves to blow their account. At that point you aren't trading, you are gambling. Don't pretend you are a trader when really you are just putting everything on red and hoping the roulette ball lands in the right spot. It's stupid and reckless and going to screw you very quickly. Let's do some math here: You put $2,000 into your trading account. Risking 1% means you are willing to lose $20 per trade. That means you are going to be trading micro lots, or 0.01 lots most likely ($0.10/pip). At that level you can have a trade stop loss at -200 pips and only lose $20. It's the best starting point for anybody. Additionally, if you SL 20 trades in a row you are only down $200 (or 10% of your account) which isn't that difficult to recover from. Risking 3% means you are willing to lose $60 per trade. You could do mini lots at this point, which is 0.1 lots (or $1/pip). Let's say you SL on 20 trades in a row. You've just lost $1,200 or 60% of your account. Even veteran traders will go through periods of repeat SL'ing, you are not a special snowflake and are not immune to periods of major drawdown. Risking 5% means you are willing to lose $100 per trade. SL 20 trades in a row, your account is blown. As Red Foreman would call it - Good job dumbass. Never risk more than 1% of your account on any trade until you can show that you are either consistently breaking even or making a profit. By consistently, I mean 200 trades minimum. You do 200 trades over a period of time and either break-even or make a profit, then you should be alright to increase your risk. Unfortunately, this is where many retail traders get greedy and blow it. They will do 10 trades and hit their profit target on 9 of them. They will start seeing huge piles of money in their future and get greedy. They will start taking more risk on their trades than their account can handle. 200 trades of break-even or profitable performance risking 1% per trade. Don't even think about increasing your risk tolerance until you do it. When you get to this point, increase you risk to 2%. Do 1,000 trades at this level and show break-even or profit. If you blow your account, go back down to 1% until you can figure out what the hell you did differently or wrong, fix your strategy, and try again. Once you clear 1,000 trades at 2%, it's really up to you if you want to increase your risk. I don't recommend it. Even 2% is bordering on gambling to be honest. LESSON 4 - THE 500 PIP DRAWDOWN RULE This is a rule I created for myself and it's a great way to help protect your account from blowing. Sometimes the market goes insane. Like really insane. Insane to the point that your broker can't keep up and they can't hold your orders to the SL and TP levels you specified. They will try, but during a flash crash like we had at the start of January 2019 the rules can sometimes go flying out the window on account of the trading servers being unable to keep up with all the shit that's hitting the fan. Because of this I live by a rule I call the 500 Pip Drawdown Rule and it's really quite simple - Have enough funds in your account to cover a 500 pip drawdown on your largest open trade. I don't care if you set a SL of -50 pips. During a flash crash that shit sometimes just breaks. So let's use an example - you open a 0.1 lot short order on USDCAD and set the SL to 50 pips (so you'd only lose $50 if you hit stoploss). An hour later Trump makes some absurd announcement which causes a massive fundamental event on the market. A flash crash happens and over the course of the next few minutes USDCAD spikes up 500 pips, your broker is struggling to keep shit under control and your order slips through the cracks. By the time your broker is able to clear the backlog of orders and activity, your order closes out at 500 pips in the red. You just lost $500 when you intended initially to only risk $50. It gets kinda scary if you are dealing with whole lot orders. A single order with a 500 pip drawdown is $5,000 gone in an instant. That will decimate many trader accounts. Remember my statements above about Forex being a cruel bitch of a mistress? I wasn't kidding. Granted - the above scenario is very rare to actually happen. But glitches to happen from time to time. Broker servers go offline. Weird shit happens which sets off a fundamental shift. Lots of stuff can break your account very quickly if you aren't using proper risk management. LESSON 5 - UNDERSTAND DIFFERENT TRADING METHODOLOGIES Generally speaking, there are 3 trading methodologies that traders employ. It's important to figure out what method you intend to use before asking for help. Each has their pros and cons, and you can combine them in a somewhat hybrid methodology but that introduces challenges as well. In a nutshell:
Price Action Trading (Sometimes called Naked Trading) is very effective at identifying when trends will start and finish. This gives you the advantage of staying ahead of the market and predicting when a change in trend direction will occur. It has the disadvantage of being really easy to screw it up if you don't plot your support and resistance lines properly and interpret the chart wrong. Because you can identify a change in trend direction, you'll generally make more profit on a new trend than a technical strategy will.
Technical Analytics (or TA) uses math and statistics to try and identify where the market is headed or confirm/reject whether a trend is happening. It has the advantage of being very math and stat driven which is hard to refute the numbers, but it has the disadvantage of being late to the party when it comes to identifying trends (hence why people call TA a lagging strategy). When people fail using TA, it's not because of the math - it's because you misinterpreted what the math is telling you.
Fundamental Analysis (or FA) uses news and macro scale events to predict what is going on. A really good example right now is Brexit, what a clusterfuck that is. Every time some major brexit news breaks it causes all sorts of choas in almost every currency pair. Fundamental trading has the highest potential profitability per trade but it also has the highest potential drawdown per trade.
Now you may be thinking that you want to be a a price action trader - you should still learn the principles and concepts behind TA and FA. Same if you are planning to be a technical trader - you should learn about price action and fundamental analysis. More knowledge is better, always. With regards to technical analysis, you need to really understand what the different indicators are tell you. It's very easy to misinterpret what an indicator is telling you, which causes you to make a bad trade and lose money. It's also important to understand that every indicator can be tuned to your personal preferences. You might find, for example, that using Bollinger Bands with the normal 20 period SMA close, 2 standard deviation is not effective for how you look at the chart, but changing that to say a 20 period EMA average price, 1 standard deviation bollinger band indicator could give you significantly more insight. LESSON 6 - TIMEFRAMES MATTER Understanding the differences in which timeframes you trade on will make or break your chosen strategy. Some strategies work really well on Daily timeframes (i.e. Ichimoku) but they fall flat on their face if you use them on 1H timeframes, for example. There is no right or wrong answer on what timeframe is best to trade on. Generally speaking however, there are 2 things to consider:
Speed - If you are scalping (trading on the really fast candles like 1M, 5M, 15M, etc) odds are your trades are very short lived. Maybe 10 minutes to an hour tops. For the most part, scalping strategies will produce little profit per trade but make up for it in the sheer volume of trades. Whereas swing trading may only make a few trades but each one could be worth a significant amount of money.
Spread (the fee you pay to the broker when you trade) - If you are a scalper, the spread is your worst enemy because you have to overcome it very fast to make a profit on your order. Whereas swing trading the spread hardly impacts you at all.
If you are a total newbie to forex, I suggest you don't trade on anything shorter than the 1H timeframe when you are first learning. Trading on higher timeframes tends to be much more forgiving and profitable per trade. Scalping is a delicate art and requires finesse and can be very challenging when you are first starting out. LESSON 7 - AUTOBOTS...ROLL OUT! Yeah...I'm a geek and grew up with the Transformers franchise decades before Michael Bay came along. Deal with it. Forex bots are called EA's (Expert Advisors). They can be wonderous and devastating at the same time. /Forex is not really the best place to get help with them. That is what /algotrading is useful for. However some of us that lurk on /Forex code EA's and will try to assist when we can. Anybody can learn to code an EA. But just like how 95% of retail traders fail, I would estimate the same is true for forex bots. Either the strategy doesn't work, the code is buggy, or many other reasons can cause EA's to fail. Because EA's can often times run up hundreds of orders in a very quick period of time, it's critical that you test them repeatedly before letting them lose on a live trading account so they don't blow your account to pieces. You have been warned. If you want to learn how to code an EA, I suggest you start with MQL. It's a programming language which can be directly interpretted by Meta Trader. The Meta Trader terminal client even gives you a built in IDE for coding EA's in MQL. The downside is it can be buggy and glitchy and caused many frustrating hours of work to figure out what is wrong. If you don't want to learn MQL, you can code an EA up in just about any programming language. Python is really popular for forex bots for some reason. But that doesn't mean you couldn't do it in something like C++ or Java or hell even something more unusual like JQuery if you really wanted. I'm not going to get into the finer details of how to code EA's, there are some amazing guides out there. Just be careful with them. They can be your best friend and at the same time also your worst enemy when it comes to forex. One final note on EA's - don't buy them. Ever. Let me put this into perspective - I create an EA which is literally producing money for me automatically 24/5. If it really is a good EA which is profitable, there is no way in hell I'm selling it. I'm keeping it to myself to make a fortune off of. EA's that are for sale will not work, will blow your account, and the developer who coded it will tell you that's too darn bad but no refunds. Don't ever buy an EA from anybody. LESSON 8 - BRING ON THE HATERS You are going to find that this subreddit is frequented by trolls. Some of them will get really nasty. Some of them will threaten you. Some of them will just make you miserable. It's the price you pay for admission to the /Forex club. If you can't handle it, then I suggest you don't post here. Find a more newbie-friendly site. It sucks, but it's reality. We often refer to trolls on this subreddit as shitcunts. That's your word of the day. Learn it, love it. Shitcunts. YOU MADE IT, WELCOME TO FOREX! If you've made it through all of the above and aren't cringing or getting scared, then welcome aboard the forex train! You will fit in nicely here. Ask your questions and the non-shitcunts of our little corner of reddit will try to help you. Assuming this post doesn't get nuked and I don't get banned for it, I'll add more lessons to this post over time. Lessons I intend to add in the future:
Why you will blow your first account and what to do when it happens
Trading Psychology (this will be a beefy one and will take a while to put together)
Exotics vs Majors and which you should focus on as a newbie (aka how to blow your account in a single trade with exotics)
I've traded in the past and skirted around the day trading rules but eventually my broker said no.. I want to day trade again and I do have the money to meet the requirements on the flip side I really don't want to set aside $25k just to have a day trade account. I wont be trading at the $25k level anytime soon so I hate to have that money tied up in a brokerage. I was looking at Forex, but honestly I know little about it and it would take a me quiet awhile to learn before I'd feel safe trading with real money on Forex. I'm sort of curious what people think about Forex vs dealing with daytrader requirements on the NYSE? When trading stocks I don't invest, I don't even care about the company, I traded purely on volume. I'm not sure how I could translate that into Forex trading because I simply don't understand it enough yet.
A Day in the Life of a Stock Trader - Blog | Horizon Institute
Section 1 – What does a stock trader actually do The life of a trader is often glamorised by films such as The Wolf of Wallstreet and Margin Call – a view that is shared by many who have no direct experience with the wider investment industry. It is also true that different types of traders have very different workloads. Trading emerging markets is not the same as trading FTSE stocks or the forex markets. Let’s start by defining what traders, broadly speaking actually are: “Professionals in finance who buy and/or sell assets on the financial markets.” A day in the life of a trader: Behind the scenes These are people who usually have a background in finance, either through traditional education (think degrees in finance, accounting, economics, investment management etc) or through practical experience at companies working within financial services. This is to say that the day-to-day activities of a trader is to either buy assets (such as stocks, futures, commodities) or to sell assets (such as stocks, forex, bonds). Two distinct roles in trading can be summed up in the Buy side, and the Sell side in terms of execution. A broader categorisation would include participants within the financial markets who trade securities. This encompasses independent traders working from home to large multinational financial institutions which see billions of dollars a day flow from and to their order books. The Buy Side The Buy side is concerned with purchasing assets, and this generally involves taking orders from management or clients and then sending those orders to the broker to be executed. This role is being gradually replaced by technology, specifically automation and AI, and its hard to see a future for buy side traders 20 years from now. There is also a distinctly bad reputation associated with buy side traders, these are often just messengers, and have been known to treat brokers with incredible hostility and bitterness over recent years. The Sell Side Alternatively, the Sell side is just the opposite – these traders are only concerned with selling positions either the firm or the firms clients holds. Again technology is eliminating this role over time, and today both buy and sell side traders simply take message, and pass it along either electronically through an online platform or via telephone for the perhaps more traditional establishments. Private Hedge fund managers Many successful traders have gone on to start hedge funds with private companies and from private investors. This is a highly privileged position to be in, as hedge fund managers are in control of both the broad strategy for the investments and receives the greatest compensation should the strategy be profitable. Private Portfolio Managers Portfolio managers working at a private company (such as a large hedge fund) is again a much sought after position. Portfolio managers generally create a positive or negative selection portfolio, which allows them to implement their own strategy to make the best returns with the lease risk – although these parameters are often set outside the control of the individual portfolio manager. The same also exists within commercial banking, but it is usually more focused on creating a very balanced portfolio that exists to hedge risk as opposed to making real returns. Analysts Analysts do the number crunching and quantitative prep work for the portfolio or hedge fund managers. This role involves applied finance and taking a close look at various assets fundamentals. This includes the balance sheet, income statement and cashflow statement for analysts looking at stocks. This is usually a relatively junior role, and those who are successful here tend to become traders, portfolio managers and eventually hedge fund managers over the course of a successful career. Investment Banking There are still plenty of traders left at investment banks, despite the decline over the last few decades. As much as 90% of the time is spent dealing with clients such as Hedge and Pension Funds. Investment Bank Traders As much as 90% of the time is spent dealing with clients such as Hedge and Pension Funds. The trader is then Making Markets in Assets the clients want to buy/sell, such as stocks, currencies, commodities and bonds. The other 10% of time is Proprietary trading, utilising the banks large balance sheet to create a positive selection portfolio. Market Makers (Agency) Market making is the primary task of an investment trader (~80% of market making business) Split into two sections: Agency Business – Client holds risk Risk business – Investment Bank holds risk Investment Bank charges commission on these activities at a typical rate of 5 basis points or 0.05% Example – Buy £10,000,000 of BP stock at £100 per share = 100,000 BP shares. Commission for bank - £10,000,000 X 0.005 = £5,000 Risk free for bank – algorithm executes trades based on client orders In terms of basis points, 100 = 1% Proprietary Trading This type of trading can happen in two ways, the first where small investors at home use their own capital to trade for a direct gain or commercially where a firm uses its own capital to make trades to be the prime beneficially of the rewards should the trade go well. This is in contrast to how hedge funds would normally just earn a commission, by also utilising internal capital the firm is able to take larger risks, which tend to come with the larger rewards. Here’s another interesting fact: “Only 6% of candidates end up making it as a professional trader” (Business Insider, 2011) This statement alone shows just how competitive the industry is, and to make a successful career is even harder, with only ~5% of traders ever making it to a managerial level. A day in the life of a trader: Behind the scenes Section 2 – How does 8 hours day break down? 6:00 AM Traders usually start the day at 6.30 AM and start to catch up on news that broke overnight that may A) affect current positions or B) provide opportunities for new positions. These changes are digested, and areas of special interest are noted for further analysis later. 7:00 AM Arrive at trading floor at 7:30, 30 minutes before markets open. This is the time where traders prepare themselves for the day. It also serves as an opportunity to talk to colleagues. For most hedge funds and other long-term traders, team meetings will happen in the morning to ensure all traders are up to speed and playing from the same game plan. 8:00 AM Markets open: based on overnight news there may be buying / selling activity to adjust the traders portfolio based on the latest information. Many traders prefer not to trade at the market open due to higher volatility as traders from around the world react to overnight news. 9:00 AM A common task around 9:00 AM would be to scan the market for short term opportunities, or to catch up on fundamental company analysis of companies in the watch list. 10:00 AM Continuation of analysis or opportunity seeking based on the traders own intuition, experience and judgement. This is also prime time for internal meetings with the team and meetings with clients, potential clients etc. 11:00 AM Here we see lower volume and volatility, and so short-term opportunities diminish, traders are thinking about lunch at this point. Finishing up financial models and analysis done in the morning. Another prime time for meetings with the team and clients. 12:00 PM Most long-term traders take lunch, some short-term traders will stay at the desk as timing can be critical to a successful day. 1:00 PM As investment banks and other major institutions return from lunch volatility in the markets increases and short-term traders get back to work. Long-term traders generally get back to analysis, risk management or strategy functions with only a cursory interest in the current market prices and volatility. 2:00 PM Day traders will spend this time monitoring positions and executing trades as necessary. Long-term traders use this period in a variety of ways, as mentioned above. 3:00 PM Short-term traders now think about closing existing positions and stop looking for new opportunities. This is also where the administrative functions of cancelling unfilled orders, or for long term traders, finalising analysis of the day and presenting it to stakeholders. This is the last chance to exit positions for the trading day. 4:00 PM The markets are now closed. Traders often look back at the day, seeing what went well (and what didn’t). Management will often check in and with-it bureaucracy and paperwork. 5:00 PM Time to leave the office and go home. The advent of mobile internet means most traders are now reading the latest financial news, following commentary and thinking about the strategy for tomorrow. 6:00 PM If all went well arrive home, if not then its likely the trader will still be at the office working to meet the deadline of the day, from financial models to briefing management and clients. 7:00 PM Outside of the general workday, traders will spend much of the evening doing research and analysis – everything from learning about the markets to experimenting with financial models to taking an advanced excel course. Section 3 – Why you might want to be a stock trader We meet a lot of traders, its what we do – and here are a few of the top reasons traders we spoke to continue to do what they do. Love the Game Many traders are extremely fond of the game that is the financial markets. Day traders talk about the rush as fast-paced action that runs from 8am to 4pm 5 days a week. The same holds true for long-term traders, and while lacking the constant adrenaline of day trading the highs of closing a trade that’s been on-going for months is just as great a feeling – the analogy one trader used was whereas day traders get Christmas every day, long-term traders get all of their Christmases at once, 4-5 times a year. Financial Freedom This is not just about the ability to make a living from trading and the financial markets, but from having the knowledge and understanding of the world of finance to make sound financial decisions, whether that be in deciding between a fixed or variable mortgage, or the best ways to allocate capital to save for school fees. Intellectual Challenge There is undoubtedly both an intellectual and an emotional challenge in trading successfully. While it is said that day traders trade emotion, long term portfolio managers trade on intellect and sound financial decision making. Style & Expression Traders all trade differently, from value investors to crypto speculators each trader develops a style and method of trading that fits their way of life and the perception they have of the world around them. If you are emotional in-tune with the wider world, then day trading can be exceptionally profitable. The same holds true for value investors like Warren Buffet, a trader who enjoys digesting and analysing reams of company reports to find what Buffet calls “Great companies at fair prices”. This post has hopefully given you an understanding of the typical day in the life of a trader. If you feel your ready to take the next step towards a career in trading and finance, Horizon provides a comprehensive introductory course on Investing for Beginners. https://blog.hioim.com/post/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-stock-trade
Valuable information for new investors Warning. Looooong post. TL:DR in the bottom. Recently I have been chatting a ton with people who are very new to investing. I don’t claim to have mastered anything, however I have been able to help a lot of people through chats and messages. I’ve given advice and answered questions, and through that I found out a lot of problems new people run into, and decided to compile some of the points I found important. I will start this with the primary compiled information I usually give people when prompted, and then move on to specific questions I found important. A final note is that this is my own opinion and views, so feel free to disagree! I’d love input, even if I feel confident about this advice. First off I’d recommend searching for posts about starting out & learning the basics, both here and on other investing/trading subreddits. The question has been asked hundreds of times, and you’ll find some amazing answers if you look. The first thing you need to understand is that finance is all about information. If you want to learn, you need to take in information. All of the information. Books, news, financial statements, press releases and earning calls. Read everything. You will find hundreds of words you don’t understand, so look them up (investopedia have a majority of them). In the beginning you will struggle, however, as time goes by, you will start to understand. If you do not like reading, learn to like it. There is no way around this. If you find yourself investing without reading tons, you are going to lose. Books to recommend: Anything written by Warren Buffet, A random walk down wall street by Burton Malkiel (how I started), Stress test by Timothy Geithner & The intelligent investor (“thick” but all important). Pick out your favorite company in the world, and check if they are public. If they are, head over to their investor relations page and read the transcript to their latest earnings call. Read their financial statement (10-Q). If you don’t understand a word, look it up. This is frustrating but required. This method of reading, finding things you do not understand and looking it up (and learning it), will be the absolute unavoidable key to improvement. There are 3 things you should consider buying as your first investment: Large cap companies. These are the most risky you should consider buying. These large companies (Apple, Banks, Microsoft, 3M, JnJ, Walmart and the like) are stable, but can for sure give you a great return. Specific ETFs. An ETF is a basket of stocks, often with some sort of focus. It gives you instant diversification. The specific ETFs are less risky than the single stocks, but hold risk nonetheless. Specific ETFs are baskets of stocks of varying number, letting you buy one security, and get a tiny portion of many companies. This lets you bet on a sector. Say you think that robotics and automation is the future, you can bet on that by investing in $ROBO. Other examples of these are $KWEB, chinese e-com, $FNG, media and tech, $ITA, aerospace and defence and $SOXX, semiconductors. These let you invest in a promising industry, without having the risk of a single company failing. Lastly, and by far the best choice, is indexing. These are ETFS like $VOO, $VTI, $VWO and $VOOG, and is a way to take on the least amount of risk while still gaining along with the market. You get a wide basket of stocks, focusing on things like the S&P500 ($VOO), which is an index of large (minimum 6.1 billion USD) US companies. Historically , you can expect 7% annual gain here. That’s realistic. Anything offering much more than that without risk has tons of risk without disclosing it, per definition. $VOOG indexes growth companies, focusing less on the giants and more on the up and coming. $VWO focuses on emerging markets, getting places like brazil, russia and all over asia. Indexing is by far the best choice, and will very often gain you a steady growth. The final and great choice is $VTI, which is the global basket which contains the market as a whole. Remember, if you have to ask simple questions, you should be indexing. Asking questions is very important and a great way to learn, however, you should not make specific investments unless you can make the call 100% yourself with confidence. If you are not sure, you are making a mistake in purchasing. Lastly, and honestly most importantly, here is a list of things you should ALWAYS be able to answer before buying a security, equity or derivative:
Why am I getting this instead of an index? Where is the upside?
If the stock goes up, what action do I take? When do I sell? At what price or % gain.
If the stock goes down, when do I sell? At what % loss or a price.
What risks are there? How does the worst case realistic scenario look like?
Why am I making this investment right now? Is there a better time?
What exactly am I buying?*
And finally, always, without exception, perform your own Due Diligence. Don’t take advice from other people without understanding the situation yourself. If you have to ask questions, you should not own the equity. Ask about what you do not own. If you have to ask questions about an equity you already own, you have messed up, and should rethink your strategy. A last but VITAL note is to keep a journal. You should note down every stock purchase you make or decided to not make, noting down the stock, price, date and answers to the 6 questions. This will help massively over time, where you can look back how you felt before and why you made decisions. It helps to keep temporary emotion out, as well as self reflecting which is the most vital learning method of any craft. Q&A Should I buy cheap stocks like $XXX for 4 dollars per share, or expensive stocks like $YYY for 500 dollars per share? IT DOES NOT MATTER. The price of the individual share have no effect whatsoever on the price of the company, how much you will gain or how much risk there is. If you buy 10 A-stocks for 1 dollashare, and if you buy 1 B-stock for 10 dollars/share, both these purchases are EXACTLY the same, in practice. If stock A gains 10% you earn $1.00, if stock B gains 10% you earn $1.00. Then the stocks are valued at $1.1 and $11 respectively. But there is no different. Don’t let the price of the share fool you. The only thing that matters is the market cap, which is the (number of shares*price of 1 share). The market cap is the cost of ALL the shares in the entire company. Some stocks like being expensive to seem exclusive and expensive, but it’s really the company's choice. What numbers matter the most for the companies so I can compare? Well, that's complicated. DIfferent investors value different things. Some value P/E (price per earnings) and some value margin changes. You have to decide for yourself what matters, which leads to tons and tons of reading. Really, if you don't like reading and analyzing, this isn't something for you. Look at ETFs then. As a rule of thumb, 1 or 2 numbers is not enough to gauge the HUGE and COMPLEX being that is a corporation, so don’t get caught on something like P/E. Compare everything. Will I be able to profit? Probably. As a new investor, especially a young one, will see both success and failure over time. This is natural. I recommend investing a smaller amount of money. Either you will gain a few % and be excited to learn and continue, or you will lose a few % and you find the ultimate opportunity to analyze what your mistake was. Is $XXX enough money? Probably. It depends on your broker and fees. Any amount invested into the market is great, and a 10% increase is a 10% increase no matter how much you invest. Depending on your broker though, it might be easier or harder. With high commission, a smaller amount will be eaten by fees. With smaller amount, some expensive stocks (see $BRK.A) might be out of your reach. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem though. What broker should I use? The best one for you! Hard question. It is country dependent. Look around. You want low commission and any perks you require. To start out, depending on how much money you have to invest, look for low-commission brokers. $0 - $3 is a good range per stock purchase. If you pay more than 2% on your investment, you lose 2% to buy in. This would generally cause stock to not be worth to buy. So do some thinking on your own, to invest you will have to get used to it. Some brokers let you buy partial shares as well, which might be a plus if your capital is low to buy the more expensive stocks. What should I invest in? There are so many things! Like said above, cheap funds and common stock are good places to start. They are the core of investing, and should be your start. After that, move on and understand bonds. It will be all important during your career in investing. On top of that there are warrants, options, forex, commodities, and all kinds of additional derivatives. Stay clear of those completely until you can confidently make the call to try it out. My stock increased/decreased in value. Should I sell? Asking this question means that you weren’t thorough enough when you made the purchase. You should always have it written down on a paper. When do you get out? A valid answer is never. If you believe in the business and they prove themself strong, why ever sell? Some people like selling if they gain 30% or lose 30%. Some do the same on 15% respective 10%. It comes down to how much long term faith you have in the company, when you’ll need the money and what your risk tolerance is. Personally, when I buy a company, I will ignore it until something changes in the core business. I re-analyze each company each earning. It takes a lot of time, but its my method. If I buy something more high risk, I will sell at a set loss-% (20-40% loss) and the same on gain. How does taxes work and how should I plan for taxes? Taxes are hard and complicated, but it is something you must understand how it works. Capital gains taxes are vital to understand. Sadly, they work differently in each country, so there is no easy answer except for you to look up it yourself. But know it, it is vital. To end, these are the most important 4 rules of learning how to do all this:
Keep a journal and record the answers to all 6 questions each time you make a purchase, or decided in the end to not.
Each time in your reading if you come over a concept, word or idea that you do not understand, get used to looking it up and learning what it is. It’s key.
When you succeed, analyze if you got lucky or if your actual reasoning was the correct call. When you fail, analyze what your mistake was and write it down in your journal. Both are vital.
TL:DR: Investing is about reading. You should probably start by reading this now or give up. If you read it all, success! Keep going! Disclaimer: Don't invest money that you can't afford to lose. You might lose all your funds. Probably don't. lykosen11
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