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Former investment bank FX trader: Risk management part II

Former investment bank FX trader: Risk management part II
Firstly, thanks for the overwhelming comments and feedback. Genuinely really appreciated. I am pleased 500+ of you find it useful.
If you didn't read the first post you can do so here: risk management part I. You'll need to do so in order to make sense of the topic.
As ever please comment/reply below with questions or feedback and I'll do my best to get back to you.
Part II
  • Letting stops breathe
  • When to change a stop
  • Entering and exiting winning positions
  • Risk:reward ratios
  • Risk-adjusted returns

Letting stops breathe

We talked earlier about giving a position enough room to breathe so it is not stopped out in day-to-day noise.
Let’s consider the chart below and imagine you had a trailing stop. It would be super painful to miss out on the wider move just because you left a stop that was too tight.

Imagine being long and stopped out on a meaningless retracement ... ouch!
One simple technique is simply to look at your chosen chart - let’s say daily bars. And then look at previous trends and use the measuring tool. Those generally look something like this and then you just click and drag to measure.
For example if we wanted to bet on a downtrend on the chart above we might look at the biggest retracement on the previous uptrend. That max drawdown was about 100 pips or just under 1%. So you’d want your stop to be able to withstand at least that.
If market conditions have changed - for example if CVIX has risen - and daily ranges are now higher you should incorporate that. If you know a big event is coming up you might think about that, too. The human brain is a remarkable tool and the power of the eye-ball method is not to be dismissed. This is how most discretionary traders do it.
There are also more analytical approaches.
Some look at the Average True Range (ATR). This attempts to capture the volatility of a pair, typically averaged over a number of sessions. It looks at three separate measures and takes the largest reading. Think of this as a moving average of how much a pair moves.
For example, below shows the daily move in EURUSD was around 60 pips before spiking to 140 pips in March. Conditions were clearly far more volatile in March. Accordingly, you would need to leave your stop further away in March and take a correspondingly smaller position size.

ATR is available on pretty much all charting systems
Professional traders tend to use standard deviation as a measure of volatility instead of ATR. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Averages are useful but can be misleading when regimes switch (see above chart).
Once you have chosen a measure of volatility, stop distance can then be back-tested and optimised. For example does 2x ATR work best or 5x ATR for a given style and time horizon?
Discretionary traders may still eye-ball the ATR or standard deviation to get a feeling for how it has changed over time and what ‘normal’ feels like for a chosen study period - daily, weekly, monthly etc.

Reasons to change a stop

As a general rule you should be disciplined and not change your stops. Remember - losers average losers. This is really hard at first and we’re going to look at that in more detail later.
There are some good reasons to modify stops but they are rare.
One reason is if another risk management process demands you stop trading and close positions. We’ll look at this later. In that case just close out your positions at market and take the loss/gains as they are.
Another is event risk. If you have some big upcoming data like Non Farm Payrolls that you know can move the market +/- 150 pips and you have no edge going into the release then many traders will take off or scale down their positions. They’ll go back into the positions when the data is out and the market has quietened down after fifteen minutes or so. This is a matter of some debate - many traders consider it a coin toss and argue you win some and lose some and it all averages out.
Trailing stops can also be used to ‘lock in’ profits. We looked at those before. As the trade moves in your favour (say up if you are long) the stop loss ratchets with it. This means you may well end up ‘stopping out’ at a profit - as per the below example.

The mighty trailing stop loss order
It is perfectly reasonable to have your stop loss move in the direction of PNL. This is not exposing you to more risk than you originally were comfortable with. It is taking less and less risk as the trade moves in your favour. Trend-followers in particular love trailing stops.
One final question traders ask is what they should do if they get stopped out but still like the trade. Should they try the same trade again a day later for the same reasons? Nope. Look for a different trade rather than getting emotionally wed to the original idea.
Let’s say a particular stock looked cheap based on valuation metrics yesterday, you bought, it went down and you got stopped out. Well, it is going to look even better on those same metrics today. Maybe the market just doesn’t respect value at the moment and is driven by momentum. Wait it out.
Otherwise, why even have a stop in the first place?

Entering and exiting winning positions

Take profits are the opposite of stop losses. They are also resting orders, left with the broker, to automatically close your position if it reaches a certain price.
Imagine I’m long EURUSD at 1.1250. If it hits a previous high of 1.1400 (150 pips higher) I will leave a sell order to take profit and close the position.
The rookie mistake on take profits is to take profit too early. One should start from the assumption that you will win on no more than half of your trades. Therefore you will need to ensure that you win more on the ones that work than you lose on those that don’t.

Sad to say but incredibly common: retail traders often take profits way too early
This is going to be the exact opposite of what your emotions want you to do. We are going to look at that in the Psychology of Trading chapter.
Remember: let winners run. Just like stops you need to know in advance the level where you will close out at a profit. Then let the trade happen. Don’t override yourself and let emotions force you to take a small profit. A classic mistake to avoid.
The trader puts on a trade and it almost stops out before rebounding. As soon as it is slightly in the money they spook and cut out, instead of letting it run to their original take profit. Do not do this.

Entering positions with limit orders

That covers exiting a position but how about getting into one?
Take profits can also be left speculatively to enter a position. Sometimes referred to as “bids” (buy orders) or “offers” (sell orders). Imagine the price is 1.1250 and the recent low is 1.1205.
You might wish to leave a bid around 1.2010 to enter a long position, if the market reaches that price. This way you don’t need to sit at the computer and wait.
Again, typically traders will use tech analysis to identify attractive levels. Again - other traders will cluster with your orders. Just like the stop loss we need to bake that in.
So this time if we know everyone is going to buy around the recent low of 1.1205 we might leave the take profit bit a little bit above there at 1.1210 to ensure it gets done. Sure it costs 5 more pips but how mad would you be if the low was 1.1207 and then it rallied a hundred points and you didn’t have the trade on?!
There are two more methods that traders often use for entering a position.
Scaling in is one such technique. Let’s imagine that you think we are in a long-term bulltrend for AUDUSD but experiencing a brief retracement. You want to take a total position of 500,000 AUD and don’t have a strong view on the current price action.
You might therefore leave a series of five bids of 100,000. As the price moves lower each one gets hit. The nice thing about scaling in is it reduces pressure on you to pick the perfect level. Of course the risk is that not all your orders get hit before the price moves higher and you have to trade at-market.
Pyramiding is the second technique. Pyramiding is for take profits what a trailing stop loss is to regular stops. It is especially common for momentum traders.

Pyramiding into a position means buying more as it goes in your favour
Again let’s imagine we’re bullish AUDUSD and want to take a position of 500,000 AUD.
Here we add 100,000 when our first signal is reached. Then we add subsequent clips of 100,000 when the trade moves in our favour. We are waiting for confirmation that the move is correct.
Obviously this is quite nice as we humans love trading when it goes in our direction. However, the drawback is obvious: we haven’t had the full amount of risk on from the start of the trend.
You can see the attractions and drawbacks of both approaches. It is best to experiment and choose techniques that work for your own personal psychology as these will be the easiest for you to stick with and build a disciplined process around.

Risk:reward and win ratios

Be extremely skeptical of people who claim to win on 80% of trades. Most traders will win on roughly 50% of trades and lose on 50% of trades. This is why risk management is so important!
Once you start keeping a trading journal you’ll be able to see how the win/loss ratio looks for you. Until then, assume you’re typical and that every other trade will lose money.
If that is the case then you need to be sure you make more on the wins than you lose on the losses. You can see the effect of this below.

A combination of win % and risk:reward ratio determine if you are profitable
A typical rule of thumb is that a ratio of 1:3 works well for most traders.
That is, if you are prepared to risk 100 pips on your stop you should be setting a take profit at a level that would return you 300 pips.
One needn’t be religious about these numbers - 11 pips and 28 pips would be perfectly fine - but they are a guideline.
Again - you should still use technical analysis to find meaningful chart levels for both the stop and take profit. Don’t just blindly take your stop distance and do 3x the pips on the other side as your take profit. Use the ratio to set approximate targets and then look for a relevant resistance or support level in that kind of region.

Risk-adjusted returns

Not all returns are equal. Suppose you are examining the track record of two traders. Now, both have produced a return of 14% over the year. Not bad!
The first trader, however, made hundreds of small bets throughout the year and his cumulative PNL looked like the left image below.
The second trader made just one bet — he sold CADJPY at the start of the year — and his PNL looked like the right image below with lots of large drawdowns and volatility.
Would you rather have the first trading record or the second?
If you were investing money and betting on who would do well next year which would you choose? Of course all sensible people would choose the first trader. Yet if you look only at returns one cannot distinguish between the two. Both are up 14% at that point in time. This is where the Sharpe ratio helps .
A high Sharpe ratio indicates that a portfolio has better risk-adjusted performance. One cannot sensibly compare returns without considering the risk taken to earn that return.
If I can earn 80% of the return of another investor at only 50% of the risk then a rational investor should simply leverage me at 2x and enjoy 160% of the return at the same level of risk.
This is very important in the context of Execution Advisor algorithms (EAs) that are popular in the retail community. You must evaluate historic performance by its risk-adjusted return — not just the nominal return. Incidentally look at the Sharpe ratio of ones that have been live for a year or more ...
Otherwise an EA developer could produce two EAs: the first simply buys at 1000:1 leverage on January 1st ; and the second sells in the same manner. At the end of the year, one of them will be discarded and the other will look incredible. Its risk-adjusted return, however, would be abysmal and the odds of repeated success are similarly poor.

Sharpe ratio

The Sharpe ratio works like this:
  • It takes the average returns of your strategy;
  • It deducts from these the risk-free rate of return i.e. the rate anyone could have got by investing in US government bonds with very little risk;
  • It then divides this total return by its own volatility - the more smooth the return the higher and better the Sharpe, the more volatile the lower and worse the Sharpe.
For example, say the return last year was 15% with a volatility of 10% and US bonds are trading at 2%. That gives (15-2)/10 or a Sharpe ratio of 1.3. As a rule of thumb a Sharpe ratio of above 0.5 would be considered decent for a discretionary retail trader. Above 1 is excellent.
You don’t really need to know how to calculate Sharpe ratios. Good trading software will do this for you. It will either be available in the system by default or you can add a plug-in.

VAR

VAR is another useful measure to help with drawdowns. It stands for Value at Risk. Normally people will use 99% VAR (conservative) or 95% VAR (aggressive). Let’s say you’re long EURUSD and using 95% VAR. The system will look at the historic movement of EURUSD. It might spit out a number of -1.2%.

A 5% VAR of -1.2% tells you you should expect to lose 1.2% on 5% of days, whilst 95% of days should be better than that
This means it is expected that on 5 days out of 100 (hence the 95%) the portfolio will lose 1.2% or more. This can help you manage your capital by taking appropriately sized positions. Typically you would look at VAR across your portfolio of trades rather than trade by trade.
Sharpe ratios and VAR don’t give you the whole picture, though. Legendary fund manager, Howard Marks of Oaktree, notes that, while tools like VAR and Sharpe ratios are helpful and absolutely necessary, the best investors will also overlay their own judgment.
Investors can calculate risk metrics like VaR and Sharpe ratios (we use them at Oaktree; they’re the best tools we have), but they shouldn’t put too much faith in them. The bottom line for me is that risk management should be the responsibility of every participant in the investment process, applying experience, judgment and knowledge of the underlying investments.Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital
What he’s saying is don’t misplace your common sense. Do use these tools as they are helpful. However, you cannot fully rely on them. Both assume a normal distribution of returns. Whereas in real life you get “black swans” - events that should supposedly happen only once every thousand years but which actually seem to happen fairly often.
These outlier events are often referred to as “tail risk”. Don’t make the mistake of saying “well, the model said…” - overlay what the model is telling you with your own common sense and good judgment.

Coming up in part III

Available here
Squeezes and other risks
Market positioning
Bet correlation
Crap trades, timeouts and monthly limits

***
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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[educational] Technical analysis, patterns, and charts analysis for the day trader

[educational] Technical analysis, patterns, and charts analysis for the day trader
Chart patterns form a key part of day trading. Candlestick and other charts produce frequent signals that cut through price action “noise”.
The best patterns will be those that can form the backbone of a profitable day trading strategy, whether trading stocks, cryptocurrency of forex pairs.
Every day you have to choose between hundreds of trading opportunities. This is a result of a wide range of factors influencing the market. Day trading patterns enable you to decipher the multitude of options and motivations – from hope of gain and fear of loss, to short-covering, stop-loss triggers, hedging, tax consequences and plenty more.
Candlestick patterns help by painting a clear picture, and flagging up trading signals and signs of future price movements. Whilst it’s said you’ll need to use technical analysis to succeed day trading with candlestick and other patterns, it’s important to note utilizing them to your advantage is more of an art form than a rigid science.
You have to learn the power of chart patterns and the theory that governs them in order to identify the best patterns to supplement your trading style and strategies.

Use In Day Trading

Used correctly trading patterns can add a powerful tool to your arsenal. This is because history has a habit of repeating itself and the financial markets are no exception. This repetition can help you identify opportunities and anticipate potential pitfalls.
RSI, volume, plus support and resistance levels all aide your technical analysis when you’re trading. But crypto chart patterns play a crucial role in identifying breakouts and trend reversals. Mastering the art of reading these patterns will help you make smarter trades and bolster your profits, as highlighted in the highly regarded, ‘stock patterns for day trading’, by Barry Rudd.

Breakouts & Reversals

In the patterns and charts below you’ll see two recurring themes, breakouts and reversals.
  • Breakout – A breakout is simply when the price clears a specified critical level on your chart. This level could by any number of things, from a Fibonacci level, to support, resistance or trend lines.
  • Reversal – A reversal is simply a change in direction of a price trend. That change could be either positive or negative against the prevailing trend. You may also hear it called a ‘rally’, ‘correction’, or ‘trend reversal’.

Candlestick Charts

Candlestick charts are a technical tool at your disposal. They consolidate data within given time frames into single bars. Not only are the patterns relatively straightforward to interpret, but trading with candle patterns can help you attain that competitive edge over the rest of the market.
They first originated in the 18th century where they were used by Japanese rice traders. Since Steve Nison introduced them to the West with his 1991 book ‘Japanese Candlestick Charting Techniques’, their popularity has surged.
Below is a break down of three of the most popular candlestick patterns used for day trading.

Shooting Star Candlestick

This is often one of the first you see when you open a chart with candlestick patterns. This bearish reversal candlestick suggests a peak. It is precisely the opposite of a hammer candle. It won’t form until at least three subsequent green candles have materialized. This will indicate an increase in price and demand. Usually, buyers lose their cool and clamber for the price to increasing highs before they realize they’ve overpaid.
The upper shadow is usually twice the size of the body. This tells you the last frantic buyers have entered trading just as those that have turned a profit have off-loaded their positions. Short-sellers then usually force the price down to the close of the candle either near or below the open. This traps the late arrivals who pushed the price high. Panic often kicks in at this point as those late arrivals swiftly exit their positions.

https://preview.redd.it/gf5dwjhbrdh31.png?width=300&format=png&auto=webp&s=437ff856bfd6ebc95da34528462ba224d964f01f

Doji Candlestick

One of the most popular candlestick patterns for trading forex is the doji candlestick (doji signifies indecision). This reversal pattern is either bearish or bullish depending on the previous candles. It will have nearly, or the same open and closing price with long shadows. It may look like a cross, but it can have an extremely small body. You will often get an indicator as to which way the reversal will head from the previous candles.
If you see previous candles are bullish, you can anticipate the next one near the underneath of the body low will trigger a short/sell signal when the doji lows break. You’ll then see trail stops above the doji highs.
Alternatively, if the previous candles are bearish then the doji will probably form a bullish reversal. Above the candlestick high, long triggers usually form with a trail stop directly under the doji low.
These candlestick patterns could be used for intraday trading with forex, stocks, cryptocurrencies and any number of other assets. But using candlestick patterns for trading interpretations requires experience, so practice on a demo account before you put real money on the line.

https://preview.redd.it/4yo650lcrdh31.png?width=300&format=png&auto=webp&s=b2aa3cdeef23e44e1e3e3047bbe2604fce0a4768

Hammer Candlestick

This is a bullish reversal candlestick. You can use this candlestick to establish capitulation bottoms. These are then normally followed by a price bump, allowing you to enter a long position.
The hammer candlestick forms at the end of a downtrend and suggests a near-term price bottom. The lower shadow is made by a new low in the downtrend pattern that then closes back near the open. The tail (lower shadow), must be a minimum of twice the size of the actual body.
The tails are those that stopped out as shorts started to cover their positions and those looking for a bargain decided to feast. Volume can also help hammer home the candle. To be certain it is a hammer candle, check where the next candle closes. It must close above the hammer candle low.
Trading with Japanese candlestick patterns has become increasingly popular in recent decades, as a result of the easy to glean and detailed information they provide. This makes them ideal for charts for beginners to get familiar with.

https://preview.redd.it/7snzz8qdrdh31.png?width=300&format=png&auto=webp&s=f83ff82f0980dd30c33bc6886ae7e7ed3a98b72f

More Popular Day Trading Patterns

Using Price Action

Many strategies using simple price action patterns are mistakenly thought to be too basic to yield significant profits. Yet price action strategies are often straightforward to employ and effective, making them ideal for both beginners and experienced traders.
Put simply, price action is how the price is likely to respond at certain levels of resistance or support. Using price action patterns from pdfs and charts will help you identify both swings and trendlines.
Whether you’re day trading stocks or forex or crypto with price patterns, these easy to follow strategies can be applied across the board.

Zone Strategy

So, how do you start day trading with short-term price patterns? you will likely employ a ‘zone strategy’. One obvious bonus to this system is it creates straightforward charts, free from complex indicators and distractions.

https://preview.redd.it/7e5x37zerdh31.png?width=300&format=png&auto=webp&s=2098a4c9df4a4556c3024cec1c176ce50c9806c0

Dead Zone

This empty zone tells you that the price action isn’t headed anywhere. There is no clear up or down trend, the market is at a standoff. If you want big profits, avoid the dead zone completely. No indicator will help you makes thousands of pips here.

The Red Zone

This is where things start to get a little interesting. Once you’re in the red zone the end goal is in sight, and that one hundred pip winner within reach. For example, if the price hits the red zone and continues to the upside, you might want to make a buy trade. It could be giving you higher highs and an indication that it will become an uptrend.
This will be likely when the sellers take hold. If the price hits the red zone and continues to the downside, a sell trade may be on the cards. You’d have new lower lows and a suggestion that it will become a downtrend.

The End Zone

This is where the magic happens. With this strategy, you want to consistently get from the red zone to the end zone. Draw rectangles on your charts like the ones found in the example. Then only trade the zones. If you draw the red zones anywhere from 10-20 pips wide, you’ll have room for the price action to do its usual retracement before heading to the downside or upside.

Outside Bar At Resistance Or Support

You’ll see a bullish outside bar if today’s low exceeded yesterdays, but the stock still rallies and closes above yesterday’s high. If the complete opposite price action took place, you’d have yourself the perfect bearish example.
Unfortunately, it isn’t as straightforward as identifying an outside candlestick and then just placing a trade. It’s prudent to find an outside day after a major break of a trend.

https://preview.redd.it/egb0lp6grdh31.png?width=300&format=png&auto=webp&s=b0170eceea5006464e5832bc3a9083c72ee677ad

Spring At Support

The spring is when the stock tests the low of a range, but then swiftly comes back into trading zone and sets off a new trend. One common mistake traders make is waiting for the last swing low to be reached. However, as you’ve probably realized already, trading setups don’t usually meet your precise requirements so don’t stress about a few pennies.

https://preview.redd.it/q82lap2hrdh31.png?width=300&format=png&auto=webp&s=9e40f0bc25c2df06a1d93edb68b293c858a32592

Little To No Price Retracement

Put simply, less retracement is proof the primary trend is robust and probably going to continue. Forget about coughing up on the numerous Fibonacci retracement levels. The main thing to remember is that you want the retracement to be less than 38.2%. This means even when today’s asset tests the previous swing, you’ll have a greater chance that the breakout will either hold or continue towards the direction of the primary trend.

https://preview.redd.it/ey997b2irdh31.png?width=300&format=png&auto=webp&s=c938aac51e3b3bbf1f45a11c46f4ae3dfd1b6dd4
Trading with price patterns to hand enables you to try any of these strategies. Find the one that fits in with your individual trading style. Remember, you’ll often find the best trading chart patterns aren’t overly complex, instead they paint a clear picture using minimal indicators, reducing the likelihood of mistakes and distraction.

Consider Time Frames

When you start trading with your short term price patterns pdf to hand, it’s essential you also consider time frames in your calculations. In your market, you’ll find a number of time frames simultaneously co-existing. This means you can find conflicting trends within the particular asset your trading. Your stock could be in a primary downtrend whilst also being in an intermediate short-term uptrend.
Many traders make the mistake of focusing on a specific time frame and ignoring the underlying influential primary trend. Usually, the longer the time frame the more reliable the signals. When you reduce your time frames you’ll be distracted by false moves and noise.
Many traders download examples of short-term price patterns but overlook the underlying primary trend, do not make this mistake. You should trade-off 15-minute charts, but utilize 60-minute charts to define the primary trend and 5-minute charts to establish the short-term trend.

Wrapping Up

Our understanding of chart patterns has come along way since the initial 1932 work of Richard Schabacker in ‘Technical Analysis and Stock Market Profits’. Schabacker asserted then, ‘any general stock chart is a combination of countless different patterns and its accurate analysis depends upon constant study, long experience and knowledge of all the fine points, both technical and fundamental…’ So whilst there is an abundance of patterns out there, remember accurate analysis and sustained practice is required to fully reap their benefits.

The source : https://www.daytrading.com/patterns
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Your Trading System - Persevere or Pivot?

Hi again /Forex, this is Part 5 of my 6 part series on creating your own trading system. The other posts are up here on reddit too if you want to catch up. Let me know what you think.
Please note all the advice below is directed at very specific issues that you may run into when using your system and then adjusting it based on your results. Your job is to be creative with your solutions to your weaknesses and always demand more from yourself. Be awesome and stand apart from your peers. Demand success.
Have you heard of the word "pivot" when referring to tech startups? If not, it simply means that a certain business idea is having a hard time gaining traction and the company has therefore decided to "pivot" away, meaning they're starting again from scratch with a new product or simply reinventing the old product in a new way.
Often in trading you’ll find the new guys are constantly "pivoting" to the point where they're dizzy and confused. Pivots are well and good when justified but how can we as traders justify the need to pivot? When should we simply persevere with what we've been doing?
Great questions, thanks for asking them you handsome devil!
The answer is:
When in doubt, persevere (and tweak).
Easy! Alright article over.
Seriously though, if you haven't read my previous articles I'd recommend you do so now before we get too deep into this topic. As a quick recap, so far on your developmental journey you should have:
*Developed a foundation trading system based on your beliefs and experiences.
*Created basic guidelines as to how you're going to trade in different market conditions.
*Made a commitment to track your trades like the trading machine you are.
And you're doing all those things wonderfully aren't you?? Great!
Now, let's say we've been tracking our trades for a few weeks now and we've had strings of winners, losers and in-betweeners and we're now ready to step back and see how we're going. We're seeing some patterns and some inconsistencies and it's time to do something about it.
If you've read the last article, you'll know what we're looking for when observing our trades. To summarise, we're especially interested in.
*Win percentages.
*Average reward : risk outcome of your trades.
*The market conditions that each trade was taken in.
*How well you followed your rules in each trade.
These are the cornerstones of your consistent success and we'll be judging (and tweaking) our systems based on these outcomes.
Now, let's look at each point and some I’ll make some suggestions for altering your foundation trading system in order to overcome their weaknesses.
Win Percentages
Higher win percentages (above 50%) are a huge psychological boon to most developing traders but their importance must always be balanced against the context of reward : risk, which we'll discuss next.
Look at the current win percentage of your foundation trading system, what are your thoughts? How has it impacted you emotionally? If you're breaking even with a low win percentage, it means you're getting great reward : risk opportunities which is FANTASTIC. The problem with this is a psychological one as lower win percentages can mean longer losing streaks and therefore larger account draw-down.
You need to make a call as to whether you're ok with this for the long term or if you want to adjust your system to increase your win percentages and perhaps give up some profit potential as a result. Unfortunately it's incredibly difficult to have both a high win percentage and a high reward to risk system and you need to make the call with which you’d prefer to focus on.
Just be realistic and focus on incremental improvements.
In the scenario that you're making decent profits when you're right but you're also right a little bit less than you're comfortable with, you need to go back and look at your trading log and screenshots, looking for the following things:
*How would a larger stop loss have affected the outcomes of your trades? Would the extra "breathing room" have impacted your trading positively or not?
*What were the market conditions like in both your winners and losers? Do you notice that losses coincide with sideways markets? If so, how would you filter those trades in the future? Are you constantly trading counter trend, trying to catch little bounces opposite current market sentiment?
*Could you have managed your profit taking in a more efficient manner? What if you'd moved stops after price moved x amount of pips away?
These are all great questions to be asking yourself after a nice big batch of trading. When you have the answers to the questions, you need to be creative in how you'll incorporate those improvements into your plan.
Once you've added some new filters or adjusted some old ones, it's time to re-test and see how your changes impact your profitability!
Always moving forwards and getting better. Change your mindset to one of learning and control, rather than helplessness and indecision and you’ll be years ahead of your fellow traders.
Average Reward : Risk
This number goes hand in hand with your win percentage. Like I said above, you probably can't have both numbers as high as you'd like. This is an unfortunate reality that can take a long time to completely sink in.
Alright, we discussed the questions we might ask if we have a system that has a low win % but a high reward : risk ratio, but what if our reward: risk is in need of help in order to improve our edge? What might we be looking for to improve our system?
The most common causes of a shitty reward: risk ratio are often:
*Your stop loss is only a "OH SHIT" protector. This can be absolutely fine with the right system in place but make sure your system is up to the challenge.
*Trading counter trend or in slow sideways markets. In these scenarios you've got to give yourself some big wiggle room to catch the retracement or bounce and even then, the nature of a retracement means you're simply not catching big moves.
*You get scared or anxious once in profit. This is an absolute deal breaker. If you can't let your winners run with some strict rules in place, you need to start developing some skills that will help you do so.
These are all fine and fixable so no need to worry. What's important is that you're identifying your weaknesses and improving them. Now, the solution to the above issues seems obvious enough doesn't it?
*Consider moving your initial stop loss to a place where your setup and initial setup theory has been proven wrong, rather than only protecting against "holy shit" moments.
*Consider trading with current market sentiment rather than against it. I know it's fun to catch tops and bottoms but simply look at a chart and see where the money is being made. Is it by catching huge impulsive moves in strong trends or looking for bounces? Trends tend to be much more lucrative, it's really as simple as that.
*Scared or anxious once in profit? You're going to have to practice your way out. If you're trading live, stop. If you can't stop, trade with the smallest lot size your broker will let you use. Make solid rules to lean against in order to create confidence, process and habit in your trading.
There will be many other scenarios that might be impacting your reward : risk ratio but what's important is that you identify what they are by leaning on your super high quality journal and screenshots that you're keeping ever so diligently!
Market Conditions
What was the market sentiment during your winning trades and losing trades? Were you more profitable trading WITH market sentiment or AGAINST it? Don’t overcomplicate this.
Don’t overcomplicate your definition of market sentiment either. Price is either going up, sideways or down. It's doing those things either slowly or quickly. Work out which works for your system and focus on those.
Remember, all we’re doing in this process is building on your strengths and eliminate your weaknesses, both in your system and in your mind.
Following Your Rules
What percentage of your trades met your systems requirements with 100% accuracy? If you eliminated the trades that didn't meet your requirements, how much different would the outcome have been over your sample size?
As per the last article, remember:
When in doubt, create a rule.
Not sure what you should be doing? Create a rule. It doesn't matter what it is, you can adjust later if it needs improving. What's important is that you have a place to improve from.
So What?
I guess the overall message is this: Persevere with your system and make adjustments based on its weaknesses and strengths. Making some big trades but your win percentage is too low? Go back and look for patterns why that's the case. In almost all cases you should be able to see patterns in both your winners and losers when looking at a big enough sample size.
During this tweaking process, you need to also qualify the importance and quality of your “concepts” that you’re using in your foundation trading system. If you’re trading based on candlestick price action and a particular part of that concept isn’t working, experiment with it. Adjust that one factor and re-test for another two weeks or 20 trades and see how it works out. What were the strengths of the new system? Where did it seam weaker?
In case you haven’t gathered yet, it’s also important that you run these tests in stages. You cannot be changing your system every other day based on your perceived results and expect to get better. It doesn’t work like that. Challenge yourself to take 20, 30, 40 trades before you consider the quality of your system. Don’t adjust ANYTHING even during a 10 trade losing streak. Just keep sticking to your rules and LEARN.
What if you’re completely unhappy with your results and your system isn't resonating with you?
Maybe it's time for you to pivot.
You NEED to feel comfortable with a system and that should be the case since you created your system from scratch starting from Part One. If you've created your system from scratch but HATE using it, it might be time for a change.
You're not going to continually and diligently improve something that you hate to use, so it's best you create another foundation trading system on which to build on.
What if you LIKE trading with your foundation trading system but you're not sure where to go from here? You can't identify any clear patterns based on win percentage, reward : risk, market sentiment or your rules? Leave a message in the comments and I'm sure some fellow traders might have some suggestions.
It's possible you've got a lemon foundation trading system but it's also possible you've got a FANTASTIC foundation on which you'll build consistency and success. Remember, when in doubt, persevere. Your system can always be improved and by doing so you'll create an even better understanding and bond with it. You'll know how it performs in specific market conditions because you've seen it before.
You're far beyond most traders at this point and you've been confirmed for being awesome, so well done.
In the next article I'll discuss some education suggestions if you're not even at a point where you can create your own foundation trading system and you’re not sure what resonates with you and what doesn't. Please let me know how you've found this series so far, I greatly appreciate any feedback, good or bad.
All the best,
Ben - TraderGrowth
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