When trading, as in most endeavors, it’s important to start at the end and work backwards to create your plan and figure out what type of trader you should be. The most successful traders trade to a plan, and may even have several plans that work together. Always write things down. Why? Because it will help you stay focused on your trading objectives, and the less judgment we have to use the better. A plan helps you maintain discipline as a trader. It should help you trade consistently, manage your emotions, and even help to improve your trading strategy. It is also important to use your plan. Many people make the mistake of spending all their time creating a plan, then never implementing it.
Make sure you do your own research and build a plan according to your needs. Find confidence in what you know. The tools you have selected for your strategy are key, from the type of chart to the specific drawing tools to even the most elaborate of strategies. Test your plan in the beginning to make sure you are on the right track. After you have begun trading, continue testing it regularly. This allows you to measure your success by clearly seeing what works and what does not work. From there you can tweak elements that might be weaker and not contributing to your overall goal. Ask yourself the following questions:
If your immediate answer is, “to make money” you should stop right there. If the only goal is to make as much money as fast as we can, we are ultimately doomed, because it will never be enough. Managing your losses should be your primary goal. This will create an environment in which profits can be generated.
Solid retirement? New career? Spend more time with family and friends? Ask yourself, “What are my strengths and weaknesses?”
Is the amount of money I have to trade with sensible to achieve my goals? Look at things in percentages; remember leverage is a double-edged sword. That is why risk and money management are key.
Deciding what type of trader you are can be tough; especially since the trader you want to be can be very different from the type of trader you should be based on your behaviors and characteristics. Once you have laid out your goals, risk appetite, strengths, and weaknesses it should become apparent which type of trading fits you best. You will notice three columns in the chart; they are labeled short, base and long. Base equals the timeframe charts you spend the majority of your time, if you are not sure, this is the timeframe chart that you keep going back to. Short and long are the timeframe charts that you refer to confirming or denying what is happening in the base timeframe chart. A common mistake traders make is jumping around randomly between chart timeframes.
Once you decide what type of trader you are, you should begin to invest yourself into education and research. Make continual learning a priority, each person’s strategy or methodology is unique and cannot be duplicated. Therefore your plan is most successful when it is based on your individual needs. Evaluate your needs and the effort required. Make sure you understand why you are placing trades. An initial investment maybe monetary but will benefit you over the long-term. Time and research should be continuing investments. Research by way of following current global events and keeping up to date on current analysis tools will help educate you further on all aspects of trading. Ask yourself, “Am I a fundamental or technical trader?”
Creating a strategy using fundamental and technical tools is key, but we first need to learn a little about each of these types. Some traders choose to use fundamental analysis to assist with their trading decisions. This type of analysis is based on the news. News can be considered anything ranging from economic, political, or even environmental events. As a result, fundamental analysis is much more subjective.
Other traders may choose to use technical analysis to drive their trading decisions. This type of analysis is more definitive and relies more on the math and probabilities behind trading. The specific type of analysis used can be an indicator. They could be either leading or lagging. There are very few leading indicators available, which may give an idea of where the market is going to go. Fibonacci is the most popular, but most misused and misunderstood.
After determining some of the types of analysis you will use, it’s time to develop a trading strategy. This can be through fundamental analysis, technical analysis, or a combination of both. It is key that you develop a strategy and include it as a part of your trading plan.
A strategy is a step-by-step systematic approach to how and when we are going to use tools developing a sequence of analysis. Here is what we can expect to see in a trading strategy:
This sequence will lead us to what a high probability trade looks like visually based on the indicators and analysis we are using. Since we have what we need for our strategy, let’s take a look at the money and risk management side of trading.
Talking about money and risk management can be a difficult step for many people. Trying to determine what your risk tolerance is can be even harder. Ask yourself, “How much money do I really have to trade with?” Be honest with what is truly available to you. One mistake that people make is thinking that trading is an investing or holding activity, and keep depositing money. Trading is not a deposit and hold activity. Liquidation can and does happen when 100% of the total margin requirement of all open positions is no longer met. Those who make money may not have more winning trades than losing; they may just manage their losing trades so the winning ones make them profitable overall. It can be easier to win fewer times and still be profitable. A common characteristic of new traders is to quickly take profits but let losing trades run, consequently they have to maintain a higher risk to reward ratio.
Let’s think in terms of probability. It is helpful to use the 3% rule and always have a cushion. This is an example of the 3% rule in action: 3% on a $10,000 account is equal to $300 risk per trade. Then divide the cost of risk by the account equity, to get the number of losing trades or $10,000/$300 or 33.3 trades. These answers will help you determine if you can meet your goals. It allows you to give yourself room for flexibility. Traders limit their trading and the plan if there is not enough room for the losses. When developing your trading plan and approach it’s important to take other costs into consideration, some may have more of an impact than others, but all contribute to your investment in a trading plan. Assuming we have the right strategy decided and how much equity to risk, let’s figure out timing.
Timing when trading can be everything. When do the markets open? When do they close? What instruments (like currency pairs) am I trading? Some markets are open when others are closed or they may overlap. Here are the open and close times for some of the major markets. More volatility occurs at market opening and closings but also when reports or news are released. The beauty of trading some instruments is the ability to trade them even if the market you physically reside in is closed. The illustration below shows the overlap of markets that are open. Notice the times where more than two markets are open simultaneously. From 8am Eastern Time or 1pm GMT to 12pm Eastern Time or 5pm GMT, it displays the most markets open globally. Picking your times to trade or watch the market maybe easier since there is likely a market open somewhere in the world.
We have reviewed some of the the key components of a trading plan, now it is time to plan the actual trade, and how to stay on track.
There is no magic combination but some things to consider when trying to increase your trade probability may help.
Documentation, this is crucial to our success. If we are not consistent in the way we apply our methodology, it is hard to go back with any degree of accuracy to see if the plan worked. We will never know for sure what the probabilities are in trading but you have a much better chance of being successful if you follow a predetermined plan. We can continue to fine tune and make the strategy as mechanical as possible, removing emotion will keep you on your path.
Any analyst or trading guide will tell you how important it is to manage your risk. However, how does one go about managing that risk? And what exactly do they mean by managing risk? Here is a step-by-step guide to one of the most important concepts in financial trading.
This is a personal choice for anyone who plans on trading any market. Most trading instructors will throw out numbers like 1%, 2% or on up to 5% of the total value of your account risked on each trade placed, but a lot of your comfort with these numbers is largely based on your experience level. Newer traders are inherently less sure of themselves due to their lack of knowledge and familiarity with trading overall or with a new system, so it makes sense to utilize the smaller percentage risk levels.
Once you become more comfortable with the system you are using, you may feel the urge to increase your percentage, but be cautious not to go too high. Sometimes trading methodologies can produce a string of losses, but the goal of trading is to either realize a return or maintain enough to make the next trade.
For instance, if you have a trading method that places one trade per day on average and you are risking 10% of your beginning monthly balance on each trade, it would only theoretically take 10 straight losing trades to completely drain your account. So even if you are an experienced trader, it doesn’t make much sense to risk so much on one single trade.
On the other hand, if you were to risk 2% on each trade that you place, you would theoretically have to lose 50 consecutive trades to drain your account. Which do you think is more likely: losing 10 straight trades, or losing 50?
The amounts of methodologies to use in trading are virtually endless. Some methods have you use a very specific stop loss and profit target on each trade you place while others vary greatly on the subject. For instance, if you use a strategy that calls for a 20-pip stop loss on each trade and you only trade the EUR/USD, it would be easy to figure out how many contracts you may want to enter to achieve your desired result. However, for those strategies that vary on the size of stops or even the instrument traded, figuring out the amount of contracts to enter can get a little tricky.
One of the easiest ways to make sure you are getting as close to the amount of money that you want to risk on each trade is to customize your position sizes. A standard lot in a currency trade is 100,000 units of currency, which represents $10/pip on the EUR/USD if you have the U.S. dollar (USD) as your base currency; a mini lot is 10,000.
If you wanted to risk $15 per pip on a EUR/USD trade, it would be impossible to do so with standard lots and could force you in to risking either too much or too little on the trade you place, whereas both mini and micro lots could get you to the desired amount. The same could be said about wanting to risk $12.50 per pip on a trade; both standard and mini lots fail to achieve the desired result, whereas micro lots could help you achieve it. In the realm of trading, having the flexibility to risk what you want, when you want, could be a determining factor to your success.
There may not be anything more frustrating in trading than missing a potentially successful trade simply because you weren’t available when the opportunity arose. With forex being a 24-hour-a-day market, that problem presents itself quite often, particularly if you trade smaller timeframe charts. The most logical solution to that problem would be to create or buy an automated trading robot, but that option isn’t viable for a large segment of traders who are either skeptical of the technology/source or don’t want to relinquish the controls.
That means that you have to be available to place trades when the opportunities arise, in person, and of full mind and body. Waking up at 3am to place a trade usually doesn’t qualify unless you’re used to getting only 2-3 hours of sleep. Therefore, the average person who has a job, kids, soccer practice, a social life, and a lawn that needs to be mowed needs to be a little more thoughtful about the time they want to commit. Perhaps 4-Hour, 8-Hour, or Daily charts are more amenable to that lifestyle where time may be the most valuable component to trading happiness.
Another way to manage your risk when you’re not in front of your computer is to set trailing stop orders. Trailing stops can be a vital part of any trading strategy. They allow a trade to continue to gain in value while the market price moves in a favorable direction, but automatically closes the trade if the market price suddenly moves in an unfavorable direction by a specified distance.
When the market price moves in a favorable direction (up for long positions, down for short positions), the trigger price follows the market price by the specified stop distance. If the market price moves in an unfavorable direction, the trigger price stays stationary and the distance between this price and the market price becomes smaller. If the market price continues to move in an unfavorable direction until it reaches the trigger price, an order is triggered to close the trade.
Many market participants are knowledgeable of the fact that most popular markets close their doors on Friday afternoon Eastern Time in the US.
Investors pack up their things for the weekend, and charts around the world freeze as if prices remain at that level until the next time they are able to be traded. However, that frozen position is a fallacy; it isn’t real. Prices are still moving to and from based on the happenings of that particular weekend, and can move drastically from where they were on Friday until the time they are visible again after the weekend.
This can create “gaps” in the market that can actually run beyond your intended stop loss or profit target. For the latter, it would be a good thing, for the former – not so much. There is a possibility you could take a larger loss than you intended because a stop loss is executed at the best available price after the stop is triggered; which could be much worse than you planned.
While gaps aren’t necessarily common, they do occur, and can catch you off guard. As in the illustration below, the gaps can be extremely large and could jump right over a stop if it was placed somewhere within that gap. To avoid them, simply exit your trade before the weekend hits, and perhaps even look to exploit them by using a gap-trading technique.
News events can be particularly perilous for traders who are looking to manage their risk as well. Certain news events like employment, central bank decisions, or inflation reports can create abnormally large moves in the market that can create gaps like a weekend gap, but much more sudden. Just as gaps over the weekend can jump over stops or targets, the same could happen in the few seconds after a major news event. So unless you are specifically looking to take that strategic risk by placing a trade previous to the news event, trading after those volatile events is often a more risk-conscious decision.
There is a specific doctrine in trading that is extolled by responsible trading entities, and that is that you should never invest more than you can afford to lose. The reason that is such a widespread manifesto is that it makes sense. Trading is risky and difficult, and putting your own livelihood at risk on the machinations of market dynamics that are varied and difficult to predict is tantamount to putting all of your savings on either red or black at the roulette table of your favorite Vegas casino. So don’t gamble away your hard-earned trading account: invest it in a way that is intelligent and consistent.
So will you be a successful trader if you follow all six of these tenants for managing risk? Of course not, other factors need to be considered to help you achieve your goals. However, taking a proactive role in managing your risk can increase your likelihood for long term success.
Orders can be an effective tool to help you better manage your risk and should always be considered as part of your overall trading strategy. While orders can have a critical role in helping you to achieve your trading goals they cannot necessarily limit your losses.
Let’s take a look at some of the most commonly orders used to manage risk.
Limit orders are primarily used to enter into positions and protect profits.
Being in a winning position is probably one of the most fulfilling feelings there is in trading; the world makes sense, and your chair is just a little more comfortable. Why in the world would you ever want to end that feeling? Well very rarely do markets go in one direction for an exorbitant amount of time; so it’s important that you determine a point with which to take your hard earned gains before you place the trade.
Stop orders are probably the most popular order type used to limit losses and manage downside risk.
Our minds can play some nasty tricks on us when we are under pressure, particularly when money is on the line. If you enter into a position without a stop order, you are opening yourself up to the psychological effects of the “just one more” paradox.
Trailing stops allow you to guard against your profits while at the same time limit downside risk.
So maybe you’re having a hard time simply taking profit at a particular point; maybe you want to keep pushing the envelope to see where you can take your trade but at the same time you want to limit your losses. In this type of scenario, you may want to consider a trailing stop. A trailing stop dynamically protects your profits on the upside and attempts to protect your losses on the downside.
Unlike a limit or stop order, a trailing stop allows you to specify the amount of pips from the current rate, as opposed to rate at which to trigger a market order. The number of pips automatically trails your order as the market moves in your favor. If the market moves against you, then a market order is triggered and the trade is executed at the next available rate depending on liquidity.
Contracts for Difference or CFDs, as they are commonly referred to, are derivative instruments that enable traders to speculate on a wide range of financial markets, without taking direct ownership of the underlying asset. The contract referred to is an agreement between the buyer and the seller to exchange the difference between the opening and closing price of the asset being traded.
As derivative instruments, Contracts for Difference provide investors with a range of advantages when compared with other, more traditional forms of investment.
With CFDs, traders are able to speculate on both rising and falling markets. This means that there are more trading opportunities available, as profit can be made from buying or selling Contracts for Difference on a wide range of financial instruments. As an example, when an investor buys company shares or stocks, profit can only be earned if they rise in price. In comparison, with CFDs, an investor can also profit by selling shares if they believe a company’s stock value will drop.
By registering with an online CFD broker like Pacific Union, traders are able to invest in a wide range of financial markets through an online trading platform. From a single account, traders have access to Contracts for Difference on forex, shares, indices, metals and commodities, providing a wide range of investment opportunities.
Through the use of financial leverage, investors are able to trade the markets with a smaller initial deposit. Essentially, leverage acts as a loan that a trader takes from their broker, enabling them to control larger CFD positions on the market by investing a smaller amount of capital, which is reserved as margin. This makes CFD trading more accessible and cost-effective than other investment methods.
Another reason that CFD trading can be more cost-effective than other forms of investing is that, when trading Contracts for Difference, there is no stamp duty to pay. As CFDs are derivative instruments, an investor is not taking ownership of the underlying asset, as such, stamp duty does not apply. WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF CFD TRADING?
Although there are numerous benefits to CFD trading, an investor must also ensure they fully understand the risks involved when trading financial derivatives.
Trading on margin enables investors to open a CFD position on the market with a smaller initial deposit, however, it also carries a certain level of risk. If a trader enters the market undercapitalised and overleveraged, even the smallest price movements can wipe out their entire investment. As such, it is critical that an investor fully understands how CFD trading works and has a sound risk management strategy in place before opening a position.
Although CFD trading can be a cost-effective method of investing in the financial markets, if positions are left open for extended periods and not managed effectively, costs can accrue over time. Investors looking to open long-term trades should be aware of additional costs, such as swap, that is charged for holding positions overnight, in addition to the traditional spread markup or commission charges. All potential charges should be calculated before opening a position and well-managed thereafter, to ensure the best possible result.
Due to the fact that CFD trading is accessible to retail investors of all sizes, with minimal initial capital required, there is the potential risk that overtrading may occur. Overtrading is when a portfolio is too exposed at any given time. This would mean that the remaining capital in a trader’s account is insufficient to cover the potential losses from all their open positions. If price movements on a number of trades were to move against an investor in this situation, it could lead to a loss of their entire investment. As such, it is of paramount importance that investors carefully manage their open positions when CFD trading and ensure they have sufficient funds to meet the margin requirements.
Before you start something new, begin with the fundamentals. Let’s look at trading tips every trader should consider before trading currency pairs.
We cannot overstate the importance of educating yourself on the forex market. Take the time to study currency pairs and what affects them before risking your own capital; it’s an investment in time that could save you a good amount of money.
Creating a trading plan is a critical component of successful trading. It should include your profit goals, risk tolerance level, methodology and evaluation criteria. Once you have a plan in place, make sure each trade you consider falls within your plan’s parameters. Remember: you’re likely most rational before you place a trade and most irrational after your trade is placed.
Put your trading plan to the test in real market conditions with a risk-free Pacific Union practice account. You’ll get a chance to see what it’s like to trade currency pairs while taking your trading plan for a test drive without risking any of your own capital.
Fundamental traders prefer to trade based on news and other financial and political data; technical traders prefer technical analysis tools such as Fibonacci retracements and other indictors to forecast market movements. Most traders use a combination of the two. No matter what your style, it is important you use the tools at your disposal to find potential trading opportunities in moving markets.
This is simple yet critical to your future success: know your limits. This includes knowing how much you’re willing to risk on each trade, setting your leverage ratio in accordance with your needs, and never risking more than you can afford to lose.
You don’t have time to sit and watch the markets every minute of every day. You can better manage your risk and protect potential profits through stop and limit orders, getting you out of the market at the price you set. Trailing stops are especially helpful; they trail your position at a specific distance as the market moves, helping to protect profits should the market reverse. Placing contingent orders may not necessarily limit your risk for losses.
You have an open position and the market’s not going your way. Maybe you could make it up with a trade or two that don’t fit with your trading plan…just a couple couldn’t hurt, right?
“Revenge trading” rarely ends well. Don’t let emotion get in the way of your plan for successful trading. When you have a losing trade, don’t go all-in to try to make it back in one shot; it’s smarter to stick with your plan and make the lost back a little at a time than to suddenly find yourself with two crippling losses.
One key to trading is consistency. All traders have lost money, but if you maintain a positive edge, you have a better chance of coming out on top. Educating yourself and creating a trading plan is good, but the real test is sticking to that plan through patience and discipline.
While consistency is important, don’t be afraid to re-evaluate your trading plan if things aren’t working like you thought. As your experience grows, your needs may change; your plan should always reflect your goals. If your goals or financial situation changes, so should your plan.
It’s critical to choose the right trading partner as you engage the forex market. Pricing, execution, and the quality of customer service can all make a difference in your trading experience.
Trading forex can be a rewarding and exciting challenge, but it can also be discouraging if you are not careful. Whether you’re new to forex trading or an experienced veteran, avoiding these trading mistakes can help keep your trades on the right track.
Currency pairs are closely linked to national economies and are affected by many factors. They are also traded 24/5, meaning there is usually something going on that will move the markets.
Before entering a trade, make sure you do your homework. Not only should you be aware of upcoming events that could affect your trade, but you also need to forecast which way these events could swing the markets. Pay attention to what your technical indicators are telling you and how they compare to your fundamental event analysis.
One common mistake new traders make is misunderstanding how leverage works. Familiarize yourself with margin and leverage to help avoid accidentally putting more capital at risk than you had planned.
Many traders find it helpful to set a maximum percentage of their capital that they are willing to risk at one time, usually 1% to 3%. For example, if you have $50,000 of equity and are willing to risk 2% maximum, you would not tie up more than $1,000 at one time. It is important that you stick to that maximum once you set it.
You cannot watch the forex markets 24 hours a day. Stop and limit orders help you get in and out of the market at predetermined prices. This not only allows the trading platform to execute trades when you are not available, but it also makes you think through to the end of your trade and set exit strategies before you’re actually in the trade and your emotions get the best of you. Placing contingent orders may not necessarily limit your risk for losses.
A loss never feels good. It can make you emotional and irrational, tempting you to make kneejerk follow-up trades that are outside your trading plan.
No trader makes a great trade every time. Accept that losses are part of the reality of trading and stick to your plan. In the long run, your trading plan should compensate for that loss; if not, review your plan and adjust.
Using your hard-earned capital to test a new trading plan is almost as risky as trading without a plan at all. Before you start trading real money, open a forex practice account and use virtual funds to try out trading plans and get a feel for the trading platform you are using. Although you will not be affected by your emotions the same way you will be when trading your own money, this is also a chance to see how you react to trades not going your way and learn from your mistakes without the risk.
Gold has long been valued by societies all over the world for its inherent lustre and malleability. Today, traders treasure gold (XAU/USD) because it is often viewed as the ultimate safe-haven asset, usually weathering market turbulence and retaining its value in periods of uncertainty. Traders also use gold to hedge against inflation and diversify their investments because gold often reacts differently to market stimuli than other assets.
Interest rates: Historically, one of the most reliable determinants of gold’s price has been the level of real interest rates, or the interest rate less inflation. When real interest rates are low, investment alternatives like cash and bonds tend to provide a low or negative return, pushing investors to seek alternative ways to protect the value of their wealth. On the other hand, when real interest rates are high, strong returns are possible in cash and bonds and the appeal of holding a yellow metal with few industrial uses diminishes. One easy way to see a proxy for real interest rates in the United States, the world’s largest economy, is to look at the yield on Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS).
The U.S. dollar: One of the biggest points of contention for gold traders is on the true correlation between gold and the U.S. dollar. Because gold is priced in U.S. dollars, it would be logical to assume that the two assets are inversely correlated, meaning that the value of gold and the dollar move opposite to one another.
Unfortunately, this overly simplistic view of the correlation does not hold in all cases. Periods of financial stress can cause the U.S. dollar to rise and gold to spike rapidly. This is usually because traders will buy both gold and the U.S. dollar as safe-haven assets in these periods of uncertainty.