The Evolution of a Trader
The Evolution of a Trader
I recently became an Extended Learning Track (XLT) instructor, and with that, I've taken on different responsibilities. Although every session is only two hours in length, it's very important for me to keep a good pace and more importantly, provide content that students can use to locate good trading opportunities. In addition, I'm finding some interesting questions being asked of me in some of these sessions.
In one session, we were reviewing some of the commodities markets for low risk swing trading possibilities. Specifically, we were looking at the grains (corn, wheat, and soybeans) and what is referred to as the "softs" (coffee, cocoa, and sugar). I mentioned that looking at these markets took me back to my early days as a commodities broker, and that it had been over 15 years since I traded some of these markets. One of the students asked why I no longer traded some of these markets. I explained that my trading style had "evolved" over the years to where trading these types of markets was no longer part of my trading plan. There are a multitude of markets that one can trade, but I have chosen to narrow my focus to a very small number.
Similar to life or other careers, traders evolve through their experiences (good or bad), or perhaps because what they seek from the markets changes. For those traders who are young, single and care free, a more active, more aggressive approach to trading might be better suited. But as these individuals begin to age, start their families, and begin accumulating some assets, those old riskier methods will most likely be toned down to more conservative approaches.
As we get older our temperament for risk lessens, as we have a lot more to lose than we did in our younger days. I know that's true for myself, and consequently, I'm more selective in the trades I choose to take. This translates into trading less, but higher quality setups.
Experiences will also shape a trader's evolution. As the old adage "once burned, twice shy" states, when we've been " burned" too often because of a particular indicator or approach, the assumption is that most of us will learn from our mistakes and refrain from repeating that which has caused us to lose frequently. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work that way.
Some experiences may actually be counterproductive in the positive evolution of a trader. One example is when a trader practices what is known in the business as "averaging down." This is where a trader enters a trade and immediately finds himself underwater. As the trade moves against him, he adds to his position. His rationale is that if he adds another contract at a lower price, the cost basis (price he paid) will be lower, and thus a smaller move will be required to make back his loss. Sometimes, and this where the problem lies, doing this will actually work. If it works several times, he'll continue doing it, engendering a false sense of security until the day the market doesn't come back. That's the day of reckoning that some traders take a long time to recover from. And some never do.
In similar fashion, when a trader is initiated into the markets (and by sheer luck) ends up making a big winning trade, the illusion that it's easy to make money trading is cemented early. This false notion that making consistent profits without a strategy or discipline will only serve to cause major frustration when the truth is finally uncovered.
The positive experiences, meaning profitability through planning and good execution, will be the linchpin that helps mold a systematic trader. As is true with any endeavor, desired results are what will motivate anyone to evolve in a constructive manner.
All in all, every trader's evolution will be different dependent upon some of the factors discussed here. The XLT classroom, because of the interaction and shared experiences among students and instructors (in my humble opinion), is a fertile training ground for would-be traders, and as such, will help in this evolution. It may also assist in accelerating the learning curve, and reinforcing the strategies needed to tackle this fascinating world of financial speculation. With that said, I hope to see many more of you in the XLT room very soon.
Until next time, trade them well.
- Gabe Velazquez
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