Thursday, March 24, 2011

Creating a trading plan

A trading plan is a must. I would be will to bet that virtually all successful traders have one. However, most new traders have no plan. In fact, I bet most new traders barely even have actual reasons for entering a trade. Imagine that you are planning to loan money to a new business as an investment. Could you picture yourself lending money to this person if they had no business plan and said they were going to start their business based on "their gut"? Of course a person would never be able to start a business by relying only on their gut. However, plenty of new traders start trading in exactly that manner.

Creating a trading plan is actually relatively easy. There are several core requirements that make up the plan. In my opinion, the main components of a trading plan are:

  • Trading objective (goals).
  • What and when to trade.
  • Money management.
  • The edge (trading strategy that puts the probabilities in your favor or a long sequence of trades).
  • Documentation and analysis of the results.
  • First, we have to define our trading objectives. Why are you trading? What is your end goal? Most new traders have completely unrealistic goals. For instance, a new trader might wan their $10,000 investment turn into $100,000 in their first year. While this is possible, it is highly improbable. These unrealistic expectations kill off a lot of traders before they ever had a chance. I think breaking even in the first year is an admirable goal; many traders do not do that. If a trader makes 20-30% on their initial investment in their first year, that is outstanding.

    Next, we have to determine the basic outline of how to get there. What currency pairs (or other financial instruments) will you trade? This sounds simple, but it is easy to get off track by not defining this. I am in favor of utilizing as many pairs as you can comfortably manage, but I would not waste time with illiquid, choppy pairs. Other traders love choppy pairs. It's up to you. You also have to determine when you will trade and how often you will trade. Are you going to be a day trader or hold positions for a longer period of time? Your schedule and responsibilities may have some impact on that. But it is important to define these basic ideas to begin to form some consistency.

    cont' reading...

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