2017 Annual Performance released

`account tatement

You win some, you lose less.

Here it it. My 2017 annual account from OANDA.

I’m lazy to calculate the % gains. I only care about the net realized profit.

So yup. Let’s hope 2018 will compound the gains using increasing position sizes.

#smartcasualtradding

 

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When Success is Failure: Loss of Momentum

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Using momentum as a trading strategy but prices have to move

I haven’t blogged is such a long time until recently I’ve been getting pings of readers liking my old posts, which got me thinking what happened to my momentum in blogging and setting up Smart Casual Trading™ in the first place.

Linking it to trading, using oscillators or momentum indicators is one of the many ways of trading. The thing is, you need prices to move. You need force. And this force is provided by liquidity, traders entering and exiting the market at various prices, herd mentality, trading psychology, greed, fear, all these leading to rational and irrational actions that result in action: Buy or sell.

These actions create the force to push prices up, down, sideways, and with the movement of prices, comes momentum, which I’ve mentioned many times, is simply an indicator, which is always, always dependent on price movements.

In simple terms, if there is no price movement, no force, no action, there will be no momentum.

In 2017, I made enough profits to match my previous full time salary. To me, that is success, and achievement, a goal that I aimed for.

The flip side to that, is on reflection, this success came about from simply doing the same things over and over again, recognizing what works, reflecting on what doesn’t, and realizing mistakes, and taking action on those mistakes.

The nagging thought at the back of my mind, is whether this loss of momentum, of a force to try new strategies, test the unknown, venture and expand into what I wanted to be a successful project in Smart Casual Trading™, will result in my failure.

Failure to grow.

Sure, profits are still being made, the account is growing. But what about Smart Casual Trading™? I reflect now that, because I have succeeded in making consistent, sustainable profits that can cover the costs of living and more, I have lost the momentum in pursuing my other passion: Coaching and education.

Momentum needs a force. A call to action. And, action itself.

I am apparently considered an “established” and “expert” trader. I don’t proclaim to be one myself, I consider myself just a regular guy who had the tenacity, to the point of desperation, to make forex trading work for myself. I had the call to action. I took the action. And I had the momentum, and here I am now, an independent retail forex trader making a full time living from trading the forex market.

What happened to the momentum to push Smart Casual Trading™?

I guess, I have to say at this point..

Stay tuned.

Thank you to those who have chosen to follow my blog. You are the calls to action for me.

 

My personal problems with Trend Trading, the supposed Holy Grail

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I think it is safe for me to say every aspiring trader starts off with trend trading strategies. It’s easy to understand, easy to interpret, and easy to execute. I personally started as a trend trader. With the typical rules starting with:

  1. How to define the trend
  2. Where to place the stop-loss
  3. Let the trade go or take profit at a high Reward: Risk ratio (such as 2-3x your risk)

Then it gets more complicated.

  1. Which timeframe?
  2. Which indicator?
  3. What settings for the indicator?
  4. What is this thing called “drawdown”?

Initially, I think most traders go through the beginner’s luck stage where their first few trend trades work out well.

Then they find they keep getting stopped out, and then give up, and go looking for other magic, holy grails.

The Turtle Traders have finally come out with their full story for a while now, in case you didn’t know. And the Turtle Traders have always been regarded as the de-facto proof that trend trading is the holy grail. The problem is not with the system. The problem lies within ourselves.

And that is why I cannot trade trends. Well, at least unless I can change who I am, and my own personality, my own biases, my own perspective of the market.

Asking me to be a trend trader is like asking an introvert to become an extrovert.

I have had success with trend trading and deep in my heart I always know it is the best, proven, method to trade profitably. So why did I give it up?

I gave up trend trading for a divergence approach for the same reason why you would switch your favourite restaurant to another which is more suitable for you. Perhaps it is nearer your workplace, or home. Perhaps you feel more comfortable there. Even though the quality of food may not be the same, you made the switch, because overall, you have found your new “favourite” and you’re comfortable and happy patronizing the new restaurant. Despite knowing it’s not as good, not as good value for money.

Similarly, I trade divergences and retracements, despite knowing for a fact trend trading reaps (theoretically) much higher rewards per risk over the long term, because I like trading divergences and retracements.

To be honest, while I have tried to compare results between my own trend trading method vs my divergence methods, I just gave up doing it because it was simply awful to test them at the same time. It is probably better if I had a partner to trade one method and I another, and then compare results. Then again, always remember, results tell nothing about the future, but only what happened in the past.

So here’s a short list why I don’t like to trade trends anymore. Please take this as an opinion piece, there will be fans and haters, but here are simply my thoughts on why I don’t like to trade trends:

  1. I don’t like to be stopped out in a whipsaw price movement (which is expected in a trend trading strategy)
  2. I don’t like to let profits run. I like to set profit targets. And trend trading requires you to set high profit targets, or let it run, which can be very infuriating. (Requires the amount of zen as the ocean in my perspective)
  3. Trends are best seen on hindsight, and this is one of my biggest problems with trend trading.  As Elder nicely put it, you can’t trade in the middle of the chart. You are only faced with the “hard right wall” which is where the price is now. And there is no way you can know if the trend will end, whipsaw, fakeout, or be your friend.

And that’s why I don’t like to trade trends. Sure, for every point above, trend traders, breakout trend traders will have their counter points. And that further reinforces my point: The choice lies within yourself.

Happy trading, may you find your edge in your own trading strategy.

 

Going steady vs dating vs hanging out vs friendzones. What’s it got to do with trading?

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just get a room and get it done with

Recently I read a post about Singaporean couples dating yet not taking it seriously.

So apparently dating is supposed to lead to marriage, and if you’re not dating, you can’t get married, and if you’re dating, you need to marry. Well, that’s my interpretation.

It’s about expectations. And a good, ethical coach/trainer with integrity will place managing expectations above all else when people engage their services.

Couples can date, sure, it is like a casual relationship that’s fun, and it’s ok to leave it as that. But if the couple is not honest about expectations, that perhaps one of them is expecting marriage while the other isn’t, then there will be unmet expectations and disappointments.

Similarly, aspiring traders who engage a coach or trainer must be honest with the expectations, and the trainer as well, lest there be disappointments and a breakdown of a coaching relationship.

Both parties will have to lay down expectations and discuss what the relationship’ s goals are. Is it about earning a fast buck? Is it about revealing a trading secret? Or is it about a long term commitment to learning, self discovery, walking a path peppered with failures and getting up, a path of dedication to mindful trading and developing right mindset about trading? 

Similar to the article about dating couples not being serious about considering marriage, there are aspiring traders who want the fun from trading, earn a quick buck from playing the market, while the coach expects otherwise. Sure, an unethical coach can play along and fool around as well. And the relationship will simply be going nowhere and end up likely toxic.

Trading for a living is a job. It is not a dating game with mind games and petty quarrels. It is a commitment to make it work, just like making the leap into marriage, making vows and promises, til death to you part.

Well. Hopefully wirh the right partner i.e.coach/trainer, you won’t die.

Happy trading!

 

 

 

Smart Casual Trading™ approach to Technical Analysis (TA): Divergence

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Image credit: Babypips.com

There are probably as many strategies to trade forex as there are the stars you can count in the sky. Simply because there is none that works, alone, without having the right perspectives, expectations, and risk, emotional, money management finesse, which can only come from practice, failures, and self reflection. To find out more about my thoughts about Indicators and Trading Strategies, check out my Udemy course, and use this coupon to get a great discount as a celebration of the first Udemy course I’ve launched to help aspiring traders learnt the Smart Casual Trading Method™.

In this brief post, I want to share my favourite “strategy”. It isn’t exactly an indicator. There are many divergence indicators, the most popular being the MACD. Rather, “divergence” is an occurrence when price action is divergent, as the name implies, from an oscillator. And yes, there are many oscillators around as well. But the MACD is probaby the “de facto” indicator that aims to identify divergence specifically.

The picture above shows a great illustration of a divergence signal. When prices are appearing to be in a downtrend, for example, lower prices between two candles, but when compared with an oscillator showing an opposite picture coinciding with the two candles: higher highs instead of being in line with the trend. That’s divergence between price action and an oscillator.

I like to use divergence because in my opinion, and preference, it is a clear signal. That does not mean the price WILL reverse or retrace, but it is a CLEAR signal. One that you can recognize at a simple glance. And the degree of divergence is also very clear, and it makes decision making rather easy.

The oscillator illustrated above is the Stochastics. And honestly, I don’t even know how it is calculated. I don’t know what is the best setting. And I don’t search for the perfect settings. But I use MACD and Stochastics with my own personal settings that I am comfortable with, but always bearing in mind, that indicators don’t predict anything, simply because indicators are based on past prices, and at most, at present price action, but never indicate future prices, because in order to calculate the indicator, you need a price. And the future price is not known. That’s the reality and the fact that many traders don’t quite seem to understand. And hence, they keep searching for the poorly named “indicator”, which indicates nothing except what has happened in the past.

But there are problems with using divergences, as with any strategy. Very simple questions need to be asked:

  1. When do I place an entry?
  2. When do I exit a trade?
  3. Where do I place a stop loss?
  4. Is the divergence a strong one?
  5. Is the trend a strong trend?

Yes, there are many questions to be asked, but with the Smart Casual Trading Method™, the focus is to simply trading as much as possible.

To learn more, check out the link about what I describe to be Smart casual trading, and feel free to contact me.

Happy trading!

How to trade the news: understand what is news.

Sumiko Tan is an executive editor of Singapore’s mainstream newspaper the Straits Times. Picture credit: Straits Times July 8th

What is news? These days since Trump has been elected POTUS, there’s been lots of scrutiny on news. “Alternative facts” is endorsed by the White House. “Fake news” is a growing concern even Facebook and Google are thinking of ways of how to sieve out fake news because of the potential damage it causes in light of the explosion of social media.

Thene there’s nonsense news. Like the above. Which is basically a subtle advert to buy a book.

Trading websites like DailyFX, Bloomberg, are becoming more tabloidish than reliable news. And this is no surprise. Because news is a great business. Great business moguls like Rupert Murdoch make billions on selling sensational news.

Selling news is lucrative. Particularly for trading news. If you read through Bloomberg and DailyFX carefully, each article is skilfully engineered to hang a carrot to encourage speculation, feed greed and fear, and the most important point is thid:  news don’t make you money. The market does. A more controversial statement would be that “the market makes the news”. But perhaps we can talk about that over wine for a light hearted debate.

News is important. It gives traders informatiom. But we need to be aware of the many hands news has passed through, editors like Sumiko Tan, who considers it top news that she has a book of her life journey. Add on ingredients to excite and entice, And you’ve got the news you get.
Nobody bothers to read through the boring articles on economic news, or the facts. They want the analysts’ take on it. Shortcuts.  They want trade calls, recommendations. But they forget the fine print. And the fact these writers are paid to write articles. And exciting, ambiguous articles attract attention and stir emotions. And then come the subscriptions for “privileged access”.

By the way. DailyFx was and still is  associated with FXCM. Which was recently involved in a major scandal. It was sold to IG after the major disaster.
So why trade news?

Your choice. But be aware. The news doesn’t really have your interests at heart. Well? At least not anymore. News have more interest in what’s in your pockets.

Disclaimer. I’m not associated with any news maker or brokerages. I don’t want to be anyway. 

Destructive Emotions will Destroy your trading account. Here’s why.

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I absolutely loved the wisdom in this book. Highly recommended, and applicable to trading

I read this book several years ago. It is quite a deep conversation, but also a highly enlightening insight into destructive emotions that cause a cycle of suffering. Seen below

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Hard to read but very good examples of how it can be applied to trading as well

I have a Masters in Guidance and Counselling, and you probably have no idea what does that have to do with trading. I would say, 90%.

Because when trading, with real money, we are so attached to the value of money, it evokes strong, extreme emotions in us. And, sure enough, “over confidence” has been identified as a destructive emotion.

What is the result of destructive emotions? What is the cause? Well, it starts with having irrational beliefs. In the case of trading, most people think trading is all about getting the market right, predicting the right move, and finding the right guru to tell you where the market will go. It is irrational thinking, because the future cannot be known, hence your belief in the Holy Grail will only result in destructive emotions, such as anger, envy, hatred, which will lead to destructive actions and behaviours, such as revenge trading, doubling down too big, moving your stop loss, and changing your mind when you decided to break even, and when when you see profit, and greed takes over, and decide to add to your profit instead, you lose everything, very quickly.

Irrational beliefs, such as thinking trading can grow a $1000 to a $10000 account in one month consistently, gives you over confidence when it happens once, and then to despair when you get your margin call, and you double down to earn it all back, losing even more, and giving up what could potentially, if you had gone through proper coaching and embraced the rational thinking of trading, lose your dreams of being self employed, enjoying great quality of life, being detached from money, and overall attain happiness you never thought possible.

Which comes back again to my take on being a reflective trader. Do you trade with irrational beliefs? Are these beliefs leading to irrational, destructive actions, which feedback to your irrational beliefs, ending up in a never ending cycle of trading suffering?

Something to think about, and definitely not to be scoffed at. Most real traders will agree with me, that they have learnt more from books on trading psychology than from technical trading books. And that has actually sharpened their edge. At least, that has, for me. Perhaps you can try the same. And start, if you haven’t, read about trading psychology more, than about trading strategy.

Happy trading!