Tribute to Chester Bennington

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the frontman of Linkin Park, whom many of us in my generation grew up with

I woke up to he news of Mr Chester having passed away due to suicide.

Linkin Park’s music, fronted by Chester with his distinctive style and expressions through his screams and yet fluid vocals, gave solace to many who can relate to the songs the band wrote.

I am one of those who found solace in their music during the worst times of my life. It may sound crazy, but it is known as a fact that when feeling low, listening to music that express your feelings can be therapeutic, instead of you expressing it yourself through self-hurt.

Suicide is not something to be taken lightly and the irrationality of it is well understood by those who are lucky, privileged, perhaps, to have never experienced going through depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses that create thought loops that lead to one conclusion, as one of their song titles aptly put: In the End  (it doesn’t even matter)

I won’t be adding contrived statements on how this is related to trading. I have already discussed about mental issues affecting trading in a previous post.

Dedicated to those who are pushed to the edge. There is always the choice to be made. TO jump, or to step back, and pick yourself up again. Fail, pick yourself up, and carry on away from the edge towards infinite possibilities that you never knew were there.

Dreams are meant for you to happen. Ending it all ends everything, including your chance at making dreams come true.

Trade Smart, Trade Casual, and seek help if you find you’re pushed to the edge.

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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. 

June 2017 Monthly Reflection: Lessons Learnt

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Previously I blogged about the importance of reflection in trading. And I  do that alot. I do it weekly, and monthly, and during drawdowns, perhaps every 3 months, but I try to reflect as much as possible. Simply because it is the best way to learn.

June has been a good month so far. And I’m not just talking about the numbers. I’m talking about the lessons.

As a reflective trader, I’m always looking for ways to improve the process. And to try new things. Because there is no such thing as “the only way to trade”. Why do you think prices move? It’s because people are trading thousands of ways giving them thousands of signals on different timeframes. The only one way to trade, is your way.

So coming back to June. I experimented with several things with my trading. One is adding trailing stops once the move has gone about half in my favour, and another is to place breakeven orders when the price is about halfway towards my target price.

I’ve always been experimenting with these two, and through reflection, and looking back at my records, I don’t see clear advantages, for my strategy.

So I started to highlight when these stops actually “save” me, or make me “lose money”.

The other thing I experimenting with is taking profit early, based on current price action, and oscillators, and day of the week. For example, if it is close to the end of the week and my profit hasn’t been hit, I take profit. Another example, is when the profit amount is very attractive, and I say, “why not, just take lah”, and I close the trade.

The other thing I added to June, late June, is actually increasing my risk, to test and push my stomach for drawdown.

So here are my reflections, and findings, specific for my trading style. Just to share with you the outcome of reflective learning. These are specific to my trading style, so please, don’t take these lessons as yours. I’m just sharing you my own reflections, as examples.

  • Break even and trailing stops very seldom “save” me. They make me lose money instead, because of whipsaws hitting those stops, before eventually hitting my target.
  • Taking profit, ironically, makes me lose money. As I shared before, it’s important to have a right perspective. And to get the right perspective, you need to reflect, to discover it. While taking profit early puts money in the pocket, I actually lost money because the trade eventually hit my targets. That’s the right perspective to take. I lost money by taking profit. And this is harsh, because I know, losing money slows down the compounding rate, for every week that passes.
  • Increasing my positions size from 1% to 2% is starting to eat into me and push me to the edge. So now I know I am still not ready for a 2% position sizing, and perhaps, next month, I will try something like 1.5%, or less. Because I know that to speed up compounding, I also need to try to push up the position sizing, to gain a greater percentage growth per month.

 

So you see, hopefully, why reflecting, and keeping records, and making it a habit and having the mentality that trading is a job, is very critical to trading successfully. I have met several interested persons in what I do, and I am very happy to hear them tell me “I’ve never thought of trading in this way before.”

Give reflection a try. Keep good records. And reflect on why you took those trades, how they went, and what were some lessons learnt. And keep them. And go back to them once in a while, and reflect if you have made progress. Focus on process more than the results. The results come from process, not the other way round.

Happy trading!

 

Call to Action: NOW OR NEVER

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Humans are creatures of habit. And it gives us predictability. Safety. Security. Work is routine. We all have our own routines.

And when you’re working, a 9-5 job, for the sake of income, you will be in a routine for a long, long, long time. Because you are an asset to your boss/company. And they want the rats to continue running for as long as they can.

The carrots that you are chasing surely put food on the table. But where do you put the excess carrots? Spend or save? Neither. You need to learn how to grow those carrots, instead of waiting for the bonus and promotion that is already calculated into what you are worth, and what you are given will ALWAYS be below your true worth, in order for the boss/company to be profitable. As long as you are running on the wheel, chasing the carrots.

And I’m not referring carrots as money. Staff benefits don’t add to your bank account. But they make you stay running. For the same amount of salary.

Again: You will never, be paid your true worth. It is simply unsustainable for any company to pay their assets their their true worth. Especially if you are at the bottom of the becking call.

This is a call to action to start NOW. And this shows it very clearly why:

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And much more clearly put here:

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Another picture I love to illustrate compounding is this:

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Time and tide waits for no man. And the magic of compounding reveals itself only at the final few years of a long term commitment to reinvesting, no matter how small the interest rate is. But it must exceed inflation.

Leaving $500,000 in the bank does not make you rich. It makes you poorer and poorer, especially in the current low interest rate environment, as inflation is, while still low, is picking up. How does that 0.05% interest rate in savings sound to you compared to a 2% inflation rate?

You’re losing value in your $500,000.

WAKE UP NOW.

I’ve been there, in the routine, stuck in the routine, tricked to believe I can retire comfortably with my salary and savings, but in the future, your dreams of retirement simply get delayed and delayed. the CPF drawdown age will increase. And you will find your savings have lost so much of its value, it’s utterly too late.

Unfortunately we still live in a society stuck in the routine 20 years of study + 40 years of working until 60 and finding ourselves poor without knowing it.

So the call to action is NOW.

  1. Start early. Start NOW
  2. Learn how to invest or grow your own money. Not buy into sales pitches that puts money into others’ pockets. Grow your own carrots, for yourself.
  3. Be in it for the long term, because the 8th wonder of the world as some call it, compounding, reveals itself only towards the end.

So instead of realizing you’re 60 and still not enjoying as much as you thought you would, you would be at 60 wondering how on earth did you get so many carrots you don’t know what to do with them.

You can start by learning. Find the time to learn about simple investing in stocks. That’s how I started. Even simple investing a small amount every month into a ETF for 40 years will reveal the magic when you’re 60. If you’re lucky, and able to generate 10% yearly of compounding, you are going to DOUBLE your $500,000 into a cool $1mil in 7 years.

It doesn’t matter if you have $100, $200, $1000, or $10,000. Let the power of compounding do its own magic. But you must follow the 3 rules:

  • Start early. Start NOW
  • Learn how to invest or grow your own money. Not buy into sales pitches that puts money into others’ pockets. Grow your carrots, for yourself.
  • Be in it for the long term, because the 8th wonder of the world as some call it, compounding, reveals itself only towards the end.

It’s your choice. It’s your excuses to make. Remember. You only have 1 life. And time does not turn backwards.

Smart Casual Trading is only one way.  Running your own business is another. Investing early, regularly in a long term portfolio with a decent interest rate is another. Trading equities is another. Investing in property is another.

The most important thing is to take the action, slow down your running, start saying “no” to your boss, invest time to learn, and take the action NOW.

You can take action by checking out my facebook page, where I have put up a course with a fantastic discount to get you started on starting a forex business.

Get up and get going!

 

Trade like the Pros? Are you sure you want to do that? A lesson from Din Tai Fung vs Ju Hao

 

So yesterday me and my family tried out a new eatery called Ju Hao, which is a subbrand from MOF which has mostly japanese themed restaurants. From the first look you know, it’s trying to copy world famous, bar-none, Din Tai Fung. The menus have almost the exact dishes, the dishes look exactly the same, the variety is only an inch different.

But the price is much more competitive. 6 dumplings for $6. Nuff said. The only bummer was that they don’t give free water.

Now I was thinking, what on earth was MOF thinking. They are known more for their japanese fare,  except for LENAS, and are, I think fairly successful. Why on earth, do you want to challenge the pros? It sounds like business suicide.

But week after week, I find that there are Qs to eat at Ju Hao. People like that place! Could it be that they just want to “compare” and see? Or do they really like to eat there? Don’t they feel eating at a copy cat (some may even feel it’s bad business etiquette to be so blatant about it) is surely going to disappoint?

I must admit the food is not close to compete with Din Tai Fung, the big boys, but hey, they have this underdog vibe, that seem to say “hey, we know what we’re doing, we’re not trying to be like them. We are trying to be like ourselves.”

And I think that’s a great business approach. Leverage on the edge, which in this case is to use wise business tactics to copy without overspending, but giving sufficient satisfaction at a price that is value for money.

A poor man’s Din Tai Fung, perhaps, designed to cater to the everyday person, instead of the big boy’s clearly “atas” look and feel. Ju Hao has a homely vibe.

So it’s same same but different. But when I come to think about it, it’s exactly like Smart Casual Trading.

It’s daring, no doubt, to bet on this venture, but it’s smartly engineered, from the food, layout, staffing, and interior design, to be more welcoming than premium Din Tai Fung. I’m sure Din Tai Fung still remains much more popular and profitable, but Ju Hao has an edge in being more Casual, which has always been the underlying theme for MOF food branches. Casual, value for money, and reasonable food.

It may not be as successfull as Din Tai Fung but clearly it’s not trying to beat it nor copy it: It’s actually being smart about it, to sort of, leverage on Din Tai Fung’s popularity, to cleverly design it’s own version, that is same same, but different.

I respect MOF for doing it. Din Tai Fung won’t be happy, for sure, specially if more stores of Ju Hao pop up in the heartlands to cater to the average people as the brand is not positioned to be premier.

So the same with trading. Many people believe if you want to succeed like the big boys, you have to train yourself to be like them. What do you think are your chances, as an average person whose training has nothing to do with economics, trading, markets, of beating them at their own game? No. Play to your advantage. Play your own game.

Every game has its ways of winning. Some strategy, some way of optimizing your advantages. Focus on your own game. That will be your edge. If you feel that being the first to know about news is critical, think about how the pros are also thinking the same thing, and the edge they have against you. If you think that being the first to know the results is critical, think about the trained analysts grouped up looking at the same screen, with their plans all  penned out and calculated in their head. Do you have such an edge against them?

Being an underdog trader is absolutely the smart thing to do. You just need to find your edge against the pros, just like how Ju Hao seems to have nailed it.

Contact me if you wish to learn more about how I trade Smart, Casual, and like an underdog.

 

 

The best trades are often the ones you didn’t make: Smart, Casual Trading

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My last trade made was on Wednesday, two days ago, a long GBPJPY position that I took profit early as it was a little out of my trading rules.

It’s been a very quiet Thursday and Friday, my favorite days of the week to trade. But checking against the event calendar, there doesn’t seem to be much excitement to be expected.

There will always be a temptation to trade, to do something, to adopt a different method so that you have some excuse to trade. Change your rules just this once.  Just take a gamble.

Well this is the discipline you need to build to trade the Smart Casual Method. If there are no trades, then don’t trade. Don’t go trade hunting. Sure, I’m not saying you can’t try, but I’m saying that usually doesn’t end up well. If your trading method has been working all this time, don’t just trade for the sake of trading, because you’ll be trading out of greed, and emotion.

So I’m feeling the itch right now. To take a bet. To go to a lower time frame to find more action. But I won’t.

As they say, Plan your trade, then trade your plan. And jumping into trades just because I’m bored and greedy makes a great trader not.

Time for some relaxation, until the next 4 hours later.

Happy trading!

Trade Smart. Trade Casual.

Contact me if you wish to know more.

 

What is trading forex for a living? Should I trade for side or full income? The Smart Casual Method can be used for both.

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The dream most people think about trading for a living is that you literally make money from anywhere, using some secret formula, and getting your trades right all the time. A quick rich scheme, where you money makes money, and you are free.

In the first sentence of Elder’s Trading for a Living I remember quite clearly he said something about it being possible, to be trading for a living, defining it to mean you live off your trading profits. Meaning, you trade, you profit, you make money, and never have to work again.

To an extent, yes. That is what I am doing. My main income comes from trading. I make a range of 3-16k per month, with some months in a loss, but not too great a loss that I am overall in a loss. Overall, I have made enough profit, that if I withdraw my profits on a monthly basis, I can live comfortably. I’m not a millionaire, because I’m focused on small steps, small risks, and compounding for the long term. I don’t risk all my margin in a single trade. I trade like I am running a business. I pay myself a salary when I need to, but my focus is on growing the business, to compound the profits over a long term.

I guess some, if not most, people think trading for a living think its about making $500 a day using a secret formula with no risk, and the $500 a day goes into the pocket everyday. I’m sorry, please don’t fall for those cons. While it is possible, ask yourself: Why would someone want to spend advertising money on such a thing to attract your attention? I am trading for a living, but I’ve not put in much advertising money into selling the idea of trading for a living because I know the truth. I can easily con people. I have the results. And I can sell snakes oil to vulnerable, desperate people. Thankfully, I am not one of those type of people.

I was asked an interesting question by a potential client yesterday: “What’s in it for you?” I interpreted as “What’s the catch?” Because what I am offering is as good as free. Yes I do charge fees for certain services for my time, but those are truly nominal and I’m happy to negotiate if I can get something from you in return. Check out my Facebook page and tell me what you think of my services and prices.

Well the fact is, my main source of income still comes from trading. I do have side income from lecturing part time which I love for the lecturing and nurturing of students, I’m not doing it solely for the money, and this Smart Casual Trading coaching project, well, is perhaps, potentially another source of side income for me.

But I do have a main goal with all this. I am passionate about my brand. I am passionate about coaching. I am passionate about being the “go-to” guy for honest, authentic, coaching. I’m sure there are others out there. But I sincerely want to help, because I myself struggled in my own journey. And I came up with this as a side project, and so far, it’s been empowering, and enlightening for myself.


So coming back to trading for a living or for a side income. The answer, unfortunately, lies in a simple fact: How much capital do you have? Remember, I run my trading as a business. And as with all businesses, you need capital. Small businesses with small capital cannot expect to make big bucks overnight, but little by little, growing your brand, gaining market share, that’s when the money rolls in, as you reinvest your profits back into your business. I am able to trade and make sufficient money to live off them because I have substantial capital. It’s as simple as that.

As for side income, the answer is simple. How much capital do you have to trade? If , again, it’s not much, then keep your job, and treat forex trading as a source of side income to grow your capital. Take it as an investment. Take it as putting aside a sum of your salary into this side income, and grow it slowly. With the power of compounding, you eventually, as I have, may reach a point where your trading income exceeds your salary. Then you can ask yourself, what do you want to do.

The problem with side income is that most people with full time jobs will hardly have the time and energy to start from scratch. And that’s why I’m here. And that’s why I believe Smart Casual Trading is the best “dresscode” to trade. It doesn’t’ require much time, effort to execute, but it does take time to learn to build up knowledge, skill, and discipline, all of which are within your own hands.

I have clients who are willing to jump  into the unknown going full time. I have clients who just want something to spend time on and make lunch money. if they can. I have clients who are just looking for side income. I have clients who have little, but wish to be independant.

The Smart Casual Trading Method is for the everyday person. I designed it so. Because money is not the true value behind the method. The true value is in freedom and self-empowerment.

As the saying goes:  “Price is what you pay, Value is what you get”

Happy Trading!