Tag Archives: Risk Management

It is NOT your job to win on any particular trade!

 

Before you can consistently win, you're going to have to learn how to lose really well.

That is…

  • Completely accepting losses as a normal part of the game.
  • And containing the damage to pre-accepted limits.

 

This has been one of my favourite themes of the last year or so. Let's go over it one more time.

It really is that important!

Here's an extract from an email discussion I had on Wednesday with another trader in response to a really challenging sequence of price action.

(5) This point may not be a problem for you. You might understand it completely. But in my experience, while the vast majority of "developing" traders say they do understand this, the reality is that very few traders actually do REALLY GET it at a deeper level. Their actions and decisions prove they don't get it. And often when I'm sent an email asking "why didn't this trade win", it's obvious that this is the case – they don't really understand the game.

It is not your job to win on any particular trade.

It is your job to identify opportunity that contains edge. And to take it and manage it well. Some will win. Some will lose.

Our aim is not to profit on any particular trade. But rather to profit over a series of trades.

Feel free to define a "series of trades" based upon whatever number you consider provides a sufficient sample size. For the sake of this email, let's assume it's 20 trades, which is the absolute minimum I'd consider as sufficient.

So we aim to profit over 20 trade groupings. Within each group there will be some winners. There will be some losers. Both are absolutely fine. They're meant to be there.

And in fact, there will likely be strings of losers, from times when either the market environment was not optimal. Or our decision making was suboptimal.

Again, that is completely normal.

So our decision making pre-entry should be in confirming that (a) the trade idea has edge, and (b) regardless of whether it wins or loses, it's a trade that we really want contributing to our 20 trade sample.

And during the trade management stage, at the forefront of our mind is always the thought about whether or not we still want this contributing to our 20 trade sample.

The reason for bringing this up, is because the interaction with S/R that you have provided in your example, is rather messy. We don't know that will be the case until after the fact, when we can view the charts with the benefit of hindsight. But it's not unusual in messy price sequences to end up with two, or maybe even three losses or scratched trades. This is completely normal. And it should be absorbed within the 20 trade sample, with other better sequences providing sufficient profits to overcome them.

This is also why I will typically only limit myself to two attempts at a trade idea. Three at most (if the prior losses are less than 1R each). If after these 2-3 attempts, I've not captured a good entry, then I'm clearly not reading the market well. Stand aside. And wait for the structure to change. If one further entry would have been sufficient to capture the planned move, and it now occurs without me, so be it. It wasn't mine to catch. Let it go and move on to the next.

 This is VERY IMPORTANT. In fact, key to success. ALWAYS be thinking about the larger sample of trades. Is the current trade one you want contributing to the sample? And if it's one of the losers, keep it small so that it can be easily overcome. And if it's one of the winners, work to take as much out of it as you can.

 

There is no need to review the sequence from that email.

Let's instead look at a few trades in the first hour on Tuesday.

Trades in which there is nothing particularly special. They're just normal run-of-the-mill trades.

Some lose. Some win.

It is not your job to win on any particular trade.

It is not your job to win on any particular trade.

It is not your job to win on any particular trade.

It is not your job to win on any particular trade.

It is not your job to win on any particular trade.

Let's look at the two losses…

It is not your job to win on any particular trade.

It is not your job to win on any particular trade.

Here's the plan:

KEEP THE LOSSES SMALL.

CONTAIN THE DAMAGE.

SO THAT IT ONLY TAKES ONE OR TWO SMALL WINNERS TO MORE THAN MAKE UP FOR THEM.

It is not your job to win on any particular trade.

It is not your job to win on any particular trade.

It is not your job to win on any particular trade.

Before you can consistently win, you're going to have to learn how to lose really well.

That is…

  • Completely accepting losses as a normal part of the game.
  • And containing the damage to pre-accepted limits.

 

Stop worrying about profiting on every single trade.

Aim instead to just manage them well.

And seek to profit over a larger SERIES of trades.

Happy trading,

Lance Beggs

 


 

Fighting to Regain Losses

 

I had an interesting email exchange with a trader a couple of weeks ago, who is struggling with occasional massive losses.

email excerpts

email excerpts

I've had the opportunity to speak to a LOT of traders over the last 8 years of writing these articles. You'd be surprised at how common this problem is.

We discussed several options to investigate further, related to money and risk management, strategy, and of course psychology.

What I wanted to share with you all today though, was just one simple concept that might help, should you ever find yourself suffering from a similar problem.

It's just a slight shift in mindset. It may not be easy. It certainly won't be the full solution. But it could well play a part in overcoming the problem.

Here is what is happening right now:

The current plan

I get it.

Losing sucks. We don't want to lose.

And even more than losing, we don't want to admit we were wrong.

So we fight! We double down on our earlier decision, hoping, wishing and praying that the market will turn. Just enough to get us back to breakeven.

There is a problem though.

IT'S NOT WORKING.

You said that yourself!

But it's not working!

Sure, sometimes it will work out just fine, but it's only a matter of time till the market provides another extended drawdown which takes you out of the game.

Your current money and risk management plan provides you with NO EDGE.

And here's a key part of the problem:

Here is part of the reason why...

Let's repeat that for effect!

  • When you FIGHT to get back to breakeven, you're doing so at a time when the market environment is NOT working in your favour.

 

Seriously!

You're fighting against a strong and persistent trend!

I'm not saying don't fight. But if you're going to fight to get back to breakeven, let's see if we can do it a bit smarter. Let's rethink this concept.

Let's break the current plan into three stages.

The current plan (in stages)

What if we planned our fight differently?

A better plan

Use HOPE as the trigger.

Any time you find yourself HOPING that an extra "unplanned" entry might just help you get out at breakeven… EXIT.

Take some time out to clear your mind.

And resume the fight at a time and place when the market movement and price conditions are IN YOUR FAVOUR.

Don't make this game any harder than it needs to be. Fight to regain losses at a time and place of YOUR CHOOSING.

It's the same challenge; taking a drawdown back to breakeven and maybe even positive territory. But you're doing so when the odds are more in your favour.

And even if four out of five times the market would have got you out at breakeven, had you just entered one more time, ignore it. Remind yourself that averaging down has proven to have NO EDGE. Because the fifth time will not only blow out to a huge loss, but will also take away all these previous gains.

If you're going to fight to regain losses… do so at a time and place of YOUR CHOOSING.

Step aside. Clear your mind. And resume the fight at a time and place when the market movement and price conditions are IN YOUR FAVOUR.

It's just a slight shift in mindset. But it can make a really big difference.

Good luck,

Lance Beggs

 

PS. A pro-trader will NEVER EVER let a single trade, or a sequence of trades, take them out of the game. Always, before any other goal, your priority is to survive to trade another day. If your current money management plan involves adding to positions just based out of hope and fear, then your money management plan sucks. Fix it. Or you're unlikely to last long in this business.

 


 

You WILL Have Trade Sequences Where You Are Out Of Sync With The Market

 

Let's examine the opening hour and a half of the emini Dow from Tuesday's session.

As seen in the charts below, the session commenced with a sequence of trades where I was out of sync with the bias of the market. And then another when I was completely in tune with the market.

You WILL have trade sequences where you are out of sync with the market.

So you'd better learn to recognise this ASAP in order to minimise any damage.

Ok, so the sequence where I was out of sync still resulted in a small profit. That's cool. I'm certainly not complaining.

But the fact is that there is potential for significant damage to an account balance if you don't quickly recognise and adapt to this "out of sync" issue. In the past, I'd usually take several losses out of a sequence like this, typically trying to fade the move two or three times before giving up in frustration.

So, there are some lessons to be learnt.

First though… what exactly was going on that resulted in me being out of sync with the bias?

Let's start with the daily and 30 minute charts, in order to get some context.

You WILL have trade sequences where you are out of sync with the market.

You WILL have trade sequences where you are out of sync with the market.

You WILL have trade sequences where you are out of sync with the market.

There is a saying in the trading industry:

  • "Trade what you see, not what you think"

 

What this means is… since I can see the the market is moving higher with a BULLISH bias then I should trade from the LONG direction. It doesn't matter at all what I think the market should be doing. Trade what I see.

And yes, normally that is not a problem. I'm usually ok with dropping my expectations and trading in accordance with the market bias.

But not this day. The feeling was too strong.

And although I was able to enter LONG on two really good signals, I just wasn't able to hold. The trades were scratched for small profits.

So I decided to stand aside and wait for the market to turn.  (Accepting of course that if it just trended higher all day then I'd miss the bulk of the move. No problems. I'm fine with that.)

As a discretionary trader, you WILL have trade sequences in which you're completely out of sync with the market movement. It's a fact!

This internal feeling of unease WILL act as an input to your decision making. And it will influence both entry and trade management decisions.

Your job is to learn to recognise this as quickly as possible. And if you can't shift to the correct bias then take immediate action to mitigate the risk. Otherwise… you may find yourself quickly on the way to your session drawdown limit.

Set a trigger to catch yourself as soon as possible, when you do find yourself fighting the market.

One of our recent articles is perfect for this – http://yourtradingcoach.com/trading-process-and-strategy/two-attempts-then-reassess/

After two poor trades… pause and reassess.

Is your gut feeling about market direction causing you problems? If so, take action to limit the risk.

Possible actions:

  • Reduce position size for all further trades.
  • Limit trade direction to the with-trend direction only, and adopt a passive hands-off trade management style. Set the trade and walk away.
  • Or… best of all… just stand aside and wait for something easier. You don't have to trade every day. There is always more opportunity coming along in future.

 

You should aim to stack the odds as much as possible in your favour. A MASSIVE part of that is having a good read on market bias.

So you'd better learn to recognise this ASAP in order to minimise any damage.

Happy trading,

Lance Beggs

 

PS. To take it to the next level, consider adding this to your post-session routine:

1. Take note of any price sequences which resulted in multiple attempts to trade the market from the wrong side.

2. Review the conditions – market structure, price action and human performance factors – which may have influenced your decision making.

3. Document your findings.

4. Over time, you'll start to identify those conditions which have the potential to put you out of step with the market, allowing you to recognise and adapt more quickly in future.

 

 


 

Two Attempts – Then Reassess

 

I see far too many traders destroy a session through fighting the market. Again and again and again.

Stop fighting the market

You need to break the pattern.

Try implementing this rule:

Two Attempts – Then Reassess!

 

After two attempts at a trade idea, if it hasn't worked, it's clear that something is not right. You're not in sync with the market.

Either:

  • You have misread the situation and you're wrong, or
  • Your timing is out (which still means you're wrong).

 

Break the pattern!

Two Attempts – Then Reassess!

Confirm your position is flat.

Step away from the charts.

Clear your mind.

Then reassess from first principles.

Try also to see the picture from the perspective of someone who might have the opposite bias to you. What are they seeing? Could they be right?

You may choose to get back in for a further trade (assuming session drawdown limits are not hit).

But you may also have prevented a meltdown; stopping a good trade idea which didn't work from turning into an absolute mess of a session.

Here's a recent trade sequence where I implemented this rule – Two Attempts – Then Reassess!

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Your Number One Priority… Survive the Learning Phase!

 

Before you even think about strategy…

Reduce the risk of single trade catastrophic failure.

Stop losses are essential. If you think you can operate without them, leave my site now. Unsubscribe. Professional traders respect the risk within the market.

If your platform does not allow for automatic submission of stop loss orders when your entry order is filled, then get a new platform.

And keep single-trade risk to acceptable levels (see Chapter 8).

 

Reduce the risk of single session catastrophic failure.

Ensure your plan contains a session stop. That is, the dollar or percentage loss that will trigger a decision to HALT ALL TRADING for that day.

If you're out of sync with the market, get out of there.

Survive to trade another day.

And if you do not have the ability to stick to this decision then find a broker who will implement it for you, preventing further trades once the session stop is hit. They're out there. If you need this, find one who offers it.

Swing traders… you might wish to extend this to a weekly stop. Or monthly stop.

 

Reduce the risk of a slow-bleed loss of account over time.

Implement a maximum drawdown stop.

Your trading is clearly not going according to plan.

It's time to stop. Take a lengthy break. And then reassess.

Take this trading halt as an opportunity to review your trading plan and your trading performance, with the benefit of hindsight.

Return to a simulator environment until such time as (a) consistent profitability is again proven in that environment, and (b) the account balance has been replenished via other sources.

 

Always remember – your number one priority is to survive the learning phase.

Happy trading,

Lance Beggs

 


 

Order Entry Error – Immediate Actions & Working an Exit

 

I thought it would be good to expand upon some of the ideas discussed on YTC social media last weekend.

Here are the three social media posts first…

26th March:

Order Entry Error - Immediate Actions - Post 1

27th March:

Order Entry Error - Immediate Actions - Post 2

28th March:

Order Entry Error - Immediate Actions - Post 3

There are two main points that I'd like to examine in a little more detail.

  1. Immediate Actions
  2. Working an Exit

 

Immediate Actions

So let's say you've traded the sequence above, and just recognised the entry error. What are your actions?

The obvious advice is to scratch immediately. It's what most educators will suggest. And often it is good advice. Immediately take responsibility for the error and take your loss.

I won't ever have a problem with someone who does this.

Especially in the following cases:

  • Your trading session is in drawdown and has reached your daily loss limit. You're clearly not in sync with the market today. Take the loss. And get away from the screen for a while.
  • Your mindset is already a mess. You're frustrated! You're angry! Whatever the reason, take the loss. And get away from the screen for a while.

 

For these occurrences, immediately scratching is likely the best option. Take the loss. And review the whole session at a later time (or even the next day) when it can be looked at with an objective and clear mind.

But in all other cases, I think we can improve on this.

Here's the thing… there is often no need to panic.

You will often have sufficient time to make a quick assessment and determine whether or not the position is an immediate threat… or not.

That is… does the current situation have a high probability of rapidly getting worse? Or is it maybe not so bad? Can you maybe even recover the situation?

Let's change the context a little. We'll start with some very simple examples.

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Defining “No-Trade Zones”

 

Let's look one final time at last week's trade sequence.

The problem we attempted to address was one of continual attempts to fade long and extended price swings, finding that instead of timing that entry to perfection we more often than not end up with two to three stop outs, and a mindset destroyed for the remainder of the session.

Check it out if you missed it – http://yourtradingcoach.com/trading-process-and-strategy/let-it-turn-then-find-your-entry/

This was the sequence on the "trading timeframe":

The trading timeframe view

This was the "lower timeframe" view of the challenge we face in trying to time the entry short:

The lower timeframe view - "what we don't do"

This article seems to have resonated with a number of readers, who felt as if it was written personally for them and their circumstances. Here's one example:

Great advice, Lance! As always. I really loved your explanation “Here’s what we don’t do” in the article. It’s so true. It's totally about me in the recent past and so funny to recall. How many times have I found myself trying to get short below every upper-tail candle somewhere in the vicinity of “here’s a support, it goes down now”, only to get stopped out. A daily and weekly review process helps me to get rid of these dumb trades now, but it's really cool to refresh this experience by reading your article.

My reply:

Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it. "Getting rid of dumb trades" is a great plan for driving progress. I still do dumb trades. We all do. But if you can identify over time those dumb ones that you always seem to repeat… they're the ones you can work to get rid of to provide a big boost to your edge.

The solution last week was simple. Stand aside during the long and extended price swing. Wait for the market to turn. Only then should you seek entry.

The solution - let the market turn - then seek entry 

So this led to a different kind of feedback, in which people asked, "how do we know when to stand aside?"

Great question!

Let me answer first based upon this particular sequence; and then we'll wrap it up with some general guidance for when to stand aside.

So… why did I decide to stand aside during this sequence?

It was the strength in the candles as price rallied to the resistance level.

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You’ve GOT to Target Multiple-R Winners

 

Most trades will typically fall in the range from -1R to +1R… hopefully more on the positive side of that range.

But for most of us this does not mean you should be targeting 1:1 trades all day, every day.

By all means take them if you assess them as being a higher probability play. But you'll need to maintain a 70% or more win-rate if you want to achieve any decent long-term profits with ONLY 1:1 trades.

That's a tough ask!

It's far better, in my opinion, to aim to break up that stream of -1R to +1R trades with the occasional large multiple-R profit.

When market structure and price action suggest the potential for a multiple-R trade, target those higher returns.

 

You've got to target multiple-R winners

You've got to target multiple-R winners

You've got to target multiple-R winners

 

So the obvious question is, "When should we be more patient with a trade and hold it for a larger runner?"

There is a recent amendment to my pre-session routine which can help answer this question.

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Professionals Traded Here! What Were They Seeing That You Couldn’t See?

 

We've talked in previous articles about the fact that the best opportunity is found close to the edges of the market structure.

Or another way to express the idea… "Confirmation is risk!"

Typically when posting these sort of articles I get a comment or two of the following type:

But again, let me come back to the comment provided in last week's article, "Confirmation is Risk! (Part 2)"

"Why shouldn't we try to pick tops and bottoms? That's where the risk is smallest and the profit potential is greatest."

Standard TA won't make you money! You can't just do what everyone else is doing. You need to be smarter than the crowd.

You have two choices.

1. Look at a chart at a point of reversal and say with stubbornness:

  • "It's not possible to enter there."

2. Or look at the same chart with curiosity and say:

  • "Professionals traded here. They didn't wait for confirmation. So what did they see that I was missing?"

Curiosity and it's associated growth mindset will get you a lot further in this game than stubbornness and a fixed mindset.

Let's look at a few examples, from different markets and timeframes as those offered in the earlier articles.

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Confirmation is Risk! (Part 2)

 

I don't recall who said this… and I'm paraphrasing… but I absolutely loved it when I heard it and it's stuck with me ever since.

"Why shouldn't we try to pick tops and bottoms? That's where the risk is smallest and the profit potential is greatest."

(If you recognise the actual quote can you please provide me with a source so that I can provide appropriate credit! Maybe Sam Seiden… it sounds like something he'd say!)

So yes… I try to pick tops and bottoms.

And that freaks some people out. I know… they send me emails. And they're not always nice!

But the fact remains… the tops and bottoms are definitely where the risk is smallest and the profit potential is greatest. Someone is trading in those areas, selling at the tops and buying at the bottoms. If it's not the retail trader, who typically waits for confirmation, then perhaps it's the professional. Maybe you should be ask yourself how you can see what they're seeing?

Last week we re-explored the concept of confirmation being risk. Real opportunity is found as close to the edges of the market structure as you can get. Where the risk is smallest and the profit potential is greatest.

Is it easy? No. It requires greater skill at reading the sentiment within the price movement.

But is it worth exploring as a means to improving your edge? Absolutely!

This was the trade we examined last week:

Confirmation is Risk

See the prior article here if you missed it: http://yourtradingcoach.com/trading-process-and-strategy/confirmation-is-risk/

As mentioned at the end of that article, this session went on to provide some further, very similar, opportunity. So let's explore them today.

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