Keeping your Trading Expectations real!
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In this video we look at psychology, expectation, and the disciplines required to follow a trading strategy.
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Over the years I have become extremely frustrated by the young trading gurus who claim to make fortunes from their strategies, often showing only a selection of their best trades. Enticing new and often naïve traders into a business that can be very harsh for the uninformed.
Its rare for any of these traders to discuss risk and reward, losing runs, market cycles or the many potential pitfalls of a strategy, instead focusing on the lucrative side only.
Fortunately, I have been in the industry for over 30 years and to say I’m unimpressed is an understatement.
Let’s bring some reality back, look at my results, and see what a trading account could look like in the real world.
What if I told you a strategy produced these results, winning only ten of fifty trades, would you swiftly move on?
What if I told you the same strategy, produced another similar losing run sometime later?
Most would quickly reject the system, in search of a system with a 95% or more win rate.
How about a strategy with this equity curve?
As humans, we are often influenced on first impressions, or perhaps by the way we are presented with information.
What if I told you each of the charts shown are in fact the same strategy, but from a different perspective.
The reality is that a solid strategy such as this will encounter periods of drawdown, or an increased frequency of losing trades. This is the side of trading many so called gurus fail to point out, leading to false expectations, and a trader becoming psychologically burdened.
Many of the world’s most successful traders have win rates of around 40%, sometimes less, meaning only 4 of their 10 trades will be successful. The key lies within the risk and reward ratio, ensuring the losses on the losing trades are far less than the profits from the winning trades. It is a concept I keep emphasis on throughout our videos.
The strategy results shown here are my personal results and were reflected in the equity curve we presented earlier.
The purpose of this slide is to demonstrate that despite these favourable metrics, we are still exposed to those periods of prolonged losses.
The win loss ratio is approximately 4 to 1, with a win rate of over 56%. These results in isolation would suggest a strategy with a continual upward projection. The reality, however, is that even a system such as this will encounter a sequence of losses. How the trader can manage these underperforming periods, is often the main factor in determining their success.
Let’s take a look at this prolonged sequence of losses which coincided with the COVID19 crash, and saw the worlds markets drop by 35%.
Of the 50 trades we placed, only 10 trades were successful, for the sum of $7500.
The 40 trades which failed had an average loss of 7.9% and equated to $26,000.
Therefore, this period of almost 5-months gave a net return of minus $18,500.
There are not many traders who would have had the discipline, confidence, or patience to follow their strategy throughout this period. But unfortunately, this is a typical reality that most traders will likely endure, despite what the new breed of trader may tell you.
Its not however all bad news, for those disciplined enough to follow their strategy through periods of drawdown, there can be significant reward.
Following the $18500 loss due to covid, the strategy returned to its typical performance, returning over $100,000 in the following 59 trades. A prime example of being disciplined through thick and thin.
It’s important to have a good understanding of random probabilities when it comes to trading.
You may have a statistical edge built into your strategy, which likely means that your long-term profitability is high. However, in a shorter period, randomness can be visible in your results.
With all statistics and probabilities, the larger the sample size, the more accurate your results will be, or in trading terms, the more likely it is that your edge will materialise.
Many of you will be aware of the emotional cycle traders typically endure, from enthusiasm, greed, claims of a new paradigm, denial, fear, and an eventual return to the mean average.
In general, these are unnecessary emotions, emotions which can be avoided if you truly know your edge and have realistic expectations from the beginning. There is nothing wrong with a little optimism, but it needs to be balanced with some realism too.
Expecting to make millions in the first few months from a couple of thousand dollars is simply not realistic. And when the inevitable period of drawdown arrives, your emotions will be heightened as a result.
If you understand that you can’t control the market, but you can control your expectations, you will be far more able to make rational decisions. A rational frame of mind allows us to focus on the process and not the outcome.
I recommend a previous video called Trading In The Zone, this will give further knowledge on trading expectation and psychology.
Another false association made by new traders is that losses are a result of doing something wrong, the reality however, is that you can only quantify being wrong by either following or not following your strategy, not by the outcome of the trade.
Losing trades can fall equally into either camp, but the only trades which should give cause for concern, are the ones which failed to meet your strategy criteria.
Measure the process, not the outcome.
Remember, the market is not always rational, and it can make the best trades losing trades. But sooner or later (assuming you have a proven edge) your losses will either be outnumbered, or outsized.
You may have heard the term cognitive bias, this often relates to a personal belief or idea embedded in the thought process, and is often hard to change.
A cognitive bias could be born through a news article. A Bitcoin publication. A high-profile Twitter trader. Or a self-proclaimed guru.
The only cognitive bias you should really embrace, is that anything can happen.
A traders reasoning is often impaired through such cognitive influence (or bias) and can often lead to Irrational exuberance. A typical example of such exuberance was the 1990’s dot com bubble.
The irrational behaviour of over optimistic investors, drove asset prices beyond any fundamental justification, predominantly fed by greed and the fear of missing out, both prime examples of psychological behaviours traders must avoid.
It is so easy to get caught up in the hype of an increasing asset, but the key is to be the one that stays calm, stays rational, and has objective reasoning for entering and exiting a trade, all the other noise is meaningless.
Key takeaways from the video…
Have realistic expectations.
Know that periods of underperformance will happen.
You cannot control the market, but you can control your emotions.
Measure your performance based on the process and not the outcome.
Be acutely aware of any outside influence, and know that anything is possible.
Separate yourself from the herd and the hype.
I really hope you found value, if you did, please hit the like button, subscribe and perhaps take a look at my personal strategy, although I can’t guarantee millions by next month….
Your thoughts below would be appreciated!