A Forex View From Afar

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Trading Is About Managing Risk, Not Positive Trades

Written by A Forex View From Afar on Wednesday, June 10, 2009

One of the biggest issues a trader has to learn even from the first days of trading, but usually only after multiple blown accounts, is how to manage risk

Many traders just focus on the reward, and do not concentrate enough on the risks that go hand-in-hand. One issue many traders seem to pass by is that risk and reward are directly proportional, meaning that as one increases, the other does too. Moreover, the relationship between risk and reward has more of a fat tail behavior; the link between risk and reward decreases at high levels.

A forex trader should avoid taking trades with an associated risk bigger than 2% of their trade account, it will take more than 5 years of experience to find a rare opportunity that sets once in every while that risking more has proven to be previously advantageous. From personal experience, new traders should focus on small risk-trades, ranging from 0.5%-1.0% of the available account balance.

Even though these particular trades would not produce the same financial reward, they will keep a new trader in the game for longer, and will build a solid knowledge base that a career can be built upon. With some retail brokers offering now micro and mini lots (1K and 10K trade lot size) that cost a few dollars, and sometimes pennies to put on, a new trader does not need an account stacked with thousands of dollars just to learn to trade and manage risk.

A trade has two possible outcomes – either you win or loose. As such, in a control environment, a trader has a 50% chance to lose the next trade. Chances for 2 consecutive trades with the same outcome (win or lose) are 25%, while chances for three consecutive traders with the same outcome reach 12.5%. Even though the percentage is relatively small, new traders chase the game defying logic, and defying money management in the fear of loss gamble that comes with poor money management.

A good trader should psychologically prepare for such events during the intra-day set-ups. Too much risk can kill an account very quickly, especially for new traders who tend not to control their emotions too well, if at all. If someone is looking for risk-free trades in the financial markets, he or she should better look at a savings account, but with that being said, the other extreme is taking risk that is not at all justified.

Start with the stop area, and note the pip loss potential, 40 pips for example. Each pip costs $1 of a mini lot trade when trading Usd based pairs. On a $5000 account balance a 2% risk equals $100; with a 40 pip Stop the risk is 2.5 mini lots per trade. With 2% being the absolute maximum exposure at any one time, it also means that no new trades can go on until the original position has hit profit and the Stop moved to break-even.

Overleveraged trading is thrilling to some, while the idea of a casino type Lotto win is all consuming to others. Forex however, is a business; leave the gambling to the Thursday night card school, get a Plan, and get serious about managing risk because without it the game soon ends.

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Fundies and Trading
There is a constant question from some traders as to why anybody would ever need to consider the ‘F’ word when trading. Fundamentals: what is so damaging at looking at both Technical charts and having a Fundamental filter to gauge how many Lots to put on? Why is it that accepting that Technicals give us price points to trade, but Fundamentals determine the direction that we travel is so difficult for some traders to accept? Without a Fundamental Filter very few pure Technical traders would have seen this Dollar move coming today.

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