I was quite shocked when timsk asked me to contribute a Member Profile, considering that I am at the opposite end of the experience spectrum from the other members whose profiles I’ve seen published so far. However, I understand that there are probably quite a few active or not so active members that are in similar circumstances to me. So, veteran members get ready to shake your heads at my mistakes and fellow newbies, nod along with sympathy.
I grew up in Melbourne, Australia. After dropping out of university at the end of my first year of a marketing course, I took some time off to work and travel. It was during my time in the Greek islands that I met a very beautiful Italian girl – but we’ll get to that later. After a few years of drifting aimlessly, I finally found the motivation to go back and study for a business degree which I finished at night while working full time; first in freight forwarding, then in physical commodity trading for a Japanese trading house. This experience had nothing to do with trading as T2W natives know it – I was just a small cog in a big machine, pushing paperwork for raw materials to arrive from mills in Japan to customers in Australia. 95% of the business was conducted within the same keiretsu. I still fondly remember the welcome orientation from a Japanese manager who explained the difference between evil Korean chaebol (as he drew a triangle between a trading company, a bank and an insurance company) and prosperous Japanese keiretsu (as he drew a circle between a trading company, a bank and an insurance company).
The job was fine but the Italian girl was much more alluring and, as a result, I now find myself living in Milan. It was very difficult and frustrating at times learning Italian and, having arrived here on 15th September 2008 (the DOW dropped 504 points the next day), the global financial crisis was heating up and getting a job was not easy. So, for the first two years I taught English whilst learning Italian. Now my Italian is good enough that I am working in sales, and being an Australian in Italy certainly makes it easy to break the ice with new clients.
Although having a steady paycheck is nice, I find corporate life and working for multinationals quite soul destroying: I yearn for something better than my 4×4 cubicle. Perhaps I just haven’t found the right job yet, or perhaps I am a problem employee. Either way, I feel like a square peg in a round hole.
Trading – the early years
I have always had an interest in economics and money, and when I finally returned to gainful employment after teaching english, I studied value investing in depth. This was good, but I felt the returns could have been greater, and as a result I started to consider CFDs as a way to use leverage so that I could really lose make some money. I love studying, and here a whole new world opened up to me although, admittedly, I should have studied more before putting money into a live account.
With great speed I jumped from one strategy to another, a quick succession of wins proved that this strategy was the winning strategy – until it wasn’t. Moving averages, bollinger bands, wave cycles, MACD, fibs, gaps, binaries and reading tea leaves . . .
At this point the line between trading and gambling was blurred, and even some of my impulses made me wonder if I had some sort of addiction. My fellow colleagues probably wondered why at times I stared at my phone with a maniacal intensity. Luckily for me things never really got out of hand, as I always used stop losses and minimal positions sizes.
More than once I have considered throwing in the towel, as it was like trading was this huge puzzle that I just couldn’t solve. This was very very frustrating as I have never really come across something at work or in my personal life that I couldn’t learn or figure out if I put in the effort.
I took a small step back, closed one of my trading accounts, and starting to learn about aspects of trading that were not related to a strategy or technical analysis. I read books and watched movies and documentaries about poker, cognitive behavioural therapy, risk, probability, stress and gambling addiction. The immediate result is that I feel much more balanced, and what I have learnt over the last few months has also helped me in dealing with complicated situations at work (difficult clients or annoying co-workers).
Trading for me now is very much about planning and psychology.
Everyday I am up at 6am, and love having a strong black coffee from the moka while I go over charts and check out what is coming up in economic news. I check the major indices, gold and major forex pairs to see if they are in any ‘areas of interest’ for me. I keep a trading journal where I make notes at the beginning and end of each day, regardless of whether I put a trade on or not.
I spend much more time researching and planning than actually trading, and this results in me feeling relaxed when I do have a trade on, as I feel that having done my homework and considered the possible outcomes, I have a plan and already know where I am going to be getting out of a trade for better or worse.
While I do have a stock widget on my desktop at work to follow prices, I may not always be at my desk. As a result the lowest time frame that I have found I can use is the 4 hour chart. I think that if you are working full time, you may be able to trade lower than that only if you can have a browser based charting program up on a second screen while you ‘work’.
For the immediate future I will just keep on doing what I have been doing, with the goal to becoming consistently profitable. In the long run I would love to be able to make this my main stream of income, but I know that there is still a lot that I need to accomplish before that can happen.
An area that I would like to work on in the immediate future is what I would call ‘trade autopsy’: going back over the last 5 trades in detail to make note of what I did right or wrong and how I can use that experience to improve in the future.
Tips to pass on
One concept in particular really struck a chord with me: the aim is not to trade, the aim is to make money. I know it sounds ridiculously obvious, but the next time that you are flipping from long to short and back again trying to find a trend in a range bound market, or getting stopped out three times in a row on fake out break outs, think about it! There is always the proverbial ‘tomorrow’.
Finally . . .
I would like to thank all the more experienced traders that have given me the time of day, and some even more than that. While at times the forum can degrade into mudslinging pissing contests (yes, that is a real thing), it is great that there is also support and help available from people who have ‘been there done that’.