Getting Started

10 New Trader Pitfalls You Can Avoid

What are the major pitfalls that every new trader faces? And how can you avoid them?

So you want to trade, eh? Or have you already started? What drew you to it? Was it the huge profit potential? Maybe it was the excitement. Or perhaps you love the challenge of solving a big, multi-dimensional puzzle.

Trading can be rewarding. You can make lots of money. You can have tons of fun. You can have something to brag about to your friends. Unfortunately, trading can also just as easily lead to financial distress and high blood pressure if you don’t go about it the right way.

Whatever the case, there’s certainly a number of things that make trading the financial markets worthwhile. At the same time, however, there are some huge obstacles along the path to profits and success. This article discusses ten ways to avoid trouble in the markets. They will help protect your capital and increase your chances of success. Ready? Let’s jump right in!

No1: Avoid Errors in Order Entry!
The quickest way to lose money in the markets is to make mistakes when you place your orders. Fortunately, this is something very easy to fix. PAY ATTENTION! It’s as simple as that. Every trade entry system you could use has some kind of order confirmation mechanism. Take the extra two seconds and check to make sure everything is correct. I can assure you this will save you money.

No2: Use Only Risk Capital!
New traders often get so caught up in the excitement and anticipation of trading that they let common sense go on holiday and trade with money they have no business putting at risk. Any money you put in to the markets must be risk capital, money you can afford to lose and not impact your basic financial situation. It’s hard enough to be successful as a fledgling trader. You do not want the added pressure of having to make money and/or not being able to afford losing it.

No3: Start With Enough Capital!
It takes money to make money. You’ve heard that often enough. Accounts that are too small can be a major hindrance to trading success. They suffer from transactions costs that are proportionally higher than is the case for larger accounts, which hinders returns. They also restrict the number of positions you can have at one time, which means you cannot always take good trades that come along and you may not be able to diversify as you should.

No4: Trade Small!
When in doubt, put less money at risk. There is no more swift way to lose huge chunks of money than to trade too big. Your trading size should be determined by your account size based on the risk being taken. If you are risking an amount of your account that potentially puts your long-term ability to keep trading in question, your position is too big. If this means you cannot trade certain instruments, find something else.

No5: Avoid Trading Too Often!
Trading can be fun, exciting, and profitable. It is also an intermittent reward system, like gambling. That means it’s easy to get hooked and in a dangerous cycle. The feeling you have after a winning trade will make you want to do it again. This can lead to sloppy trading. Some traders do not make any additional trades the same day as they close out a position. That helps get some time and space to ensure good decision-making based on their system, not their emotions. Do whatever you must to ensure you always trade in control.

No6: Have a System!
You will not be a successful trader if you do not have a system. They come in all different shapes and styles, but there are a couple of common elements. A system has both entry and exit determinants. A system can also be described. If you cannot verbalize your system, it’s not a system. If you don’t have rules for both entry and exit, it is not a system.

No7: Take the Time to Learn!
Many, many dollars can be saved by new traders if they take the time to learn and practice. There are so many resources so readily available today that there is no excuse for not entering the markets prepared to do battle. Demo accounts can be found for all major markets. That means you can practice your order execution, and you can paper trade your system to confirm its viability before putting a single dollar at risk. To do otherwise is foolish.

No8: Trade in the Right Time Frame!
You have a life beyond trading. May be you have a job or go to school. You have family and social commitments. All of these things combine to determine the timeframe you can use. It does not make sense, for example, to try day trading when you cannot not monitor the markets almost continuously. In my own trading, there are times when I can day trade or swing trade (1-3 day position durations), but there are others when I know I won’t be able to dedicate as much time to the markets and therefore have to take longer-term positions. You must find a trading time frame that fits your lifestyle.

No9: Trade the Right Market(s)!
What often happens with new traders is that they get in to trading because of some experience they had which introduced them to the thrill of the game. That experience probably also got them in to a certain specific market, like stocks or foreign exchange. An emotional attachment is established. Needless to say, this isn’t the best way to pick the market you should be trading. The various markets have different trading profiles. Some are more volatile than others. Some are good for trading intraday, while others are better for longer-term action. The process of deciding to begin trading should include a hard look at what market you should trade based on your account size, trading time frame, and
risk tolerance.

No10: Understand the Risks!
Every market has different risk factors. In fact, each trade has its own distinct risk factors. You need to be aware of them. You may have a general awareness that the market may not go the way you thought. That is certainly true, and that is why stop loss orders are advocated. It is how the market can go against you, though, that is important. In the major markets, things like economic releases, earnings reports, and statements by government officials can influence prices. Some cannot be avoided, like a natural disaster, but others can be by simply being aware of the calendar and taking measures to guard against an adverse data release or speech by someone like the Fed Chairman.

New traders are prone to mistakes as they learn how to be successful. If you take the advice of this article, you should be able to prevent unnecessarily losing money because of things you could have avoided. Learn from the mistakes of others. It will make you more successful in the long run and make the path you take a bit smoother. That could both save your money in avoidable losses, and potentially lead to more profits.

John Forman is a Professional Forex Analyst and is currently working for Thomson Reuters and was previously Managing Analyst and Chief Trader for Anduril. He is a near 20-year veteran of trading and investing across a wide array of markets and instruments, and a former professional analyst with experience covering forex, fixed income, equities, and commodities. His analysis and market comments have been found in the financial news media across the world and he has published dozens of articles on trading methodology and analysis technique and he was also a former Content Editor for Trade2Win
John is the author of the book The Essentials of Trading: From the Basics to Building a Winning Strategy (Wiley, April 2006). He has spoken on trading and market related topics to numerous student groups and been a guest lecturer on several occasions. In cooperation with a professor, he helped design and present a university level trading course.

John Forman is a Professional Forex Analyst and is currently working for Thomson Reuters and was previously Managing Analyst and Chief Trader for Andu...

henry766

Well-known member
433 17
The author applies 10% of his article to the "system", having a truly profitable system is 99%of trading, the rest is just decoration.
 

BroadSword

Guest
137 4
Yes, a system is important, you need a tested profitable strategy, but equally important is money management and being psychologically robust enough to trade your strategy.

Neither of these last two points gain any mention, although are aluded to indirectly, I suppose...
 

neil

Legendary member
5,167 745
trader Mike at work

An old article I found which might interest some. It relates to how one trader works.

http://tradermike.net/2006/06/tools_of_the_trade_how_i_work/

It is not suggested you adopt his methods or equipment. I post the article for those interested in how other people work.