Secret or Shame?

stock trader

Junior member
How do you traders and potential traders manage to keep your trading activities secret and avoid those inquisitive questions and remarks, especially comments made by family members. I manage to keep my trading activity under wraps and do not mention it to friends but comments from family members do hurt (though they do not realise this) and demoralise especially when they do not have a clue of my activities they consider me to be nothing but a Gambler! are we really Gamblers I suppose to a certain extent we must
How do you folks cope with this problem?? what mechanism do you adopt to overcome this?

Lets have your comments!


From a personal view, I find it just as hard to manage my own emotions and expectations as it is for me to manage my families.

I've now got to the stage where I say the markets are "just drifting". Which is true. It’s either drifting up or down. That way you don't get asked the ins and outs of everything, and therefore you can't get hurt by anything they say.

If you tell the family your doing well, then they say well done and increase your confidence, which can be a very dangerous thing in the markets. On the flip side, if your not doing well, then it's likely they'll put trading in the same category as "Gambling".

The difference between Gambling and Trading/Speculating is that Gamblers do not know what they’re doing. Someone who makes money backing horses is not a gambler, just a speculator based on the knowledge that they have acquired over time.
It’s the same in trading, a gambler will blindly throw money at a share where as a trader/speculator will use his knowledge to gain the best possible risk/reward ration.

These are just my thoughts, but I’m coming to the conclusion that families are a pain in a traders ****, and I would love to hear from some of the top traders on how they manage their families expectations. :)
An interesting question. Since I gave up my nice safe job as an IT Manager and became full time trader, I've had various comments from friends, most of whom have been supportive. However, none of my immediate family have any idea what I do now. I've told them they dont need to know as they'd only worry, and they're happy with that. I'll tell them when I believe I am consistently profitable enough to 'prove my case', because the negative comments will be inevitable.

In the meantime, they have been trying to guess what I do. In a moment of jest, they suggested I must be stuffing envelopes. This has provided a nice euphemism for trading - I can tell them what sort of week I've had ("stuffed a lot of envelopes" = traded a lot of contracts etc etc).

Hi FTSE & Henry
This certainly seems like an area that needs addressing if it can ever be addressed as every one is different you for example'FTSE' are fairly open and those around your sorrounding are aware of your activities and to a certain extent they accept what you do and you are quite capable in shruging away akward questions and approaches. However reading between the lines,'Henry' you obviously do not want your immediate family to know what you are up to as they might 'worry' the interesting thing here is Henry 'What are your Fears?' this is exactly what I am in search of as its also lurking inside me. You go on to say that you will tell your family when you are consistently profitable, but we all know as traders that this can never be guranteed...What then??

thanks for your replies

Hi all,

I find all the family/friends stuff much more difficult to manage than my own feelings. The attitudes they have are so at variance that I find myself playing different roles according to who I am talking to. I always say what I am doing but I temper it by their reaction.
The hardest to manage are those of those closest to me, my husband and parents and to a degree now the children. My husband thinks I'm wasting myself by trading and think it is all gambling and that I will meet a sticky end, he's been calmed to a certain extent by me saying if I lose my initial "pot" then I will stop trading (which means I have to be very very careful).
My parents are very supportive and gung ho "Go for it girl" and would give me more money to trade with if I asked. The kids say things like "If that chart goes up Mummy can we have more toys?".

All of those things are added external pressures and as we know it's quite hard enough managing the ones you have internally let alone taking on others.

My tactic now is to say as little as possible about it to anyone, win or lose. Although I did have a major discussion on Sunday over dinner with an accountant friend who believes that markets move at random and therefore I have to lose eventually :)

But I do love the chance to talk trading, which is why the chances to meet other traders face to face are so good. Other non involved people just don't understand.
stock trader said:
However reading between the lines,'Henry' you obviously do not want your immediate family to know what you are up to as they might 'worry' the interesting thing here is Henry 'What are your Fears?' this is exactly what I am in search of as its also lurking inside me. You go on to say that you will tell your family when you are consistently profitable, but we all know as traders that this can never be guranteed...What then??

Sure consistent profits can never be guaranteed, but then what in life can, apart from death and taxes of course? I personally have no fears about my trading being my sole source of income; I strongly believe that with determination and dedication, I will succeed as many others here have done. I have no dependents to provide for, and with sound money management and a finite amount of capital in my trading account, I’m not going to lose my home. If I can't make it pay after a year, I'll go and find a "proper" job again, so why should I be afraid?

The only thing I do worry about is as I originally said, that I may cause my parents in particular, undue stress. As Helen says, people who are not involved in trading don't really understand. Their views seem to vary from "it's a source of instant riches" to "a sure-fire way to lose the shirt from your back". When I can show the family that I'm able to live off the proceeds of my endeavours, it will just be a little less stressful for them.
And in the meantime, it's an endless source of entertainment for both them and me as they keep coming up with new ideas as to what I am doing. Their latest theory is that I'm training in taxidermy :D

Henry - as you say, what in life is guaranteed? A permanent "proper job" is only permanent for 3 months - beyond that it's at the whim of someone else. Doing the job well is no guarantee of continued employment. Having been made redundant twice in the banking/insurance world in 10 years, I was determined to do something that no one else could take away, and I don't give a monkeys what anyone else thinks.
Do what I do!!! I have no dependants, no parents, no interfering friends (my friends would have no idea about what I do). My work colleagues are interested rather than censorial- and- as for anyone else- hard luck - it's my life.
Seriously though, it would appear I am not going to have the same physcological problems with family as others, maybe being on my own has some advantages!!!
People do all kinds of things to make money. As far as the job is not illegal and it is lucrative then who cares!
If we didn't have the stock market Bill Gates wouldn't have been so rich. Warren Buffet wouldn't be rich at all. George Soros wouldn't have been the man he is. Almost every billionaire there is, especially in the US, has at some point profited from the stock market.
The stock market is of course a gamble for those who adopt the academic policy of buy and hold. If one bought in 1929 when the US market was at its peak then he/she would very possibly never recover the initial investment. But the buy and hold policy works most of the times and this is what most of the people are concerned about.
I only give tips to people I don`t like!

I only talk in general terms to friends and family. Someone once bought on something I said and was gleefully telling me about the purchase they had made a week or two later by which time I had closed out. Never again. All very embarrassing. Give general advice on tactics and refer to books and sites of interest encouraging DYOR at all times is my motto.

If someone really presses me for info I now find myself indicating things are bad if I have had a good day and terrific if I have had a bad day.

To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln whilst it may be possible to fool all of the people some of the time it is not possible to fool your wife for any of the time particularly when she opens your post and has access to your computer!

If you think about all I have written here I hope it will be of some help.

As traders and individuals we all have different views on this subject it is an issue many of us will confront sooner or later, how our emotions react and how we respond will be a result of our personality.

I believe that there is no ‘right or wrong’ way to react to all this it is an individual thing. How our emotions react to the term ‘gambler’ implied or otherwise is difficult to equate in general, some of us will shrug it all aside and think nothing of it, some will be ashamed of it all, and depending on the strength of feelings might even pack in trading altogether or possibly seek counselling, and some of us will take all this as a ‘complement’.

I personally feel very uneasy with the word ‘gambler’ I am comfortable with the term ‘Trader’. But no matter how much we deny ourselves, the truth of the matter remains that it is very important for us to know how others perceive us (Ignorant or Not).

many thanks for all your feedback

From another forum, I quote the following which I think usefully distinguishes between gambling and speculation/trading:

It's speculating, not gambling.

In gambling the odds are always against you.

In speculating the odds can be either way.

The speculator has more chance than the gambler to win that return.

The speculator can choose to go long or to short, while the gambler can only take a long position, and his "house" is always the short with an edge.

The speculator can often get an edge, by the skillful use of information.

The gambler can never get an edge in the game of odds without outright cheating.

All the gambler is able to do is improve his odds with information, such as knowing the track record of horses in the race, and the condition of those horses today etc..

No matter how good his information, however, he is still deficient at the odds.

The speculator can often construct arbs that have superior odds to the house, by using two or more broker houses.

The gambler never has this opportunity.

However, speculators "gamble" when they take positions without any information or knowledge, and can be considered just gamblers in that instance.

But, while speculators can gamble, gamblers can never really speculate in their domain. Anytime a gambler speculates it's called cheating, because it means he used "information" that the public was denied, which he obtained through some devious means, like poisoning the horses, to obtain the favorable odds.

So, trading FX is speculating; Unless you use a betting house that only offers a one sided market, then it becomes gambling.
My wife regards trading as gambling, and she is against gambling on religious grounds.

However, she has no objection to owning shares (and has recently just inherited quite a few). I suppose that's "investing".

But morally (IMHO), there is little difference.

However, it's not something I choose to argue with her!
However, it's not something I choose to argue with her!

Wise Mike

Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater.
If you give her sperm, she'll make you a baby.
If you give her a house, she'll make a home.
If you give her groceries, she'll make you a meal.
If you give her a smile, she'll give you her heart.

She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her.

So if you give her any crap, be ready to receive a ton of sh!t. :D