10 Essential Trading Elements
By: Mark Crisp
1. You can't take more risk than you are comfortable with - emotion is the enemy of the trader. Most of us are slaves to our emotion, which is why most traders fail despite the apparent simplicity of trading. To be successful, you have to manage emotion, and the first step toward emotional mastery is to not take more risk than you are comfortable with. If you can't sleep at night over the potential of losing more than $500 on a stock trade, then you should not risk more than $500 on a stock trade. The less you care about the outcome of a trade, the smarter you will execute it.
2. Stops loss orders must be used - one big loss can wipe out the gains of five winning trades. Success requires that you don't take big losses, so utilize stop loss orders. Once you are entered in a trade, enter a stop loss order and stick to it. If your brokerage does not provide the ability to execute stop loss orders, then change brokers.
3. No one cares more about your money than you - only you really care whether you make money or not. Therefore, do not depend on others to make you money; you have to take control and know what is going on. You can use the skills of others to help you make decisions, but ultimately, your success in the market will come down to what you do.
4. Losers react, winners predict - the market does not care about what happened in the past. If you are using publicly available information to make trading decisions, then you are using old information. The stock market moves on what it expects to happen in the future, and not on what has already happened. Use what has happened in the past to provide clues to what may happen in the future, but don't make decisions on information that is widely known.
5. The stock market is not fair - Within every stock, there are a small group of investors who know more than the general public. They have an advantage, because they can better predict what a company will do in the future. To be successful, we have to figure out what the investors with better information are doing, and then do the same.
6. Information is biased - the financial industry wants you to buy stocks. The brokerages that finance the companies, the newsletters that get paid to advertise company stories, the promoters that get paid to promote stocks, the media that sell more advertising in an up market and of course, the companies themselves all benefit when stock prices go higher. The more buyers, the higher prices go. Trust no one when making investment decisions, because everyone can have a bias. Only the market can not lie (although it can seem pretty stupid sometimes), therefore, trust what the market tells you.
7. Hard work does not make money in the market - you need to work hard to learn how the stock market works. You need to work hard to learn how to manage your emotions. You need to work hard to learn discipline. However, the most money is made in a market that is trending, one where there are lots of opportunities and it seems easy to make money. When the market is not trending, it is harder to find opportunities. Working harder when the going gets tough will cause you to take marginal trades. Take the obvious trades, they are more likely to work.
8. Black boxes don't work - there are a lot of companies selling trading systems that magically spit out buy and sell recommendations. The stock market is like a flu virus; just when you think you have it figured out, it changes in to something else. Therefore, systems too must evolve with the market. A system that worked in the past may not work in the future. However, what seems to always work is understanding how humans and crowds behave. Learn that, and you can begin to pick stocks in any market condition. More importantly, learn the art of trading well, knowing that you can not always be right, that you have to limit losses and let profits run and that you have to understand what motivates people to buy and sell. Systems, indicators, and computer programs are simply tools to help you make better decisions.
9. The stock market is usually efficient - actually, stock, futures, currencies and any other market that has enough people trading them are usually efficient. That means, most of the time you can not beat the markets. To do better than the masses, you have to identify situations where market efficiency is breaking down. That occurs when the crowd is emotional or when small groups of investors are trading on private information. Usually, that is most easily found when stocks are trading abnormally in terms of price and volume. Focus your attention on abnormal behavior when looking for trading opportunities.
10. Discipline is essential - you have to manage risk effectively, you have to use stops loss orders, you have to always be looking for high probability trading opportunities, you have to avoid taking too much risk and you have to let winning positions run. The laws of trading are nothing if you don't have the discipline to follow them.
The very first sentence:
"Successful trading of the stock market requires a lot more than knowing what to buy or sell. "
In other words....
IT'S NOT WHAT YOU TRADE, IT'S HOW YOU TRADE IT!