Upon thinking about the differences between the highly successful traders I recently talked with and their less successful counterparts, five features stand out. Pretty much everything else follows from these five:
1) The less successful traders are anticipating market movement and trading accordingly. The highly successful traders are identifying asset class mispricings and trading off those.
2) The less successful traders are trading particular instruments and pretty much stick to those. The highly successful traders recognize that any combination of trading instruments can be considered an asset class and appropriately priced (and gauged for mispricing).
3) The less successful traders think of their market as *the* market. The highly successful traders focus on interrelationships among markets that cut across nationalities and asset classes.
4) The highly successful traders place just as much emphasis on understanding markets as predicting them. The less successful traders don't ask "why" questions.
5) The less successful traders are convinced they have proprietary information of value that they must not disclose to anyone. The highly successful traders use their proprietary information to selectively share with other highly successful participants, thereby gaining a large informational edge.
If I had to use one phrase to capture the essence of the highly successful traders, it would be analytical creativity. These traders are creative in their thinking about markets and rigorous in their pursuit of this creativity.