Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Few Hard Realities for Traders

Here are a few lessons that I've seen traders learn the hard way. My hope is that putting them out there can prevent a few train wrecks:

* If you don't save a good portion of your earnings in successful years of trading, you won't last during the less successful years;

* If you don't have a solid nest egg of savings to support you while you're learning trading, you won't survive your learning curve;

* Everyone has a passion for trading; if you don't have a passion for learning to trade, take a pass on financial markets and find the field of endeavor that offers intrinsic reward;

* If you're living for your trading, you won't make it trading for a living. Other things need to sustain you in the lean times, particularly the things that are more important than markets;

* The ratio of time spent working on your trading to time spent actually trading is predictive of long-term career success;

* In any performance field, the percentage of participants who can sustain a living from their craft is under 5%; always have a Plan B;

* No one can make you successful as a trader if you lack the requisite talents and skills; a mentor can, at best, help you make the most of the talents and skills you possess;

* Even if you are very successful as a trader, your annual income will be a fraction of your leveraged portfolio size;

* Your risk and reward will always be proportional: count on drawdowns of at least half of what you hope to make in markets;

* Psychology alone cannot make you a successful trader, but it can make you an unsuccessful one;

* Quiet markets reveal the best traders;

* Over time, your risk-adjusted returns are more valuable than your absolute returns;

* Trading is a business and, as such, must always adapt to changing market conditions;

* If you can't make money consistently when paper trading, you won't be successful when your capital is on the line;

* If someone promises you trading success, keep a close eye on your wallet.