Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How Developing Traders Can Build A Track Record

One of the great challenges for people trying to break into the trading world is building a track record.  After all, you need to have money to trade and that's not easy when you're in paying-back-student-loan mode!  

In my book on building trading performance, I wrote about the value of simulated trading.  Paper trading is not the same as having money on the line, but it's a great way to get the deliberate practice hours in and build those pattern recognition and risk management skills.

Since that book, a number of fresh options for building skills through simulated trading have emerged.  One of the most promising is Zolio.  What makes Zolio unique is that serves two roles: 1) it is a trading platform that provides traders with real time data and tracks their trades and performance, and 2) it is an educational platform that helps developing traders learn from their experience via articles, webinars, and collected performance data.

Users can make use of Zolio in a couple of ways.  Beginners can simply try out new markets and trading strategies and keep score to see how well they perform with different approaches.  They can also try out different ways of managing risk, entering positions, etc.  The simulation mode is a great way to make lots of mistakes and learn from them without depleting trading capital.  The webinars cover such topics as risk management and stockpicking. 

More advanced developing traders can use a platform like Zolio to build a real time trading track record, which Zolio then can help shop to trading firms.  This is a great way to demonstrate market experience and trading skills.  The data that the platform collects provides much more detailed information on trading style, risk management, and overall performance than one could ever convey in a normal interview.

One of the unique aspects of Zolio is that they require participants to keep trading journals and document the reasons for their trading decisions.  Those journals become excellent review and learning tools.  Zolio also conducts personality testing with its traders, so that they can see their strengths and make use of that information in developing their trading styles.  The idea is to use the platform to learn more about who you are and how you can succeed in financial markets.

I notice that Zolio is sponsoring a trading competition with prizes and an opportunity to stand out in performance.  I like the fact that the largest prize goes to the person who achieves the best risk-adjusted returns, not just the person who takes the most risk and happens to make a lucky strike.  It could be a nice opportunity for developing traders to enter the competitive trading world, test their skills, and learn about themselves.

FURTHER READING:  The role of simulation in supercharging learning

Note:  I will occasionally highlight resources for traders via the blog.  My strict policy is to never accept compensation of any kind for such mentions.  I don't mention a service unless I've had personal experience with it and with the people running it.