Monday, June 14, 2021

How To Innovate In Your Trading


Very little has been written in trading psychology about innovation.  And yet, wherever I've encountered traders and portfolio managers with longstanding track records of success, I've seen evidence of innovation.  The innovator is the one who asks really good questions, really original questions.  The innovator is the one who sees changes in market behavior and wants to figure out what that's all about and how to take advantage of it.  

When we become completely P/L focused, there's little bandwidth left for innovation.  Superior trading requires an absorption in markets; superior good idea generation requires getting away from screens and seeing a bigger picture.

On a recent trip to Nashville, I had plenty of time away from screens and started asking simple questions, but questions I hadn't asked before.  For instance, I wondered if the best predictors of what happens in a given equity market index (such as SPX) might come from stocks outside that index (such as Russell 2000) or subsets of that index (such as the Dow).  In other words, do certain groups of stocks tend to lead momentum moves, trending moves, or reversal moves in a given index?  Oddly enough, I had always looked for data generated by an index to anticipate moves in that index.  But what if that's just playing the same game as everyone else?

Early days and we'll see what the research brings, but it's promising so far.  For example, it turns out that strength in the average RSI of small cap stocks is strongly correlated with future short-term strength in the SPX, accounting for almost all of the gains in SPY for the past two years.  Who knew?

But the great psychological benefit of innovation is that it leads to curiosity and discovery and fascination.  It rekindles our interest in markets when we could otherwise be ground down by choppy trading conditions and lackluster P/L.  Finding a new edge feels like becoming a new trader all over again, with all the new enthusiasm and excitement.  Come to think of it, that's also what leads to keeping relationships new and that's what leads to keeping life fresh and interesting.  When we innovate, look at new things, try new things, and learn new things, we are reborn--and that *gives* us energy.

Further Reading: