If you are just beginning to trade binary options, there are a lot of reasons why you should be very careful at first. Binary options are an extremely risk investment even for experienced traders. While day traders have the ability to make a lot of money with binary options very quickly, they also can lose a lot of money just as fast. Learn why you should take it slow, and how you should prepare yourself to trade with larger size trades.
When You Lose, It’s All Gone
A binary option is a very simple instrument. When you win, you win a high return pre-specified payout amount, and when you lose, you lose your entire position. The allure of scoring a huge trade causes many people to wager big amounts on binary option trades, especially right when they start trading. They may even take a position using their entire account value.
When you are trading your whole account value, it only takes 1 wrong trade to lose everything you put into it. More often than not, a loss comes quickly to those who try this ill conceived practice. When it does, they are left feeling depressed and dejected. This is a mistake that can easily be avoided.
Realize That You Will Lose
A big part of being a successful day trader is managing expectations. People who have been trading for a long time are under no illusions that they will be able to avoid losses. Having losing trades is an inevitable and unavoidable part of day trading.
They key to being successful trading is to manage your losses, keep them small, and realize that as long as your strategy is net profitable, you can simply increase your trade size over time and make a lot of money.
While there are different strategies to limiting losses depending upon what you are trading and your trading style, every trade must come to the conclusion that a dollar saved in a losing trade is a dollar earned. An equities trader may use astop loss, an options trader may take positional hedges, and binary options traders must develop their own strategies.
Small Size Means Less Loss
A good way to limit losses when you are just starting to trade binary options is to keep your position size very small. While this may seem frustrating to the beginner who instantly wants to make a lot of money, they must keep their expectations realistic. Very rarely does a trader become rich over night, and when they do it is always luck. Since luck is out of your control, you should decide instead for the most optimal outcome.
No matter how well you think your strategy will work, unless you are using it with real trades and real money, it is not proven. The first step that any beginner needs to take is to prove that they are profitable with small positions.
Beginners Want To Stick Around
A beginner wants to stay in the game long enough to get better, improve their trading, and eventually make a lot of money. If you lose a lot of money quickly, you will not have enough time to develop and learn.
The name of the game for anyone learning to trade is longevity. Most traders fail very quickly because they do not allow themselves enough time to get skilled at the craft. Successful traders know that they will have a learning curve and they either have so much capital to begin with that large losses don’t stop them from trading, or they were smart enough (or lucky enough to be told by a teacher or mentor) to know that they need to trade for a decent amount of time before they will be skilled enough to be consistently profitable.
If you can not turn profits on a consistent basis such as weekly or monthly, you should only be taking the smallest positions. Only after creating a track record which proves your profitability do you have any right to take larger position sizes. This lesson is very expensive for most new traders. If you heed this advice today, you will save yourself a lot of money.
Can You Make A Living Day Trading?
Probably not. Day trading is extremely hard and computer generated algorithmic trades are making it tougher by the day. Does that mean it can’t be done? Absolutely not. There are day traders today who make a good enough living to support themselves comfortably, and some do much better. You may even consider some day traders to be rich.
The problem is that most people are not able to attain that level of success through trading.Over 90% of people who try to day trade for a living ultimately fail. In fact, as the markets have become more electronic, and more computer algorithm driven, fewer traders have been able to trade for a living. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t profitable, or that they don’t manage to have some big trades along the way. The simple fact is that to do it for a living, over a long period of time, a trader needs to experience a lot of success month in and month out.
If you know that obstacles, you may be able to overcome them. Read on to learn the biggest obstacles to day trading successfully enough to live off of, and learn how to give yourself the highest chance to succeed.
Obstacles To Making A Living
• The lack of discipline applying a strategy. This is the number one cause of failure in the trading world. People are often able to develop strategies that are profitable, or would be profitable if they were applied strictly without the trader straying from the system. Unfortunately for a variety of reasons traders can rarely stick to a strategy. Probably the biggest reason why traders are unable to adhere to a strategy involves a lack of patience. Day trading is not as exciting all the time as some people would like it to be. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t very exciting sometimes, but a lot of trading involves sitting around and looking for the right trade setup. Depending upon your strategy, the right trade setups may come few and far between. New traders have a very hard time sitting idle, waiting for the setups to come. New traders think that to become successful, they need to make money every single day. This is simply not the case. Being highly successful on a low number of trades can make a trader rich.
• Developing a strategy that isn’t successful enough. It turns out that it isn’t extremely difficult to create a strategy that is slightly profitable, but to create a highly profitable strategy takes some work/know-how. New and experience traders often fall into a trap where they are making money, so they don’t want to change their strategy, but they are not really making enough money to live on. A clearly defined successful strategy is the most important tool a trader needs to systematically make money over a long period of time. Unless you are perfectly disciplined, you need a strategy with a big upside or a high winning percentage (or ideally both).
• Pressure to make money quickly. If you want to become a successful day trader who can live off day trading profits alone, the one thing you can’t have enough of before you start trading is money. This is not because you will necessarily lose a lot of money when you start trading (though you may), but because it can take time to get good enough at trading that you can pay yourself regularly. If you are under pressure with low savings and lots of bills or a family to support, you will have a hard time trading successfully. You almost certainly will struggle to maintain any discipline, and you will have a hard time sticking with trading long enough to get any good at it. You need to be able to survive for quite some time without income if trading is your only source of income. Even professional day traders go through a month here and there where they don’t make any money.
• The stock market is extremely competitive. I would love to be able to tell you that anyone can become a day trader with a little hard work, but that is not reality. The truth is that the stock market is very, very, very competitive. Wildly competitive. As a day trader, you will be fighting investment banks, hedge funds, trading algorithms, and all sorts of very smart people, institutions, and machines for the same profits. If one person makes money, it means that someone else is losing money or giving up an opportunity to make money (opportunity cost). People who consistently lose money do not survive for very long in the stock market. To be successful as a trader you need to develop a niche, and become very good at what you do. Equity markets are so competitive that they are very efficient at reflecting the “right” prices. There is still opportunity, but there isn’t any “free money”. Being profitable takes intelligence and hard work.
• Being unable or unwilling to adapt. The stock market is always changing. A strategy that has worked for a year or longer may suddenly stop being profitable. Laws are changing, and the market has seen the invention of electronic markets, dark pools, and electronic market makers. The way that the market moves will continue to change. For a trader to make a living day trading, an ability to adapt is crucial. Unless you can make a lifetimes worth of income before the market changes, you will need to adapt with the times.
The Keys To Succeeding At Day Trading
After hearing all the obstacles, you may be scared to try day trading. Not day trading may even be the best decision you ever make. Far more traders will lose time, money, and their sanity than than experience riches and success. Even so, day trading is exciting and potentially very lucrative. While fewer traders have been able to make a living in today’s fast moving electronic market, those who are able to make a living tend to do do very well. The odds are against you succeeding at day trading, but if you are able to succeed you will probably be well compensated.
The biggest key to success in day trading is to avoid habits that lead to big losses. Here are the important points to master if you want to earn your living as a trader.
• Develop a (winning) strategy in a demo account. It is very important that you don’t waste money trying to figure out your strategy. Keep a demo account that simulates real trading as closely as possible and test your strategy as thoroughly as possible there. Only after you have confidence that it will make money systematically should you move to “live money”. For help developing a strategy read our article about it.
• Adhere to your strategy perfectly. By far, the biggest mistake that new traders make is that they are unable to stick to their strategy. Trading has narrow enough margins without wasting money on imperfect trades. Keep yourself profitable by keeping yourself disciplined. A good way to do this is by tracking and reviewing every trade with a trading journal, and by reviewing your trade blotter every day.
• Manage your emotions. Negative emotions lead to reckless trading, an inability to properly manage trade size, and make it easier to miss good trades. To master trading you need to master your emotions.
• Adapt. If your strategy no longer works, you need to go back to your demo account and either tweak it or develop a new strategy that will work. The market is certain to change, it is up to you to change with it.
Ultimately if you are going to succeed at day trading enough to make a living you are going to have to go through a big learning curve. Their are many resources, and many people willing to help you. You will have to learn to develop your strategies, and learn to control your trading so you adhere to them without wavering. You will need to spot opportunities, and be willing to act quickly and decisively to take advantage while they present themselves. The best day traders are willing to aggressively pursue any opportunity. Any day trader will tell you that the trade setup will not last for long, and if you wait, you will lose your chance.
If you want to make a living day trading you need to be aware that you have a long road ahead of you, but the rewards can be very sweet.
Should You Trade Large Cap Stocks?
February 10, 2015 Daniel Major Leave a comment
You may have heard many traders say that large cap stocks are not a category that should consistently be traded. There are a number of reasons (some legitimate) that a trader may shy away from large cap stocks. These include:
• Not enough volatility (especially in dividend paying large cap stocks)
• Too crowded (there are too many algorithms and too much “smart money” transacting already)
• Too much risk of a mutual fund or hedge fund with large orders changing the trade out of nowhere.
• Too many competing interests for them to ever have a consistently readable direction (in the short run)
• The price is already very efficient.
These are the most commonly cited reasons that day traders stay away from large cap stocks during the course of their trading. While these are all real concerns every asset class has its own set of difficulties. Like anything, the answer to whether or not you should trade large cap stocks depends upon your goals and strategy. Here are some times and reasons to justify when it may behoove a trader to dip into the large cap lake.
Recap, What A Large Cap Stock Is
A large cap stock is one of the largest stocks traded in the marketplace. Large cap is short for large capitalization (refering to the size of the market capitalization, or total value of all outstanding stock). For a stock to be considered large cap is must have a total market capitalization of more than $10 Billion dollars. Large cap stocks are mostly extremely well known companies such as Apple, Exxon Mobil, Proctor and Gamble, General Electric, Walmart, and Microsoft. Many large cap stocks are also “Blue Chip Stocks”, which refer to large financially strong companies that have been around for a very long time. Many blue chip stocks operate in manufacturing and consumer goods.
Now that you are clear what is meant by large cap stock, here are times when it can be profitable to trade them.
Your Strategy Doesn’t Depend Upon Large Fluctuations
Many large cap stocks do not experience a lot of volatility (as a percentage of their price) on a day to day basis, which can make them a difficult trade for some day traders who need a stock to make significant moves. This would be true of a trader who has a standard brokerage account and only trades with their own capital, buying and selling equities. There are many other ways for a trader to make money today.
Many day trading strategies do not need large fluctuations (in percentage terms) in order to be profitable. A prime example of this would be a binary options trader. In binary options, the trader only needs to end up “in the money”, even if only 1 cent, for the trade to pay out the pre-determined amount. The payout to him is the same regardless of the percent gain in the position. A binary options trader depends upon reliability much more than large movement.
Another strategy that may not need large moves in the price of the stock is if the trader is using large amounts of leverage. For instance if a trader is a proprietary trader trading for a brokerage. When a trader uses the house leverage in large quantities, their positions may be so large that even a movement of a few pennies can bring them large gains.
Another strategy that may not require large movements in price is a strategy involving stock options. Some people buy short term call or put options, and even a small movement in the stock’s price may correspond with a large fluctuation in the price of the option. Other people “write” option contracts. If a day trader writes an option contract, he is betting that the price will either stay the same or move in the opposite direction (down if he writes a call or up if he writes a put) from the direction the buyer would like the price to move. Someone who writes an option contract is creating a contract, and if that contract expires out of the money the trader does not need to deliver any shares of the stock at expiration (and their profit is the value of the option they sold).
If you do not need large movements in a stocks price, large cap stocks may be the trade for you. Reliability may be more important that size of price changes.
The Price Action Is Readable
If you do not need large price fluctuations but instead depend upon a stock being reliability, many large cap stocks will go through periods when their price action is especially readable. The dependability of the trade may be very attractive. These are examples of when (and how) a large cap stock may become a reliable trade.
• Many algorithms (or traders) appear to be buying or selling at the same time (when the stock reaches a particular price, RSI, or moving average for example). While this will never always hold true, it may hold true long enough or often enough for a day trader to turn some serious profits.
• The largest transactors in the stock may be mostly buying and selling (moving the price) in the same way on a particular day. This may be a result of news, industry changes, or re balancing of their large portfolios (usually takes place at the end of quarters). If the price direction for a day is very readable and the large transactors appear to be moving the stock in the same direction, it may be a trade to consider. Usually large transactors can be “sniffed out” by reading the prints.
• A stock is either “hot” or mired in dismal performance. You may notice that a large cap stock appears to have increasingly worse and worse prospects, or a particular stock may be in the news a lot and may be generating more and more profits such as Apple (AAPL) has been doing for years. If you notice a real trend that you want to be a part of, large cap stocks often have long term trends that stay true for enough time to profit from a trade.
You May Want To Play Earnings
Earnings are an especially volatile time for a stock. Many times even a large cap stock stock can move 5%, 10%, even 20% after earnings are released. Because large cap stocks are stocks that consumers may have more knowledge about, and they may have a lot more news/analysis coverage, many day traders want to take part in the earnings trade. If you think that you have a feel that earnings may be better or worse than the street is anticipating, or what is priced into the stock already, this can be a very exciting trade to be a part of. Just be careful, as earnings release trades can move a stock’s price a lot for the better but it can also move the price a lot for the worse (depending upon the direction of your position).
Large Cap Stocks Are Still Good To Trade
You do not need to fear large cap stocks as a day trader. What is most important is that you recognize when they can be traded, and that they are most valuable either when your strategy depends upon their reliability or you do not need large price moves in order to be highly profitable. If you can develop a profitable trade in a large cap stock, you should work to exploit it to it’s fullest potential, as day traders make the most money when they are creative and aggressive in their trading.
What Makes Trading Software Good
Software is extremely important when you trade. There is not necessarily one software that is “best” but there certainly are software programs that are better than others. There are a few points to keep in mind when a trader chooses a software program to trade with, or chooses a brokerage based upon their trading platform.
Every trader wants a trading software or a trading platform that is “low latency”. This is a fancy way of saying that all of the quotes and information displayed by the software is extremely up to date, calculated to the microsecond. This is crucial for traders because the markets move so quickly. A trader needs the most up to date information possible, if they are to trade effectively. This is more true every day, as more and more computer algorithms make up a bigger and bigger percentage of the total trades. Computers act fast, and if a trader has a software that is not up to date, they will struggle, especially on short term trades, where pennies can make the difference between a profit and a loss.
At How We Trade we also recommend that you use the lowest latency software possible. We would not want a trader to have any disadvantage, as trading is hard enough by itself.
It usually makes a trader more effective if the software has a simple user interface. This is not to say that the software should be unsophisticated, or be lacking in formation or features. The key here is that the design of the software allows a trader to navigate intuitively. Not only does this allow a trader to move more quickly with less thought about how to interact with the software, but it also goes a long way to prevent user errors, popularly termed mistakes like “fat finger” trades.
At How We Trade we prefer a simple design. Good software programs for day traders include platforms likeTradestation, Thinkorswim, or Sterling. We also trade with Tradorax when we trade binary options, because they have a clean professional interface with their software.
Whatever choice you make regarding your preferred software, remember that it needs to be something that you are comfortable with, that you can navigate with ease and that you will not make order entry mistakes with. Remember, accurate orders are a trader’s best friend.
Your Software Should Have Advanced Charting Features
Depending upon your strategy, you may use advanced charting features when you trade. If your strategy depends upon charting moving averages, MACD indicators, Fibonacci signals, stochastic indicators, or something similar, you need to make sure that your software includes this. Software and online platforms from many companies do include these indicators today, but if you use one or more of these in your trading, or you think you may incorporate them into your trading at some point, you should have software with advanced charting elements included.
Alternately, you could also use a third party trade indicator software if this is more effective for you. There are a few of them out there. Most do require you to pay a separate fee, which may be worthwhile if they are profitable. As with any indicator, the key is in learning when it is effective and when it is not effective, because not all signals will be profitable and you will have to develop additional rules to using the indicators in most cases.
This may sound a little silly, but trading is very emotional. When you trade, you want to be focused and in an upbeat mood. Using a software with eye pleasing colors, layout, or a good looking scheme can help keep you in the right frame of mind for trading. When emotions play such a big role in determining your ultimate success or failure, every edge counts, just like every edge in your trading strategy counts. In fact we consider superior mastery of your emotions an edge when it comes to making profits. Remember, when you think successful thoughts you have a higher chance of achieving your goals. Software can play an important role in this area.
Most Software Packages Are Sufficient From A Mechanical Perspective
Today, most trading software and trading platforms are technologically advanced enough to provide trader with sufficient features and reliability to access the markets efficiently. What this means is that most software can “get the job done”. The best software packages do more than this though. To succeed, you want your software to be lightening fast, eye catching, have elegance in its sophisticated yet simple design, and to have the tools you need to consistently profit from the markets!
Overcoming Emotions As A Day Trader
Emotions play perhaps the biggest role in determining whether a day trader ultimately succeeds or fails. Developing a working system is an ability that most traders ultimately develop. Some people even develop or find excellent trading systems that only need to be followed exactly as the system is intended to be followed, and the trader will make enormous profits. Unfortunately, most traders do not follow their systems exactly because their emotions get in the way. This leads to regret, anger, frustration, and ultimately failure. Trading is hard enough without bringing emotions into it. If you can learn to master your emotions, you will begin to master trading itself.