21 March 2014

Style Shift : Trend Trading with "Working" Characteristics

  • Last 3 years' trading here has been trying to say the least. Serious capital erosion, negative income, inflating expenses, personal finances dire. No longer can afford big swings in trading P&L. Major revamp called for, survival at stake. Fighting!
  • Weakness : Allowing open profits to disappear (and then some) whilst waiting for trending trades to perform. Applies especially to "stale" trades ie those that show promise in the early stages, suck me in, stall and eventually reverse sharply. Tendency to build up large risk position whilst market is in process of stalling, followed by inertia when sharp reversals inevitably occur and watching positive turns negative, is THE fatal mistake for me. [In my defence, I am always very disciplined in taking losses on "new" trades that fail]. 
  • Solution (step 1) : Abandon the "Run Your Profits" maxim. Conventional wisdom that one should squeeze as much as possible from the few trends each year is wrong for me. I did very well in 2007 & 2008 following this but those were exceptional crises years in which trends kept going on and on. Most other (normal) times, trends do not last for months on end. Kill this mentality of T4L by sitting on trend trades.
  • Solution (step 2) : Approach T4L as a job, to earn a fixed monthly salary. Trade entry criteria still as before, ie based on chart patterns of trend continuations and reversals. Difference is, once profits on open trades hit monthly salary level now, either close all trades or lock in at least 80% (non-negotiable). Then restart from zero (or continue with the 20% balance open positions). This forces periodic risk resets to (near) zero (= level at which I am most disciplined), eliminates inertia when things go wrong, and also necessarily mean that there are no "stale" trades for me to bury myself over.
  • Trade off is extra-normal large profits (and big losses) vs consistent smaller profits with almost negligible risk of self implosion. After my experience of the last 3 years, consistency profitability, however small, is much welcomed.
  • Trading volumes and associated costs are naturally higher with the new (churn) approach. Also very hard work (almost like having a job again), because when monthly salary target levels are reached, I am now having to watch hourly charts for reversal patterns to lock in profits at optimal levels. Once out (in the midst of a trending market), there is much anxiety in re-entry (fear of missing trend). I now spend a lot more time watching very short term charts for both getting out and going back in. The autopilot approach is no more. It's like interbank days all over again - hard work.
  • So far, so good. Much reduced P&L volatility, and positive performances YTD. Today I was able to make a cash withdrawal for my 1st quarter salary out of profits in my futures margin account. Best piece of news to share here for ages, a cause for celebration. Periodic withdrawals reduce risk of overtrading too.
  • [Note that this new approach does not mean my monthly profit potential is limited to the salary level. Eg this month, I had 3 resets towards zero = made 3X salary].
  • Progress will be driven by increasing trading size as and when account equity is increased. This clearly will be dependant on making enough to have retained earnings left over after salary is paid out. 


Anonymous said...

Hi Taichiseal,

I have been follong your blog for years and I'm very happy to see you "turned a corner" and adopting a style shift. If you need more inspiration that is in line with this new style you should check out tastytrade.com.

I think you would enjoy the askSLM show (specially the Wednesday segment called Future Review). You might also get some insigth from the LIZ & JNY show - their mantra is Trade Small - Trade Often. For some great research watch the Market Measure show.

For Chart galore - check out first segment of the Last Call show with Tim Night.

There is 1000 of hours of great learnings and 8 new hours every trading day... starting 8pm Singapore time.

Good luck with your Style Shift - looking forward to continue reading your blog.


Taichiseal said...

Peter - thanks very much. Too early. I need to keep this going for a long time before I can declare that I have "turned a corner".