How did you get into trading?
I first learnt about investing from my father while I was quite young. After my first year out of high school I spent a year working and saving and later invested my savings in some shares. I made a good profit on these and was able to use this to support my university studies.
In 2010, after completing my undergraduate degree, I had the good fortune to work with Carlo at TradersCircle, which introduced me to the options market. However at the time I decided I would return to studies and did not apply what I had learnt. Through doing nothing in that time I learned a lesson that is often repeated; ‘when you do nothing, nothing happens’. Two years ago I returned and went through the Traders Circle program again as a refresher. I then started trading options for the first time about 12 months ago now. There has been some tough lessons along the way, but I love it.
What do you trade, for example, shares, indexes or currencies, and why?
I trade options only and invest in shares for longer term portfolio development. As a younger person starting out I think that it is important to develop a strong portfolio over time. However trading options is a different ball game altogether. First of all I like options as having been aligned with Traders Circle for so many years now I feel the advantage of the familiarity of the options market and the strategies I have learned to trade it. Secondly there is a versatility in trading options that does not exist when investing in shares. It is also faster paced and oftentimes more challenging which is something I enjoy and am stimulated by.
Trading the options market is a part of my long term money management and wealth accrual plan. What I love about it is the flexibility it gives me. I travel pretty frequently and trading the market is something you can do from anywhere in the world where there is an internet connection these days. Further I am young and still developing my career, so this gives me the chance to develop a second line of revenue while I study or am between jobs. I also think this is a great option for women, as it gives you more choice and flexibility around what you want to do when it comes to having a family. This is something you can do from home, so if I decide to have children I can do so and still generate an income from home. I find it really empowering to know that your 9 to 5 does not have to be your sole source of income.
Do you think the everyday person on the street has a chance? Can they become successful traders?
I guess I would consider myself an ‘everyday person off the street’, so to speak, so my answer to that would have to be yes. I grew up on a dairy farm in Gippsland and have self-funded my education, so learning about investing and trading has come through the development of my own interests and networking.
Over the years I have witnessed that fact that trading is something that requires certain factors if you are going to be consistently successful over the longer term, as in anything. I think that you have to come to it ready and willing to learn, employ discipline, communicate with the Traders Circle team and exercise resilience. The fact is not every trade is going to go in your favour. Like many people I learnt this truth the hard way. Through my own experience I have learned that the sooner I employ these factors the better I trade and the higher my personal rate of success. I consider myself very fortunate to have aligned with the TradersCircle team during this time, as I still now believe that they are the only group in the industry that offer the level of genuine encouragement and care that they do.
How have you been able to learn and educate yourself about the markets?
Again I have been very fortunate in terms of my exposure to learning about trading the options market. I first learnt Carlo’s trading rules when working for Traders Circle in 2010. I then was exposed again to the same strategies, slightly modified for the current market, when I returned in 2014. Since then I have continued to gain exposure to trading strategies through volunteering at the Traders Circle training events. Here I get to reconsolidate principles and practice, gain exposure to new material and communicate with other people passionate about making trading the options market work for them.
I spent some time as a competitive athlete over the years, so for me a good support network is one of the key elements to ongoing success. In this way these events are an invaluable part of my growth and development as a trader. I also spend a little time each day looking over the market and reading through relevant material to help expand my market knowledge. Finally I take full advantage of the service that Traders Circle offers by calling up and having a chat with the advisors, asking questions and learning from their experience as well. This is a level of exposure and support that few other companies offer as far as I know.
What were some of the mistakes you made when you started out?
As the song says…. ‘I’ve done all the dumb things…’, but then I have always been one to insist on learning things the hard way. I encourage others not to follow my path in that and just stick to the rules, particularly early on.
Like many people starting out I made simple mistakes that ended up costing me significantly more than they should have. I have subsequently termed these my ‘learning investments’. Most of these resulted from either breaking the trading rules outright, overlooking important factors or poor money management.
For instance early on I was not very clear about the significance of support and resistance lines and had a few trades go against me because of this. However the damage was really done in these instances by then not exiting the trades as early as I should have and letting the losses run rather than cutting them off early (within 10 to 20%). Through this I learnt the importance of calling through to the Traders Circle desk when I find myself in a negative position. Having a second or even third or fourth pair of eyes on a trade can help remove the emotion experienced when in a losing trade and help you make rational decisions that fall within your own money management plan. Lesson learnt: Communication is critical.
This in turn leads me to a second critical mistake which was breaking my own trade management plan by having too much (greater than 20% of my trading bank) invested on a single trade. In this instance I had the trade go against me. Although I exited at an appropriate time the loss had still taken a decent chunk out of my trading bank. Lesson learnt: Protect your capital.
What are some of your golden rules?
If in doubt stay/get out. Sometimes enthusiasm or impatience can mean you end up talking yourself into doing a trade that you’re not really 100% sure about. In my experience these have been the trades to go against me so I have learnt that sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t do. If I’m still not sure I will often cross check it with the trading desk. Often they have some information I may have missed or overlooked which helps me be clear on whether I should be getting into or out of a trade.
Take responsibility for your trading. Something I have witnessed throughout the years in others and in myself is the temptation to put the responsibility of your trades on someone else. It’s easy that way, as then you have someone to blame if it goes against you. However the people I have seen do this rarely become successful traders. Even when it comes to recommended trades, I believe you have to take full responsibility for your actions. No one gets it right 100% of the time, but if you take responsibility for your own trades you’re more likely to make consistent good decisions that you agree with which in turn leads to the development of long term success.
What’s the number one thing traders can do to improve their performance?
I think the main thing that people can do to improve their performance is to make sure to communicate with the TradersCircle team. It is this communication that can help you overcome any insecurities you might have in placing a trade, knowing when to exit or any other aspects of trading or money management you may wish to grow and develop.
However this alone will not be sufficient. ‘Practice makes perfect’ so practice either through placing live trades or even paper trading is an invaluable aspect of your growth and development as a trader. Some of my best trading lessons have come through experimenting on paper with riskier trades. They rarely pay off and so it is through this I have learnt that you are best to stick to your rules as develop excellence there rather than going for the ‘get rich quick’ trades.
Finally, what is core to a trader’s success?
Trading successfully over the long term is not a matter of tossing a coin and hoping for the best. You have to have a disciplined approach that is based on market understanding and having a set of rules to guide you to making consistent successful decisions. This can only be developed with practice and time.
The other thing is focus on the actions not the outcome. By focusing on how to trade well and develop your money management skills, financial success is secured. So don’t worry if you’re not where you want to be at in a week, a month or a year. Keep the focus on your development and getting the direction right. A quote I read recently that I think really applies is: ‘you never see a small child fall over and say “you know what….?! This walking thing is not for me!!”’.
This defines my approach to trading. If you keep working on it soon enough standing becomes walking, walking becomes running and off you go. So it’s as much about the process as it is the outcome. The falls along the way are just the little something extra you need to practice standing up again. They too get less frequent over time. So enjoy it and most importantly have fun.