The Mirage of Set and Forget Trading Systems

By | May 20, 2016

What would you think if someone came up to you and said: buy my $300 course (only today you can get it for $275 :) ) and spend just 10 minutes a day and you’ll become a top lawyer or doctor. All sane people will just tell this guy to get lost. But replace  lawyer with trader and many otherwise intelligent persons will answer something like: that sounds great! and it’s discounted too! where do I sign-up ? :)

If you want to grow your savings, nowadays the access to professional traders and asset managers is greater and cheaper than ever. Starting with mere hundreds or at the most with a few thousands, you can invest in all sorts of mutual funds, index funds or liquid alternatives. Which ones are the best and how an allocation should be set up depends very much on who you are and what investment goals and horizons you have. Anyway, these aspects are beside the scope of this article. The point I’m trying to get across is as follows: if you have no interest in the markets, no passion for trading and you’re not willing to dedicate time to learn, why not let professionals do the job ?

I feel my success comes from my love of the markets. I am not a casual trader. It is my life. I have a passion for trading. It is not merely a hobby or even a career choice for me. There is no question that this is what I am supposed to do with my life. – Ed Seykota

The secret to being successful from a trading perspective is to have an indefatigable and an undying and unquenchable thirst for information and knowledge. – Paul Tudor Jones

Do you really think you’ll get better results than professionals with a so-called set and forget system you only spend 10 minutes a day on? Achieving a good long term risk-adjusted performance requires a set of skills that takes time to develop. This is true for all professions, and trading is no different.

A very similar situation can be found in the fitness equipment and health supplements business. Ads along these lines abound: use vibrating belt XYZ 30 minutes a day (while watching your favorite TV series and eating ice cream :) ) and take these pills and you’ll too look just like the lean, muscular, tanned and sexy models that advertise them. Only the most delusional people will buy into these ads: those fit men and women not only spend hours in the gym and tanning salons and watch everything they eat – they have the discipline to do it day after day and week after week.

3 thoughts on “The Mirage of Set and Forget Trading Systems

  1. Adam

    Set and forget is doable after spending few years (not months) figuring out the system that matches trader’s psychology make up.

    I, for example trade daily time frame only… So I set my sell/buy stops, SL and TP after NY closes, and check again after 24hrs. Very very boring… But it’s working for me. That’s set and forget…for 24 hrs though :-)

    I trained myself to let go of the need to control outcomes, we all know that we can’t control outcomes on an intellectual level, but it’s another beast to actually consistently practice it.

    Symptoms of illusion of control are for example: checking charts of live trades frequently, cutting trades close to hit SL/TP (saving money/making money before it disappear), adjusting SL/TP levels, constantly thinking about live trades, checking mobile phones on the go, being glued to the screen…etc

    1. JLTrader Post author

      Good point. If we were to make an analogy, trading is like climbing a very high mountain – after a few years, you’re past the steepest part, but still have to keep an eye on the process and be disciplined – otherwise you’re in for trouble.

  2. Bill W

    Hilarious, to believe you’ll become a professional in such a competitive arena after reading a course bought off the internet. A fool and his money are soon parted.


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