Author Archives: JLTrader

A Key Difference Between Average Traders And Professionals

First off, let me emphasize that by professional traders I mean people who actually trade, have done so successfully for years or even decades and have the track-records to prove it. Your run-of-the-mill internet marketer selling trading courses, indicators or seminars obviously doesn’t fit the bill.

Many people would be inclined to say that intelligence is a key difference. After all, the finance industry attracts some of the brightest minds that come out of universities every year, right ? I’ll show you a Market Wizard’s answer to that:

How important is intelligence in trading?
I haven’t seen much correlation between good trading and intelligence. Some outstanding traders are quite intelligent, but a few aren’t. Many outstandingly intelligent people are horrible traders. Average intelligence is enough. Beyond that, emotional makeup is more important – William Eckhardt in New Market Wizards

There you have it, emotional makeup. Also known as discipline or self-control. These might just sound as overused words for people familiar with trading books/articles. So to better explain their meaning I’ll make an analogy to fitness, an activity similar in many ways to trading.

If you think about it, assuming you’re overweight and want to get a lean body: in theory it is not a difficult process (with very few exceptions where genetics or medical problems play a major part). You just have to keep a negative balance between your food intake (which should have the right mix of carbohydrates, proteins and fats) and your energy expenditure. Add a few sessions of cardio and weightlifting per week and that’s about it.

Why do we have then so many people that jump from one magic diet to another, buy the latest ‘slim in 7 days’ DVD or hire personal trainers and still don’t manage to achieve medium and long term results ? Because of lack of self-control. Sooner or later they lose the discipline to watch their diet and exercise. On the other hand, the fitness professional sticks to his or her plan week in and week out.

Back to trading now: let’s assume you have developed a strategy with an edge and that it fits who you are. By the way, this is an ongoing process, not something you do today and you’re set for life – one of the reasons why buying robots and automatic systems to get rich is just a mirage.

Will you be disciplined enough to stick to it ? Or will you just give it up in the middle of a draw-down in search for something different ? Will you have the self control to follow your plan every day and every week ? Like for instance, doing the chart analysis required, respecting the risk management rules, doing research and so on. Or will you just do everything on a whim ?

The way your trading activity answers these questions will be a clear indication of the path you’re on.

Why I Disagree With Jarratt Davis’ Stance On Technical Analysis

Jarratt Davis has an interesting story: he started as a Forex retail trader some 10-11 years ago,  soon after that got headhunted by a small startup hedge-fund, and for the past few years he’s been head of trading strategy at Smile Global Management. He’s also involved in training and educating traders via his website. I consider him to be one of the very few credible people in this arena.

Having said that, I’d like to explain why I disagree with some of the things mentioned in his homepage video.

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You Are Losing Money In Forex Because Of Technical Analysis

That’s a pretty inaccurate statement in my opinion. Most retail traders lose because of a combination of poor risk management and get-rich-quick mentality that makes them regard Forex as some magic land where normal rules don’t apply.

Technical analysis, I think, has a great deal that is right and a great deal that is mumbo jumbo. There is a great deal of hype attached to technical analysis by some technicians who claim that it predicts the future. Technical analysis tracks the past; it does not predict the future. You have to use your own intelligence to draw conclusions about what the past activity of some traders may say about the future activity of other traders.

For me, technical analysis is like a thermometer. Fundamentalists who say they are not going to pay any attention to the charts are like a doctor who says he’s not going to take a patient’s temperature. But, of course, that would be sheer folly. If you are a responsible participant in the market, you always want to know where the market is—whether it is hot and excitable, or cold and stagnant. You want to know everything you can about the market to give you an edge. – Bruce Kovner in Market Wizards

To give you an example, I think the generic term ‘technical analysis’ is similar to another generic term like ‘drugs’. Just as the same word can mean life saving medication or killer substances like heroin, technical analysis can mean a simple chart with support and resistance levels or it can mean this:

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Jarratt Davis states that central banks’ rate decisions are the most important factor in the movement of currencies. Generally that’s true, at least in the medium and long term. But even then you have cases like 2008, when the ECB was tightening and the Fed was easing its monetary policy and despite that, the EUR/USD fell through the floor from 1.60 to 1.24 within just 3 months. Why ? Because another major factor, the financial crisis and subsequent forced deleveraging took precedence over the central banks’ plans.

Another example, during the FED tightening cycle between 2004-2006, the dollar fell hard in 2004 because of concerns about a swelling budget and trade deficit. Or was it because of the global recovery and the roaring bull-market in commodities ? Who knows. The fact that USD rose in 2005 despite the 2 and a half years of FED tightening was due to a temporary tax law that encouraged US multinationals to repatriate profits that year.

The key takeaway from the above is that there are always a multitude of factors that ultimately drive the currency markets. And the lower the time frame, the less relevance central banks have and the murkier the explanations after the fact get (my favorite, ‘it was a technical move’).

Following the news and trying to guess how they’re going to influence the rate decisions might be a valid trading strategy that works for Jarratt and his students. After all, there are many ways to make money in the markets. But saying that watching the fundamentals is the only way to trade, that this is how institutions and professionals do it,  and if you’re different you’ll lose money, is false.

For instance, CTAs are professional money managers that collectively have billions in assets under management. You can see here their performance and AUM. One of the best known among them is Jerry Parker, a former turtle under Richard Dennis. He’s been managing money since 1988 and currently his Chesapeake Capital Corporation: Diversified Program has $218M under management. Below is a quote from their pitch-book:

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We evaluate historical prices only. We do not use any fundamental data.

Don’t Buy Trading Signals Based on Hype – FxRenew

fr1Via an article on ForexLive, I came across Sam Eder and his website FxRenew, where he sells Forex signals (which come with free trading education). There are so many wrong things on that site – all hat and no cattle as the saying goes –  that I felt I have to write an article to address at least some of them.

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Signals are a Superior Form of Trading

This is grade A, 100% pure BS. Just think about it for a second. You’re not able to develop a trading strategy so you have to rely on ‘experienced veterans’ to tell you when to enter or exit a trade. All of a sudden, you’re now such an expert risk manager that through position sizing you’re able to attain a trading performance far superior to that of actual traders. Say what ?!

Benefit From a Track Record of 70% Accuracy in Forecasting the Direction of Financial Markets

First off, this track-record is not shown. Secondly, the ‘accuracy’ metric is totally irrelevant. It’s very easy to lose money even if you have high accuracy : for one, making a forecast isn’t the same with actually putting a trade on. Secondly, the market doesn’t go in straight lines – you can be right on the direction but easily get stopped out by the zigs and zags  of the market.

We’re informed that the traders behind the signals (including an anonymous one that goes by the 888 handle) all have  20+ years of experience with banks. Yet, they don’t even have one year’s worth of verified track-record (no one is asking them to disclose their private accounts, but how about the track-record of the signals offered for sale ?). I’m not at all impressed with decades of experience with banks (if that’s even true, good luck in checking out an anonymous guy).

To give you an example, imagine that there’s this patient who needs brain surgery. There are a lot of people who have 20+ years of hospital experience (from janitors, to managers, to chest surgeons) but our patient needs a particular person with specific skills (brain surgeon), otherwise he’s dead. What good is a guy with 20+ years of banking experience who worked in sales or any other field unrelated to actual trading ? He’s going to kill your account just as sure as a hospital front desk manager would kill a patient if she were to attempt brain surgery.

7-Day Free Trial

That’s just bait to attract people unfamiliar with what trading really is. People who mistake buying a trading service for subscribing to an online magazine. There’s no way to properly analyze a strategy after just 7 days and the owners of the site know that very well.

 To sum up: FXRenew is a nicely designed site, full of big words and unsubstantiated claims, all geared towards  persuading inexperienced customers into buying Forex trading signals. I hope that after reading this, you know better than to let appearances make decisions for you.

Following Forex Trading Signals Is Dangerous To Your Wealth

I’m not going to refer in this article to obvious scams, like those robots attached to fake track-records at dubious brokers (Synergy FX for instance). What I’d like to point out is that even the signal sellers who, for all we know, act in good faith, are in 99% (there’s that saying, ‘never say never’) of cases just accidents waiting to happen.

The first thing that should be kept in mind is one major flaw of this business model –  the interests of the signals seller and those of the person who copies them are not aligned. When the signal seller makes money based on the volumes traded by his followers and not based on a percentage of the actual profits he made for them, you know there’s going to be trouble ahead.

The other major problem, not as obvious as the first one, is that the average investor doesn’t have the time or the know-how required to properly analyze the track-records and the statistics on sites like Myfxbook. Most people will look just at gain/draw-down and the higher the ratio, the more attractive the system will appear.

Well, there are many funny sayings about statistics, such as: ‘there are lies, damned lies and statistics’ or ‘statistics are like bikinis; what they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital’.

That’s the very case with the gain/draw-down statistic. It reveals that up to the present time the strategy has made money. But because it’s backward looking and limited, it conceals the vital part, how the strategy is likely to do in the future. To give you an example: let’s assume a crazy person plays Russian roulette (where you load one bullet into one chamber of a revolver, spin the cylinder and then shoot at your head) and survives the first 8 rounds. Would you call this low risk ? Just seeing a gain/draw-down chart for this activity, it would appear so. But if you actually look beyond that and see what the guy is doing, you’ll instantly realize both how misleading the statistic is and that you can’t put your money on this guy.

In order to find out who is playing financial Russian roulette (unaware perhaps), you need to know the Value at Risk (VaR), which is a risk measure that takes into account the frequency, leverage and duration of individual trades and also the market conditions (like volatility and correlation between pairs). For the time being, in the retail space, only Darwinex calculates VaR  and they also standardize all investable strategies (called DARWINs) for 20% VaR. For those interested in this important topic, here is a webinar addressing Value at Risk in more detail.

And now I’ll give you an example of  the hidden danger I mentioned above. This signal provider is ranked high (no.7) by Myfxbook in their auto trade systems feature. I chose him on the following additional criteria:

  • manual trader (all other things being equal, I believe a one year track record of a human is more honest than that of an EA. At least it shows there’s some work put in there, to watch the market, enter and close the trades. With an EA, it feels like analyzing the winning lottery ticket – the developer might have bought/developed 20 EAs a year ago and just got lucky with one.
  •  the history is shown
  • there’s at least 1 year of trading
  • no gaming of the gain/absolute gain system
  • I got intrigued by a name such as SPM Capital Management :)

With a 96% return for the past 12 months and a draw-down of only 14.5%, what’s not to like ? I looked up the name and found him on this forum. Seeing how this guy talks was the first sign that he might just be a lucky survivor of a year’s worth of playing Russian roulette:

In the last 12 months I have almost doubled the account, and in the next 12 months I intend to triple it. – post no.7

Digging more deeply into the track-record what do we notice ? Open trades are a mess – 17 trades with no stop loss and several being just averaging down. Going through the history, the same tendency to avoid closing losing trades and instead wait for the price to come back is evident. So far he has been able do dodge the bullet, but this by no means implies safety going forward.

To conclude: I strongly believe that following/copying forex signals is a money losing proposition in the medium and long term. In the short term, it’s a coin toss at best.

The Live Price Action Confidence Trick

urlI’ve touched on this subject before, but after witnessing my old pal :) Chris Capre using this trick twice within a week,  I believe a full article is now warranted.

First off, you should take a couple of minutes to learn what a shell game is, if you don’t know already. I still remember my only encounter so far with fraudsters of this type. I was traveling by coach from Germany to Romania some nine years ago and in early morning, must’ve been around 6 AM, we stopped at a motorway gas station in Hungary. I went inside and on return to the coach, there was this group of passengers surrounding two guys who were working the shell game. A woman appeared to be winning, which encouraged a few passengers to start playing. Long story short, none of them won anything – some lost 50 euros a piece with one woman losing 500 euros. I still remember asking myself how could these people be so gullible ? How could they think that some stranger is waiting at 6 AM in the middle of nowhere to hand them free cash ?

Well, after watching Chris Capre’s latest live trades, first thing that came into my mind was the shell game happening  mentioned above. Let’s discuss the (Video) +100 Pips Live Price Action Trade on NZDUSD article and you’ll understand why.

You’ll notice that unlike the videos done in early 2015 where he was more subtle, now Capre drills into the viewers that he uses a real account.

As you can see, it says real over here. That would say demo, if it was a demo account, it would say demo.

Why, indeed, that’s a REAL account, but don’t break the champagne just yet. What Capre fails to inform us (using a sleight of hand just like the shell game con men) is that it only takes $50 to open a live account with FXCM. We’re also not shown any account number or lot size, so it’s very possible that either a different account is used for each video or the same $50 account is replenished. With the money from just one course for which  these videos act as advertising, he can open 6 different REAL accounts.

Now, even if Capre actually trades a meaningful account (which I doubt) and those weren’t just lucky shots for the camera, there is another problem. One has to be disingenuous to cherry-pick some winning trades in order to show what a skillful trader one allegedly is. If you truly want to prove something, no one stops you from actually documenting a continuous series of trades.

You can learn how to find these trades. You can learn how to make these trades and that’s what I teach you in my price action course.

Almost anyone can handle trades that win right out of the gate, but how about those 5-6 trades out of 10 that end up as losers ? Or does Capre only have winners, like his collection of live price action videos imply ? If that’s not presenting forex trading through rose tinted glasses, then I don’t know what is.

A last point: one might say: yeah ok, but what about the trade analysis ? Isn’t there any value ? Well, in my opinion the right question to ask is this: why would I bother to learn from a thoroughly dishonest person ?

The Logic of Profit Pyramiding in Trading

I believe that pyramiding of profits is a poorly understood concept among the great majority of traders. It is certainly much less used in practice than its exact opposite, averaging down, also known as adding to a losing position.

Reading Reminiscences of a Stock Operator, a book which is almost 100 years old, one notices that even then pyramiding wasn’t a trading novelty:

He sold short one hundred shares of Lake Shore. That was the time Bill Travers hammered the market, in 1875. My friend Roberts put out that Lake Shore at exactly the right time and kept selling it on the way down as he had been wont to do in the old successful days before he forsook Pat Hearne’s system and instead listened to hope’s whispers. Well, sir, in four days of successful pyramiding, Roberts’ account showed him a profit of fifteen thousand dollars.

So why isn’t it more popular today ? To answer this question, let’s see the two psychological prerequisites for successfully implementing pyramiding:

First of all, patience. A winning trade has to be open for a certain period of time to accumulate profit before you can start adding to it.

Secondly, lack of fear. In other words, you shouldn’t be itching to close an initial winning trade and book the profit, for fear that the market will reverse and take it back.

How long does it take a trader to develop the above qualities ? Years. About the same amount of time needed to develop the technical understanding of the markets required to carry out a successful pyramid trade.

So you see, because it’s actually work, it doesn’t lend itself to the usual marketing targeted at traders: sexy, get-rich-quick or no-brain-required. I guess that’s the answer why you’ll hardly ever hear about pyramiding from your local trading guru.

The point of this article is to raise awareness and get the readers to think about this concept. As with anything in trading, there’s no magic formula to tell us exactly when and how much to pyramid. Nevertheless, it has produced trading fortunes in the past and undoubtedly will continue to do so in the future.

ASIC Regulated Forex Broker SynergyFX Appears To Be A Scam

This is an update of the Rev Trader Pro review that I wrote back in January. A few days ago, via a comment left on that article, I found out that the person hiding under the fictitious name Doug Price has launched at least two more EAs since the beginning of the year: Channel Trader Pro and Vortex Trader Pro.

The modus operandi for these two robots is very similar to Rev Trader Pro: create false trading histories showing thousands percent returns, link the accounts to Myfxbook using ASIC regulated SynergyFX (which should inspire trust) and sell this personal ATM to gullible people for $800.

It should be very easy to realize that the track-records are fabricated. In the case of Vortex Trader Pro, you can notice the consecutive ticket numbers, at least up to the point when the system was published on Myfxbook. For Channel Trader Pro, the ticket numbers are in a random order, and not ascending as they should be.

The common denominator in this story is the Australian forex broker SynergyFX. It raised red flags when I first noticed the undeniably fabricated statement for Rev Trader Pro. Now two more shenanigans of the same type ? What’s going on here ?

I decided to send them an email to ask for explanations. I received an automated reply that they’ll get back to me in 24 hours. 72 hours later, no word from them. I’m not surprised though, because soon after I sent the email, I noticed on their website under ‘Promotions’ tab that they offer every client a license for ‘the top performing EA Rev Trader Pro’. How about that ! :)

email

Email to SynergyFX

sy

Promotions page

So naturally, my initial thought, that this ‘Doug Price’ character somehow managed to manipulate their live feed unbeknownst to them, went out the window. Synergy FX has been on the scam since the very start. I think this is a fact that can’t be argued with. But how can a regulated broker stoop to such a practice ? I’m afraid I don’t have an answer to that.

Browsing their website, I also noticed that they entered the money management business. Although the funds management site was launched only a few months ago, they claim to service hundreds of clients and have millions in AUM. Some (impressive) performance numbers are listed, but by now who’s naive enough to trust a word they say ?

sy1

I’m going to forward a copy of this article to ASIC, the regulator of SynergyFX. In the meantime, if you consider doing business with this broker, I would strongly advise against it. Better be safe now, than sorry later.

Update 11/01/2016

No response from Synergy FX to the email I sent them more than 3 months ago. ASIC got back to me on 06/10/2015 saying that they’ll make an initial assessment and so fort, but no news since then.

GoForexPro – An Insult To Serious Forex Traders

A reader of my site asked me what I think of GoForexPro.com and the guy behind it, William (Bill) Young. He sent me a couple of  links to forums where Mr. Young is active: stevehopwoodforex and donnaforex.

I concentrated on donnaforex because I was familiar with the name and the thread was half as big as on the other forum. The happy-go-lucky, look how many pips we’re making atmosphere of that thread quickly became bothersome. But what concerned me the most was the fact that Donna, the administrator of that forum, appeared to be part of the merry crowd and endorse Bill Young (known as boldtrader there).

But what is wrong with this self-described professional trader who has supposedly produced more ‘Master Traders’ than any other firm ? :) Leaving aside the fact that no self-respecting trader talks in terms of pips, but in terms of risk-adjusted performance, have a look at this  sales page or the hyped-up content of his website. If that’s not enough to put you off, let’s quote some gems from his forum post #115:

This is a FREE program. Period. You have nothing to lose by learning how to trade the FX1 system and it variations. If you don’t like it;.. then don’t use it. It is FREE.. several of the indicators are FREE.For years, traders are using this system.  It is used by large fund managers. It is used by professional traders.

I fully understand that you want to try to make sure that the “system is real”. Trust me.. it is. If it was not, I would not be offering it and making it available for thousands of traders to learn. I am a professional trader for many years. Do not even try to question my legitimacy or the authority of the system being offered. I have a very good reputation in this industry for many years. You can come into the room, sit, do nothing, learn, make pips, and then go home and enjoy your day with pips in your pocket.

There are a couple of things that jump right at you. First, this ‘there’s nothing to lose, it’s FREE stuff’ attitude. This is a recurring theme you find about forums or sites like Fxkeys.com. On the contrary, there’s potentially a lot to lose. And I mean not only time, but also money – when you either fall for whatever the guy is selling as an upgrade of the free material or start applying the ‘free teachings’ on a live account.

Secondly, when you’re asked (normally you shouldn’t even have to be asked, you should offer it from the get-go) for a proof that the system you’re teaching is profitable (by linking an account to Myfxbook in this case) your answer is ‘don’t even try to question my legitimacy’ ? LOL. You don’t fuckin’ say. Well excuse me Mr. Soros for bothering you.

The question remained, what is Donna’s involvement in all this ? Has she gone to the dark side ? So I sent her an email and asked to find out her side of the story. She replied really fast and I must say she comes across as a nice lady. She admitted that the forum thread looks pretty bad and that she’s an affiliate for Bill Young. I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, she might genuinely believe the guy’s own press. While I do think she does real damage by promoting this joker, I can’t really get upset with her because she was upfront and didn’t try to BS me.

To sum up: when you see a self-claimed professional forex trader cheerleading numbers of pips made by his system, walk away. When he doesn’t even allow you to ask for proof or question his authority, start running. Otherwise, you’ll just waste your time and potentially your money as well.

The Forex Teachers With Less Than 2 (Two) Years Trading Experience

The trading training/coaching racket comprises basically two distinct groups: on one hand, we have either lone sellers of courses or at the most a couple who joined forces, like these clowns I wrote about back in April. On the other hand, there are ‘training’ companies, which due to their reach and the very expensive ‘education’ they sell, are many times more lethal.

Why even address this subject ? I mean, if one is that dumb (as in – you don’t need any trading experience, buy this coaching package for £10.000 and with a £5.000 account you’ll recoup the cost in six months – dumb) to fall for the selling pitches of these companies,  he/she won’t pay any attention to what I write here.

Because it’s personal. If, by some miracle, I can prevent just one person from giving money to these scammers, I’ll feel even more vindicated. But the main reason is that I feel insulted, as a trader, whenever I stumble upon such snake oil salesmen.

Sometimes people will ask me whether they can spend one weekend with me so I can show them how I do this stuff. Do you know what a tremendous insult this is? It’s like my saying to a brain surgeon, “If you have a few extra days, I’d like you to teach me brain surgery.” – Mark Minervini in Stock Market Wizards

I believe that raising awareness by writing about this subject and continuing to expose these charlatans is the only way to fight them.

Perhaps one of the most well known ‘master traders’ is Greg Secker, founder of Knowledge To Action and Learn To Trade. Listening to this guy on BBC’s investigation of his ‘training business’ reminded me of Ben Affleck in Boiler Room (only with a British accent). To quote from that movie, this guy could sell bubble gum in the lock-jaw ward at Bellvue. :)

If you go to Learn To Trade website (either the UK or the Australian version), alarm bells start ringing loudly right from the homepage:

Free Workshop
Discover how to make an immediate income through Forex trading.
Learn Forex
Make money at anytime, anywhere, trading currencies.
Free eBook
Learn the formula for success direct from Master Trader Greg Secker.

Really ? You don’t fuckin’ say !

Both the BBC and The Guardian have written on this obnoxious charlatan (they didn’t call him that because they’re politically correct). What I would like to add are a couple of pictures:

mo

Learn To Trade UK

be

Learn To Trade Australia

You see that they practically give the scam away: some of the so-called Forex teachers/coaches they employ have less than two years trading experience ! Imagine that ! But I guess their way of thinking is to present trading as such an easy endeavor to get into, that after 1-2 years, you not only get to master it, but you’re able to teach others too.

Why You Should Always Check Your Trading Guru On Archive.org

I don’t know how many people are aware of the Internet Archive available over at Archive.org. It’s a wonderful project which offers free access to a collection of archived web pages, among many other things. What this means is that we can use the  service to check how previous versions of websites used to look like.

While you can certainly have fun with it – going down the memory lane and realizing how much the internet has changed – for the purposes of this article I want to concentrate on its research capability.

Think about it, most (forex) trading gurus are so deep behind a smoke screen of web marketing that we don’t really know anything about them. How did they actually look like before they got a chance to put some lipstick on the pig ? :) This is where Archive.org becomes invaluable.

Some highlights from my own research:

  • most of the courses I’ve checked have been seriously affected by deflation, ie you can buy now for $300 the exact course (or its ‘improved’ version) that was sold for $400 a few years ago
  • courses with limited seats each month are now sold without any such impediment
  • the same ‘big hat no cattle’ style, ie professional trader, authority, master, bla bla with unverified testimonials singing praise to the best thing since sliced bread but no verified track-record
  • spelling mistakes that went uncorrected for years – and we’re not talking about a non-native English speaker here

mis your-youre

  • ‘just this month’ special discount of 20%-40% that in actuality is repeated every month :)
  • clear attempts at manipulating the search engines by repeatedly using key words like ‘price action’. I just wish I could get in touch with Larry Page from Google, show him the situation and get this impostor’s site (yeah, you guessed, I’m talking about Nial Fuller) removed from any search results:

nf

Hopefully I’ve managed to get you excited about Archive.org. So next time you’re interested in buying a trading service/product, instead of reading the testimonials on the website (a futile activity anyway), check out the emperor’s previous clothes. You might be in for a big surprise. :)