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jackb

Paul Tudor Jones V. Dr. Alexander Elder

Doubling Down With A Loser?  

25 members have voted

  1. 1. Doubling Down With A Loser?

    • Yeah, no biggie. Can't say I won't use this when warranted.
      4
    • PTJ has it right. I have no need to throw good money after bad.
      18
    • Double Down? Shoot, I'm all for tripling, quadrupling, etc until I'm proved right.
      1
    • Money management...what's that?
      2


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Just got Elder's latest email and I was left a bit slack jawed after reading it. Here's some pertinent excerpts:

 

Today I would like to look into one of the techniques popular among experienced day-traders – doubling down on a losing position. This brings down the average cost and allows you to get out of a losing trade at a profit. This technique is absolutely deadly in inexperienced hands – all it will do is double up your losses. It is only recommended for experienced traders with excellent discipline. First point – doubling down is only recommended for relatively small-size losing trades. If you are in a large enough trade that the loss is stressing you – then you absolutely should not add to that trade and increase your stress level. Doubling down is acceptable only when you feel relaxed and unperturbed, even while your trade is under water. This is a key factor that almost everybody overlooks – doubling down is not just a technical trick; it is acceptable only for relatively small, unstressful trades. Next, the time to double up is when your losing long trade is hanging just above a bottom at which you are determined to draw a firm line. You must say: my hard stop goes here, and if my trade slides down to this level, I am out, automatically.

 

To repeat my rules for doubling up:

• It is acceptable only for relatively small positions. If the size of your open loss has you feeling stressed, then definitely no doubling.

• Double up only after you see good technical signals

• Place a hard stop on both halves of the trade as soon as you add the second position – a must!

• Handle both positions as a single trade, monitor its average price, and get out as soon as you cut your loss.

 

Contrast this with Paul Tudor Jones' statement: "Only losers add to losers.:

 

Let's see how TL members feel about this topic...

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There are two parts to it:

 

- It is something that can cause people trouble if it is an emotional response to a currently losing trade rather than part of the plan.

 

- To add it to a plan you need to do the stats. Entering low will have a poorer win rate than entering higher (you miss all the winners that take off from a higher point) but in return your loss is smaller and your win is bigger. So, as with each potential entry do the expectancies. Also ask yourself: if entering initially has a win rate of 65% then given a low entry will have a win rate of 40% or 30% (say), would I be doing this trade by itself if I hadn't already invested in a (now losing) position.

 

If the entry low down isn't something you'd do normally then you shouldn't double up (lower win rate, fewer trades per day, but higher win/loss). Something to test is "what happens if I buy the stop loss + a couple of ticks" on every trade I might have entered?

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Pretty sure there are a couple of occasions in the famous PTJ video where he is buying into a market that is moving against him. Of course I could be completely mistaken. Wasn't there a segment where he is buying a falling Deutschmark all day? Finally stops out with a fairly substantial loss. Dunno it's a while since I watched it.

 

I guess it depends on your definition of 'loser' if price is still in your 'buy zone' (even if lower) then perhaps it is not a loser.

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There is a difference between adding to a loser and scaling into a trade as it moves against you. Adding to a loser is often unplanned and violates your risk-per-trade rules. However if your plan is to risk say 3 percent of your capital on a given trade and your plan is to scale in at 1 percent intervals then this is fine.

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There is a difference between adding to a loser and scaling into a trade as it moves against you. Adding to a loser is often unplanned and violates your risk-per-trade rules. However if your plan is to risk say 3 percent of your capital on a given trade and your plan is to scale in at 1 percent intervals then this is fine.

 

In which case, you have to accept that there will be trades that go in your favor that have only 1/3 ( simpled version of your example) of your position on. On the other hand, each stop out will be with your max position.

 

So, your winner is going to have to go 3 times as far as your loser to break even on a day where you have a single scale winner and a max loser. That doesn't sound like love.

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There is a difference between adding to a loser and scaling into a trade as it moves against you. Adding to a loser is often unplanned and violates your risk-per-trade rules. However if your plan is to risk say 3 percent of your capital on a given trade and your plan is to scale in at 1 percent intervals then this is fine.

 

Exactly. PTJ had a right hand man that did the analysis, they would agree they wanted to be long x DM and then PTJ would get busy 'working' the order. If you are a buy side trader working a large order your job is to get filled at the best possible average price.

 

It's pretty obvious. Is it an 'oh shoot' emotional response or is it a planned entry where you are fully aware of the risk parameters throughout the process.

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It's entirely system dependent. Some systems - Never! Some systems it's ok, even part of the game.

 

For systems where it is ok, fully "Doubling down" is usually not the optimal concept. Adding to / building the position is a more accurate description of the proper maneveur.

 

Also, generally speaking, this maneuver is best implemented where the fills are close by, generally in the same as yet incomplete small and short term swing. It is not recommended when there is already a large disparity btwn first fills and where price is now - ie if the original setup is no longer valid, if it's clearly a loser, de nile is rising, and you should have alreay stopped out. That’s what PTJ was talking about and if you haven’t been fortunate enough to fully learn that lesson yet, let me tell that is a wonderful way to pile a whole heap of sustained pain on yo own head...:helloooo:

 

Find attached a recent example of what I think Elder is talking about. Yesterday, I put on a high leverage very short term hedge of a large percentage of my silver derivative long trades. (Several ‘cycles’ were completing but the tipping point for me was by chance walking by a TV at 5 am and overhearing the network talking heads yapping PM’s up “investors losing trust in yadayada and putting their trust in gold” etc etc. It was ‘intuitive’ - pls blve me, I rarely of rarely of rarely ever use broadcast media for cues) Anyway, the bottom triangle was a mkt order fill at around 29.99. The square above it was a “doubling down” limit order placed shortly after the market fill. The right upper triangle was the fill of the limit at around 30.16 in the next 15 minutes bar. All fills within the same small swing / setup is what I think Elder is talking about generally… don’t think he’s talking about doing the first entry then doubling down if price then proceeded to 31 ( or to generalize, past where should already be stopped out ) . I do similar much shorter time frame type 'doubling down' / position building in the indexes in certain conditions. Happens roughly 3 of the days of any week... may post an example if I have time...

 

Again - It's entirely system dependent.... in addition

the key word in Elder's article is "...experienced... "

dubbledown.thumb.jpg.6fc21a67909cf5a66779cd2d7e034e83.jpg

Edited by zdo

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Personally I try never to double down (the times I have have always been costly if not from the monetary points - from a developing bad habits point of view)

What is interesting is that it is always soooooo easy to double down on the loosers but sooooo hard to buy more when you are winning...... and I think this is the crucial element for me.

The offset for the idea -- "This brings down the average cost and allows you to get out of a losing trade at a profit" - is that it also ensures that if you are wrong your loss will much larger than planned....this to me does the damage, and creates bad habits.

 

If you are looking to enter in 1/3rds then you should be looking to do that for the winners as well, otherwise go all in. In this case you need to ensure the expected return is going to be sufficient to keep entering on winners. This is what most cant do as the need to take a profit is too strong.

Think about it in terms of trying to beat VWAP while building a position- if that becomes part of the plan then it makes it easier to get the head around, as you should look at average prices of entry as suggested when doubling down, so why not look at them when doubling up to have you maximum position size on ALREADY with a profit. (generally not so relevant to strict day traders I guess)

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I have excessively done this when I was scalping the nikkei and HSI. It works outstanding in high volatility conditions (like the start of the subprime debacle). Over the past year though I have altered things do it both ways, and that is to double/tripple down as long as the trade idea is still valid AND aggressively add to my winners. The market is fluid and dynamic, so I need to be as well.

 

With kind regards,

MK

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In which case, you have to accept that there will be trades that go in your favor that have only 1/3 ( simpled version of your example) of your position on. On the other hand, each stop out will be with your max position.

 

So, your winner is going to have to go 3 times as far as your loser to break even on a day where you have a single scale winner and a max loser. That doesn't sound like love.

 

Who says one can't scale in as price climbs as well?

 

What if the average trade nets 4 or more times risk of a full stop out? There are profesionals who scale in. There is a million ways to successfully trade and even more ways to lose. :)

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Who says one can't scale in as price climbs as well?

 

What if the average trade nets 4 or more times risk of a full stop out? There are profesionals who scale in. There is a million ways to successfully trade and even more ways to lose. :)

 

Scaling in as price climbs makes more sense to me. I don't like adding when price is falling. Simply a personal preference.

 

Professionals are professionals until they run out of luck.

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Doubling down is an integral part of my trading when the entries are outside in trades.

 

I buy bottoms and sell tops against a context that tells me clearly when I'm wrong. Sometimes the entry is a little early and I double down and exit the doubled down portion at the original entry price.

 

Unless the trade is clearly wrong, stopping yourself out because of price shaking the tree makes it hard to make money. Those unnecessary stop outs are expensive. The medicine for too early an entry in a good trade is to double down.

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Again, the efficacy of ‘doubling down‘ into losses is very system dependent. (and btw adding to winners is a little bit off this specific topic) Be careful of any posts, including mine, that are putting out tactics as if they are ubiquitous across all systems without even a hint of the type of system being used.

 

Blunt example of the system dependence – doubling down into retracements is generally were this works. However, double down against trends and see what happens! :)

 

Different systems, different setups yield different appropriateness of doubling down. Even Elder needed to be more specific about the system beneath his tactic of doubling down when price neared his initial stop loss. In some systems that would work. In others it would not help, and in some it would actually lead to blowup… without giving us system properties it would even be ok to start withdrawing the benefit of the doubt and to start raising questions about his initial entry placements and order types, etc.

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Doubling down is an integral part of my trading when the entries are outside in trades.

 

I buy bottoms and sell tops against a context that tells me clearly when I'm wrong. Sometimes the entry is a little early and I double down and exit the doubled down portion at the original entry price.

 

Unless the trade is clearly wrong, stopping yourself out because of price shaking the tree makes it hard to make money. Those unnecessary stop outs are expensive. The medicine for too early an entry in a good trade is to double down.

 

A lot of negative equity on a trade is a really good sign that you are wrong. You can always get out quickly and get back in if the trade is still good. I am referring mainly to day trades where time is of the essence.

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Elder is a trader as well. But, it is true that PTJ's results are certainly more public than Elder's and PTJ is managing other people's money which I'm not sure Elder does.

 

There's some real interesting perspectives being posted, as I hoped there would be.

 

One thing that seems to be running through a lot of the comments is "My definition of a losing trade is different than yours"? In particular, if I'm scaling in and haven't put my full position on, then I'm not yet able to really assess if it is a loser. I'm confident this wasn't the context Elder was talking about (in fact, the email I received from him walked through a specific trade...so, I'll go ahead and post that as well). This involves a trade that is clearly a loser.

 

What you'll note is that it comes off as if the double up was a "spur of the moment" decision. And thereafter he had to "draw a firm line" with respect to stopping out of the trade, which implies the trade blew through his original stop point; one that was apparently a "soft line." When I said I was left slack jawed, this is what I was referring to.

 

More importantly, he goes on to say that such a "technique" is popular among experienced daytraders (he didn't comment about whether these experienced daytraders were profitable). And that it's a fine strategy when you have small size on.

 

I think the last point is particularly problematic. If you get used to doubling on small size, that only lays the foundation to double on larger size.

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Elder:

 

Let me illustrate what I mean by showing a very recent trade – or rather a pair of trades.

 

On Thursday, November 18, I was catching up on my office work using my laptop, while running a few day-trades, one after another, on a big screen. The 25-minute chart of the December Euro (not shown) was in an uptrend, and I bought a pullback below value on the 5-minute chart at 1.3633. Then, before I could grab a quick profit, the Euro reversed and my trade went under water.

 

I monitored my growing loss, expecting a bounce. Finally I observed a bullish divergence and I decided to double up and put a hard stop at 1.3582. I bought my second contract at 1.3584, meaning my risk on the second trade was only 2 ticks.

 

Prices rallied from that bullish divergence and I sold both contracts at 1.3617. My loss on the first contract was reduced to -$200, my gain on the second became $412.50, for a total gain of $212.50 ($201 after commissions and fees). Had I just banged out of the first contract at any time during that slide, I’d have taken a loss. Doubling up at a good spot turned a losing trade into a winner.

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"...part of the plan..." or not

Kiwi's first response to OP is the best. If 'doubling down' is part of the plan, the conditions triggering it, the number of times you would do it in a trade, etc are all pretty firmed up...

 

re "before I could grab a quick profit" and "observed a bullish divergence and I decided to double up " and "put a hard stop " Yep, jack, it looks like Elder is shooting from the hip a little bit... but fx trading can be a little bit more amenable to that kind of 'looseness' (ie discretionary) for some. I know I trade ndx's way differently than I do fx's - systems, setups, triggers, w/l ratios, win loss sizes, how I 'define a loser', timeframes, and 'doubling down' / adding to position tactics, number of times I will add to a loser etc etc (7 total entries is my limit in ndx's, have total size limits but no max limit to number of entries in fx, etc.)

 

Kiwi provided the keywords - "plan" and "stats". then with those as base, accumulate "experience".

 

...and, re 'emotional' if it is part of the plan for real, 'doubling down' / adding to the position 10 times and still getting stopped out on all of them shouldn't bother you in the least bit emotionally

 

... Also, I get suspicious of any 'doubling down' tactics where the object / intention is to 'get back to break even', etc. - although a few systems are amenable to it net net...

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zdo, when you're scaling in and the market is below the intial leg, do your subsequent entries always mirror the same size as the original position or do you ever play with the size of of subsequent legs (e.g., 1, 2, 4, etc.)? Reiterating, when the market is below the opening leg.

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"...part of the plan..." or not

Kiwi's first response to OP is the best. If 'doubling down' is part of the plan, the conditions triggering it, the number of times you would do it in a trade, etc are all pretty firmed up...

 

re "before I could grab a quick profit" and "observed a bullish divergence and I decided to double up " and "put a hard stop " Yep, jack, it looks like Elder is shooting from the hip a little bit... but fx trading can be a little bit more amenable to that kind of 'looseness' (ie discretionary) for some. I know I trade ndx's way differently than I do fx's - systems, setups, triggers, w/l ratios, win loss sizes, how I 'define a loser', timeframes, and 'doubling down' / adding to position tactics, number of times I will add to a loser etc etc (7 total entries is my limit in ndx's, have total size limits but no max limit to number of entries in fx, etc.)

 

Kiwi provided the keywords - "plan" and "stats". then with those as base, accumulate "experience".

 

...and, re 'emotional' if it is part of the plan for real, 'doubling down' / adding to the position 10 times and still getting stopped out on all of them shouldn't bother you in the least bit emotionally

 

... Also, I get suspicious of any 'doubling down' tactics where the object / intention is to 'get back to break even', etc. - although a few systems are amenable to it net net...

 

Whenever I have doubled up on a trade that went against me, it was impossible for me to resist wanting to get out at break even. At the time I did not have the nerve to stay in the trade with the larger trade size and has happy to take the trade off at BE. This behavior is account destructive. When the trade would go against me and i would add and take it off BE, then the best i could do on this trade when it happened was zero profit - commissions or lose what ever my sell stop was with the higher contract number. If you do that trade 1000 times, you are a guaranteed loser since the best you can do is zero profit and the worst you can do is what ever your stop out is on the higher contracts. Removing this behavior turned me into a break even trader.

 

I still don't do it because i never learned how to allow the larger position to continue to the objective, but I do see and know that there are times when this is a perfectly good strategy if you are a guy who can ride it properly.

 

If the objective is to be out by the end of the day, then I prefer to admit failure as quickly as possible and start chopping. I would rather take the small loss and decide if i want to get back in higher or lower, if the trade is still right. I said earlier in the thread, there is no better barometer that your entry might be wrong than negative equity on a trade.

To do this you have to accept that you will potentially be buying or shorting at a worse price after taking a loss.

 

Regards,

MM

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re "If the objective is to be out by the end of the day, then I prefer to admit failure as quickly as possible and start chopping. I would rather take the small loss and decide if i want to get back in higher or lower, "

 

Yes. Many systems should simply be out way before price gets to a place where "doubling down" (and associated maneuvers) is considered. Example: Under certain conditions, PTJ would take a bunch of tiny losses, then load up. etc.

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zdo, when you're scaling in and the market is below the intial leg, do your subsequent entries always mirror the same size as the original position or do you ever play with the size of of subsequent legs (e.g., 1, 2, 4, etc.)? Reiterating, when the market is below the opening leg.

 

jackb,

 

it's system dependent. For example: over in Traders Logs

http://www.traderslaboratory.com/forums/f103/v-dow-spread-7706.html

I have been loosely chronicling two trades. In the SI/Dow spread I put on shorts in the

Dow in 25% increments (into strength and or weakness) of the total allocation to the trade (ie equal amounts). Also, (sort of off topic) am journaling a short Yen position, where the initial entries where only a tiny percentage of the size of the recent and any subsequent additional entries I will ideally do at lower levels… the result of progressive scaling is much lower average price than if it had been equal scaling in additions. (Note these long term trades are a work in progress…not playing to my typical strengths … that’s why I’m ‘journaling’ them some. )

In ndx day trading I do up to 7 equal sized entries (and btw don’t do them routinely but only under certain conditions…) hth

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in day trading doubling down has saved me from a loss many times more than causing me a further loss. however, it all depends on where it takes place. if price reaches a support level and hold and turns bullish then it makes sense to do it. The basic idea is price has to travel less distance back up to my breakeven point. And it should be before price reaches my puke point stop. For me it makes sense to use an intraday somewhat flexible stop but have a trade management stop at puke level. Of course one could argue just let the intraday stop take you out. How many of you have seen your stop get knocked out and seconds later price is back up and you are in the money if you wouldn't have gotton taken out. With all the HFT going on nowdays the computers algo's create some problems. I prefer to use an intraday trading stop that is adjustible within certain guidelines and a puke point stop that nevers gets moved.

Edited by Patuca

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Wednesday – 22 January 2020 * Consumer Price Index and Core (CAD, GMT 13:30) – The average of the three core CPI measures for December is expected to have come out slightly lower than last month, at 2.1% y/y from 2.2% y/y. The CPI backstops continue to back the BoC’s steady policy outlook. * Interest Rate Decision and Conference (CAD, GMT 15:00) – No change is seen in the current 1.75% policy setting, alongside an announcement and MPR that are consistent with steady policy through year end. Thursday- 23 January 2020 * Labour Market Data (AUD, GMT 13:30) – Australia’s recent employment report showed a slowdown in jobs growth also affected by the bushfires crisis. In December, the unemployment rate is anticipated to jump back to 5.3%  while the employment change is expected to fall to 14K from 39.9K last time. * ECB Interest Rate Decision and Conference (EUR, GMT 12:45 & 13:30) – The ECB is expected to keep policy on hold in January as policy review starts. The ECB kept policy on hold and re-affirmed easing bias at the December policy meeting. * Consumer Price Index (NZD, GMT 21:45) – The overall New Zealand CPI for Q4 should rise to 2.2% y/y from 1.5%. * Monetary Policy Meeting Minutes (JPY, GMT 23:50) – The BoJ Minutes report provides the BoJ Members’ opinions regarding the Japanese economic outlook and any views regarding future rate changes. Friday – 24 January 2020 * Chinese New Year’s Eve – Asia Markets closed * Markit PMI (EUR, GMT 09:00) – The prel. December manufacturing PMI was revised up to 46.3 from 45.9, still down from 46.9 in November. The manufacturing sector has been stuck in recession for eleven successive months. The composite PMI for January meanwhile is expected to be lifted to 51.0 along with a possible rise in services. * Markit PMI (GBP, GMT 09:30) – The prel. UK Services PMI for January is forecasted to register a downwards reading  to 49.4  after the upwards revision last week at 50.0. * Retail Sales (CAD, GMT 13:30) – Retail Sales should register a gain in November to 0.1%, after the -1.2% plunge to 0.1% in total sales values in October. * Manufacturing PMI (USD, GMT 15:00) – The Manufacturing PMI is expected to have decreased to 52.3 in January, compared to 52.4 in December. Always trade with strict risk management. Your capital is the single most important aspect of your trading business. Please note that times displayed based on local time zone and are from time of writing this report. Click HERE to access the full HotForex Economic calendar. Want to learn to trade and analyse the markets? Join our webinars and get analysis and trading ideas combined with better understanding on how markets work. Click HERE to register for FREE! Click HERE to READ more Market news. Andria Pichidi Market Analyst HotForex Disclaimer: This material is provided as a general marketing communication for information purposes only and does not constitute an independent investment research. Nothing in this communication contains, or should be considered as containing, an investment advice or an investment recommendation or a solicitation for the purpose of buying or selling of any financial instrument. All information provided is gathered from reputable sources and any information containing an indication of past performance is not a guarantee or reliable indicator of future performance. Users acknowledge that any investment in FX and CFDs products is characterized by a certain degree of uncertainty and that any investment of this nature involves a high level of risk for which the users are solely responsible and liable. We assume no liability for any loss arising from any investment made based on the information provided in this communication. This communication must not be reproduced or further distributed without our prior written permission.
    • good news!! It seems you can make good money at forex Why Do Many Forex Traders Lose Money? Here is the Number 1 Mistake David Rodriguez 11-14 minutes We look through 43 million real trades to measure trader performance Majority of trades are successful and yet traders are losing Reward to Risk ratios play a vital role in capital preservation Why do major currency moves bring increased trader losses? To find out, the DailyFX research team has looked through over 40 million real trades placed via a major FX broker's trading platforms. In this article, we look at the biggest mistake that forex traders make, and a way to trade appropriately. Why Does the Average Forex Trader Lose Money? The average forex trader loses money, which is in itself a very discouraging fact. But why? Put simply, human psychology makes trading difficult. We looked at over 43 million real trades placed on a major FX broker's trading servers from Q2, 2014 – Q1, 2015 and came to some very interesting conclusions. The first is encouraging: traders make money most of the time as over 50% of trades are closed out at a gain. Percent of All Trades Closed Out at a Gain and Loss per Currency Pair   Data source: Derived from data from a major FX broker* across 15 most traded currency pairs from 3/1/2014 to 3/31/2015. The above chart shows results of over 43 million trades conducted by these traders worldwide from Q2, 2014 through Q1, 2015 across the 15 most popular currency pairs. The blue bar shows the percentage of trades that ended with a profit for the trader. Red shows the percentage of trades that ended in loss. For example, the Euro saw an impressive 61% of all trades closed out at a gain. And indeed every single one of these instruments saw the majority of traders turned a profit more than 50 percent of the time. If traders were right more than half of the time, why did most lose money? Average Profit/Loss per Winning and Losing Trades per Currency Pair Data source: Derived from data from a major FX broker* across 15 most traded currency pairs from 3/1/2014 to 3/31/2015. The above chart says it all. In blue, it shows the average number of pips traders earned on profitable trades. In red, it shows the average number of pips lost in losing trades. We can now clearly see why traders lose money despite being right more than half the time. They lose more money on their losing trades than they make on their winning trades. Let’s use EUR/USD as an example. We see that EUR/USD trades were closed out at a profit 61% of the time, but the average losing trade was worth 83 pips while the average winner was only 48 pips. Traders were correct more than half the time, but they lost over 70% more on their losing trades as they won on winning trades. The track record for the volatile GBP/USD pair was even worse. Traders captured profits on 59% of all GBP/USD trades. Yet they overall lost money as they turned an average 43 pip profit on each winner and lost 83 pips on losing trades. What gives? Identifying that there is a problem is important in itself, but we’ll need to understand the reasons behind it in order to look for a solution. Cut Losses, Let Profits Run – Why is this So Difficult to Do? In our study we saw that traders were very good at identifying profitable trading opportunities--closing trades out at a profit over 50 percent of the time. They utlimately lost, however, as the average loss far outweighed the gain. Open nearly any book on trading and the advice is the same: cut your losses early and let your profits run. When your trade goes against you, close it out. Take the small loss and then try again later, if appropriate. It is better to take a small loss early than a big loss later. If a trade is in your favor, let it run. It is often tempting to close out at a small gain in order to protect profits, but oftentimes we see that patience can result in greater gains. But if the solution is so simple, why is the issue so common? The simple answer: human nature. In fact this is not at all limited to trading. To further illustrate the point we draw on significant findings in psychology. A Simple Wager – Understanding Human Behavior Towards Winning and Losing What if I offered you a simple wager on a coin flip? You have two choices. Choice A means you have a 50% chance of winning 1000 dollars and 50% chance of winning nothing. Choice B is a flat 450 point gain. Which would you choose?         Expected Return Gains Choice A 50% chance to Win 1000 50% chance to Win 0 Expect to win $500 over time   Choice B Win 450   Win $450 Over time it makes sense to take Choice A—the expected gain of $500 is greater than the fixed $450. Yet many studies have shown that most people will consistently choose Choice B. Let’s flip the wager and run it again.         Expected Return Losses Choice A 50% chance to Lose 1000 50% chance to Lose 0 Expect to lose $500 over time   Choice B Lose 450   Lose $450 In this case we can expect to lose less money via Choice B, but in fact studies have shown that the majority of people will pick choice A every single time. Here we see the issue. Most people avoid risk when it comes to taking profits but then actively seek it if it means avoiding a loss. Why? Losses Hurt Psychologically far more than Gains Give Pleasure – Prospect Theory Nobel prize-winning clinical psychologist Daniel Kahneman based on his research on decision making. His work wasn’t on trading per se but clear implications for trade management and is quite relevant to FX trading. His study on Prospect Theory attempted to model and predict choices people would make between scenarios involving known risks and rewards. The findings showed something remarkably simple yet profound: most people took more pain from losses than pleasure from gains. It feels “good enough” to make $450 versus $500, but accepting a $500 loss hurts too much and many are willing to gamble that the trade turns around. This doesn’t make any sense from a trading perspective—500 dollars lost are equivalent to 500 dollars gained; one is not worth more than the other. Why should we then act so differently? Prospect Theory: Losses Typically Hurt Far More than Gains Give Pleasure Taking a purely rational approach to markets means treating a 50 point gain as morally equivalent to a 50 point loss. Unfortunately our data on real trader behavior suggests that the majority can’t do this. We need to think more systematically to improve our chances at success. Avoid the Common Pitfall Avoiding the loss-making problem described above is very simple in theory: gain more in each winning trade than you give back in each losing trade. But how might we do it concretely? When trading, always follow one simple rule: always seek a bigger reward than the loss you are risking. This is a valuable piece of advice that can be found in almost every trading book. Typically, this is called a “reward/risk ratio”. If you risk losing the same number of pips as you hope to gain, then your reward/risk ratio is 1-to-1 (also written 1:1). If you target a profit of 80 pips with a risk of 40 pips, then you have a 2:1 reward/risk ratio. If you follow this simple rule, you can be right on the direction of only half of your trades and still make money because you will earn more profits on your winning trades than losses on your losing trades. What ratio should you use? It depends on the type of trade you are making. We recommend to always use a minimum 1:1 ratio. That way, if you are right only half the time, you will at least break even. Certain strategies and trading techniques tend to produce high winning percentages as we saw with real trader data. If this is the case, it is possible to use a lower reward/risk ratio—such as between 1:1 and 2:1. For lower probability trading, a higher reward/risk ratio is recommended, such as 2:1, 3:1, or even 4:1. Remember, the higher the reward/risk ratio you choose, the less often you need to correctly predict market direction in order to make money trading. We will discuss different trading techniques in further detail in subsequent installments of this series. Stick to Your Plan: Use Stops and Limits Once you have a trading plan that uses a proper reward/risk ratio, the next challenge is to stick to the plan. Remember, it is natural for humans to want to hold on to losses and take profits early, but it makes for bad trading. We must overcome this natural tendency and remove our emotions from trading. The best way to do this is to set up your trade with Stop-Loss and Limit orders from the beginning. This will allow you to use the proper reward/risk ratio (1:1 or higher) from the outset, and to stick to it. Once you set them, don’t touch them (One exception: you can move your stop in your favor to lock in profits as the market moves in your favor). Managing your risk in this way is a part of what many traders call “money management”. Many of the most successful forex traders are right about the market’s direction less than half the time. Since they practice good money management, they cut their losses quickly and let their profits run, so they are still profitable in their overall trading. Does Using 1:1 Reward to Risk Really Work? Our data certainly suggest it does. We use our data on our top 15 currency pairs to determine which trader accounts closed their Average Gain at least as large as their Average Loss—or a minimum Reward:Risk of 1:1. Were traders ultimately profitable if they stuck to this rule? Past performance is not indicative of future results, but the results certainly support it. Our data shows that 53 percent of all accounts which operated on at least a 1:1 Reward to Risk ratio turned a net-profit in our 12-month sample period. Those under 1:1? A mere 17 percent. Traders who adhered to this rule were 3 times more likely to turn a profit over the course of these 12 months—a substantial difference. Data source: Derived from data from a major FX broker* across 15 most traded currency pairs from 3/1/2014 to 3/31/2015. Game Plan: What Strategy Can I Use? Trade forex with stops and limits set to a risk/reward ratio of 1:1 or higher Whenever you place a trade, make sure that you use a stop-loss order. Always make sure that your profit target is at least as far away from your entry price as your stop-loss is. You can certainly set your price target higher, and probably should aim for at least 1:1 regardless of strategy, potentially 2:1 or more in certain circumstances. Then you can choose the market direction correctly only half the time and still make money in your account. The actual distance you place your stops and limits will depend on the conditions in the market at the time, such as volatility, currency pair, and where you see support and resistance. You can apply the same reward/risk ratio to any trade. If you have a stop level 40 pips away from entry, you should have a profit target 40 pips or more away. If you have a stop level 500 pips away, your profit target should be at least 500 pips away. We will use this as a basis for further study on real trader behavior as we look to uncover the traits of successful traders. *Data is drawn from FXCM Inc. accounts excluding Eligible Contract Participants, Clearing Accounts, Hong Kong, and Japan subsidiaries from 3/1/2014 to 3/31/2015. Interested in developing your own strategy? On page 2 of our Building Confidence in Trading Guide, we help you identify your trading style and create your own trading plan. Why Do Many Forex Traders Lose Money? Here is the Number 1 Mistake David Rodriguez 11-14 minutes We look through 43 million real trades to measure trader performance Majority of trades are successful and yet traders are losing Reward to Risk ratios play a vital role in capital preservation Why do major currency moves bring increased trader losses? To find out, the DailyFX research team has looked through over 40 million real trades placed via a major FX broker's trading platforms. In this article, we look at the biggest mistake that forex traders make, and a way to trade appropriately. Why Does the Average Forex Trader Lose Money? The average forex trader loses money, which is in itself a very discouraging fact. But why? Put simply, human psychology makes trading difficult. We looked at over 43 million real trades placed on a major FX broker's trading servers from Q2, 2014 – Q1, 2015 and came to some very interesting conclusions. The first is encouraging: traders make money most of the time as over 50% of trades are closed out at a gain. Percent of All Trades Closed Out at a Gain and Loss per Currency Pair     Data source: Derived from data from a major FX broker* across 15 most traded currency pairs from 3/1/2014 to 3/31/2015. The above chart shows results of over 43 million trades conducted by these traders worldwide from Q2, 2014 through Q1, 2015 across the 15 most popular currency pairs. The blue bar shows the percentage of trades that ended with a profit for the trader. Red shows the percentage of trades that ended in loss. For example, the Euro saw an impressive 61% of all trades closed out at a gain. And indeed every single one of these instruments saw the majority of traders turned a profit more than 50 percent of the time. If traders were right more than half of the time, why did most lose money? Average Profit/Loss per Winning and Losing Trades per Currency Pair Data source: Derived from data from a major FX broker* across 15 most traded currency pairs from 3/1/2014 to 3/31/2015. The above chart says it all. In blue, it shows the average number of pips traders earned on profitable trades. In red, it shows the average number of pips lost in losing trades. We can now clearly see why traders lose money despite being right more than half the time. They lose more money on their losing trades than they make on their winning trades. Let’s use EUR/USD as an example. We see that EUR/USD trades were closed out at a profit 61% of the time, but the average losing trade was worth 83 pips while the average winner was only 48 pips. Traders were correct more than half the time, but they lost over 70% more on their losing trades as they won on winning trades. The track record for the volatile GBP/USD pair was even worse. Traders captured profits on 59% of all GBP/USD trades. Yet they overall lost money as they turned an average 43 pip profit on each winner and lost 83 pips on losing trades. What gives? Identifying that there is a problem is important in itself, but we’ll need to understand the reasons behind it in order to look for a solution. Cut Losses, Let Profits Run – Why is this So Difficult to Do? In our study we saw that traders were very good at identifying profitable trading opportunities--closing trades out at a profit over 50 percent of the time. They utlimately lost, however, as the average loss far outweighed the gain. Open nearly any book on trading and the advice is the same: cut your losses early and let your profits run. When your trade goes against you, close it out. Take the small loss and then try again later, if appropriate. It is better to take a small loss early than a big loss later. If a trade is in your favor, let it run. It is often tempting to close out at a small gain in order to protect profits, but oftentimes we see that patience can result in greater gains. But if the solution is so simple, why is the issue so common? The simple answer: human nature. In fact this is not at all limited to trading. To further illustrate the point we draw on significant findings in psychology. A Simple Wager – Understanding Human Behavior Towards Winning and Losing What if I offered you a simple wager on a coin flip? You have two choices. Choice A means you have a 50% chance of winning 1000 dollars and 50% chance of winning nothing. Choice B is a flat 450 point gain. Which would you choose?         Expected Return Gains Choice A 50% chance to Win 1000 50% chance to Win 0 Expect to win $500 over time   Choice B Win 450   Win $450 Over time it makes sense to take Choice A—the expected gain of $500 is greater than the fixed $450. Yet many studies have shown that most people will consistently choose Choice B. Let’s flip the wager and run it again.         Expected Return Losses Choice A 50% chance to Lose 1000 50% chance to Lose 0 Expect to lose $500 over time   Choice B Lose 450   Lose $450 In this case we can expect to lose less money via Choice B, but in fact studies have shown that the majority of people will pick choice A every single time. Here we see the issue. Most people avoid risk when it comes to taking profits but then actively seek it if it means avoiding a loss. Why? Losses Hurt Psychologically far more than Gains Give Pleasure – Prospect Theory Nobel prize-winning clinical psychologist Daniel Kahneman based on his research on decision making. His work wasn’t on trading per se but clear implications for trade management and is quite relevant to FX trading. His study on Prospect Theory attempted to model and predict choices people would make between scenarios involving known risks and rewards. The findings showed something remarkably simple yet profound: most people took more pain from losses than pleasure from gains. It feels “good enough” to make $450 versus $500, but accepting a $500 loss hurts too much and many are willing to gamble that the trade turns around. This doesn’t make any sense from a trading perspective—500 dollars lost are equivalent to 500 dollars gained; one is not worth more than the other. Why should we then act so differently? Prospect Theory: Losses Typically Hurt Far More than Gains Give Pleasure Taking a purely rational approach to markets means treating a 50 point gain as morally equivalent to a 50 point loss. Unfortunately our data on real trader behavior suggests that the majority can’t do this. We need to think more systematically to improve our chances at success. Avoid the Common Pitfall Avoiding the loss-making problem described above is very simple in theory: gain more in each winning trade than you give back in each losing trade. But how might we do it concretely? When trading, always follow one simple rule: always seek a bigger reward than the loss you are risking. This is a valuable piece of advice that can be found in almost every trading book. Typically, this is called a “reward/risk ratio”. If you risk losing the same number of pips as you hope to gain, then your reward/risk ratio is 1-to-1 (also written 1:1). If you target a profit of 80 pips with a risk of 40 pips, then you have a 2:1 reward/risk ratio. If you follow this simple rule, you can be right on the direction of only half of your trades and still make money because you will earn more profits on your winning trades than losses on your losing trades. What ratio should you use? It depends on the type of trade you are making. We recommend to always use a minimum 1:1 ratio. That way, if you are right only half the time, you will at least break even. Certain strategies and trading techniques tend to produce high winning percentages as we saw with real trader data. If this is the case, it is possible to use a lower reward/risk ratio—such as between 1:1 and 2:1. For lower probability trading, a higher reward/risk ratio is recommended, such as 2:1, 3:1, or even 4:1. Remember, the higher the reward/risk ratio you choose, the less often you need to correctly predict market direction in order to make money trading. We will discuss different trading techniques in further detail in subsequent installments of this series. Stick to Your Plan: Use Stops and Limits Once you have a trading plan that uses a proper reward/risk ratio, the next challenge is to stick to the plan. Remember, it is natural for humans to want to hold on to losses and take profits early, but it makes for bad trading. We must overcome this natural tendency and remove our emotions from trading. The best way to do this is to set up your trade with Stop-Loss and Limit orders from the beginning. This will allow you to use the proper reward/risk ratio (1:1 or higher) from the outset, and to stick to it. Once you set them, don’t touch them (One exception: you can move your stop in your favor to lock in profits as the market moves in your favor). Managing your risk in this way is a part of what many traders call “money management”. Many of the most successful forex traders are right about the market’s direction less than half the time. Since they practice good money management, they cut their losses quickly and let their profits run, so they are still profitable in their overall trading. Does Using 1:1 Reward to Risk Really Work? Our data certainly suggest it does. We use our data on our top 15 currency pairs to determine which trader accounts closed their Average Gain at least as large as their Average Loss—or a minimum Reward:Risk of 1:1. Were traders ultimately profitable if they stuck to this rule? Past performance is not indicative of future results, but the results certainly support it. Our data shows that 53 percent of all accounts which operated on at least a 1:1 Reward to Risk ratio turned a net-profit in our 12-month sample period. Those under 1:1? A mere 17 percent. Traders who adhered to this rule were 3 times more likely to turn a profit over the course of these 12 months—a substantial difference. Why Do Many Forex Traders Lose Money? Here is the Number 1 Mistake David Rodriguez 11-14 minutes We look through 43 million real trades to measure trader performance Majority of trades are successful and yet traders are losing Reward to Risk ratios play a vital role in capital preservation Why do major currency moves bring increased trader losses? To find out, the DailyFX research team has looked through over 40 million real trades placed via a major FX broker's trading platforms. In this article, we look at the biggest mistake that forex traders make, and a way to trade appropriately. Why Does the Average Forex Trader Lose Money? The average forex trader loses money, which is in itself a very discouraging fact. But why? Put simply, human psychology makes trading difficult. We looked at over 43 million real trades placed on a major FX broker's trading servers from Q2, 2014 – Q1, 2015 and came to some very interesting conclusions. The first is encouraging: traders make money most of the time as over 50% of trades are closed out at a gain. Percent of All Trades Closed Out at a Gain and Loss per Currency Pair Data source: Derived from data from a major FX broker* across 15 most traded currency pairs from 3/1/2014 to 3/31/2015. The above chart shows results of over 43 million trades conducted by these traders worldwide from Q2, 2014 through Q1, 2015 across the 15 most popular currency pairs. The blue bar shows the percentage of trades that ended with a profit for the trader. Red shows the percentage of trades that ended in loss. For example, the Euro saw an impressive 61% of all trades closed out at a gain. And indeed every single one of these instruments saw the majority of traders turned a profit more than 50 percent of the time. If traders were right more than half of the time, why did most lose money? Average Profit/Loss per Winning and Losing Trades per Currency Pair Data source: Derived from data from a major FX broker* across 15 most traded currency pairs from 3/1/2014 to 3/31/2015. The above chart says it all. In blue, it shows the average number of pips traders earned on profitable trades. In red, it shows the average number of pips lost in losing trades. We can now clearly see why traders lose money despite being right more than half the time. They lose more money on their losing trades than they make on their winning trades. Let’s use EUR/USD as an example. We see that EUR/USD trades were closed out at a profit 61% of the time, but the average losing trade was worth 83 pips while the average winner was only 48 pips. Traders were correct more than half the time, but they lost over 70% more on their losing trades as they won on winning trades. The track record for the volatile GBP/USD pair was even worse. Traders captured profits on 59% of all GBP/USD trades. Yet they overall lost money as they turned an average 43 pip profit on each winner and lost 83 pips on losing trades. What gives? Identifying that there is a problem is important in itself, but we’ll need to understand the reasons behind it in order to look for a solution. Cut Losses, Let Profits Run – Why is this So Difficult to Do? In our study we saw that traders were very good at identifying profitable trading opportunities--closing trades out at a profit over 50 percent of the time. They utlimately lost, however, as the average loss far outweighed the gain. Open nearly any book on trading and the advice is the same: cut your losses early and let your profits run. When your trade goes against you, close it out. Take the small loss and then try again later, if appropriate. It is better to take a small loss early than a big loss later. If a trade is in your favor, let it run. It is often tempting to close out at a small gain in order to protect profits, but oftentimes we see that patience can result in greater gains. But if the solution is so simple, why is the issue so common? The simple answer: human nature. In fact this is not at all limited to trading. To further illustrate the point we draw on significant findings in psychology. A Simple Wager – Understanding Human Behavior Towards Winning and Losing What if I offered you a simple wager on a coin flip? You have two choices. Choice A means you have a 50% chance of winning 1000 dollars and 50% chance of winning nothing. Choice B is a flat 450 point gain. Which would you choose?         Expected Return Gains Choice A 50% chance to Win 1000 50% chance to Win 0 Expect to win $500 over time   Choice B Win 450   Win $450 Over time it makes sense to take Choice A—the expected gain of $500 is greater than the fixed $450. Yet many studies have shown that most people will consistently choose Choice B. Let’s flip the wager and run it again.         Expected Return Losses Choice A 50% chance to Lose 1000 50% chance to Lose 0 Expect to lose $500 over time   Choice B Lose 450   Lose $450 In this case we can expect to lose less money via Choice B, but in fact studies have shown that the majority of people will pick choice A every single time. Here we see the issue. Most people avoid risk when it comes to taking profits but then actively seek it if it means avoiding a loss. Why? Losses Hurt Psychologically far more than Gains Give Pleasure – Prospect Theory Nobel prize-winning clinical psychologist Daniel Kahneman based on his research on decision making. His work wasn’t on trading per se but clear implications for trade management and is quite relevant to FX trading. His study on Prospect Theory attempted to model and predict choices people would make between scenarios involving known risks and rewards. The findings showed something remarkably simple yet profound: most people took more pain from losses than pleasure from gains. It feels “good enough” to make $450 versus $500, but accepting a $500 loss hurts too much and many are willing to gamble that the trade turns around. This doesn’t make any sense from a trading perspective—500 dollars lost are equivalent to 500 dollars gained; one is not worth more than the other. Why should we then act so differently? Prospect Theory: Losses Typically Hurt Far More than Gains Give Pleasure Taking a purely rational approach to markets means treating a 50 point gain as morally equivalent to a 50 point loss. Unfortunately our data on real trader behavior suggests that the majority can’t do this. We need to think more systematically to improve our chances at success. Avoid the Common Pitfall Avoiding the loss-making problem described above is very simple in theory: gain more in each winning trade than you give back in each losing trade. But how might we do it concretely? When trading, always follow one simple rule: always seek a bigger reward than the loss you are risking. This is a valuable piece of advice that can be found in almost every trading book. Typically, this is called a “reward/risk ratio”. If you risk losing the same number of pips as you hope to gain, then your reward/risk ratio is 1-to-1 (also written 1:1). If you target a profit of 80 pips with a risk of 40 pips, then you have a 2:1 reward/risk ratio. If you follow this simple rule, you can be right on the direction of only half of your trades and still make money because you will earn more profits on your winning trades than losses on your losing trades. What ratio should you use? It depends on the type of trade you are making. We recommend to always use a minimum 1:1 ratio. That way, if you are right only half the time, you will at least break even. Certain strategies and trading techniques tend to produce high winning percentages as we saw with real trader data. If this is the case, it is possible to use a lower reward/risk ratio—such as between 1:1 and 2:1. For lower probability trading, a higher reward/risk ratio is recommended, such as 2:1, 3:1, or even 4:1. Remember, the higher the reward/risk ratio you choose, the less often you need to correctly predict market direction in order to make money trading. We will discuss different trading techniques in further detail in subsequent installments of this series. Stick to Your Plan: Use Stops and Limits Once you have a trading plan that uses a proper reward/risk ratio, the next challenge is to stick to the plan. Remember, it is natural for humans to want to hold on to losses and take profits early, but it makes for bad trading. We must overcome this natural tendency and remove our emotions from trading. The best way to do this is to set up your trade with Stop-Loss and Limit orders from the beginning. This will allow you to use the proper reward/risk ratio (1:1 or higher) from the outset, and to stick to it. Once you set them, don’t touch them (One exception: you can move your stop in your favor to lock in profits as the market moves in your favor). Managing your risk in this way is a part of what many traders call “money management”. Many of the most successful forex traders are right about the market’s direction less than half the time. Since they practice good money management, they cut their losses quickly and let their profits run, so they are still profitable in their overall trading. Does Using 1:1 Reward to Risk Really Work? Our data certainly suggest it does. We use our data on our top 15 currency pairs to determine which trader accounts closed their Average Gain at least as large as their Average Loss—or a minimum Reward:Risk of 1:1. Were traders ultimately profitable if they stuck to this rule? Past performance is not indicative of future results, but the results certainly support it. Our data shows that 53 percent of all accounts which operated on at least a 1:1 Reward to Risk ratio turned a net-profit in our 12-month sample period. Those under 1:1? A mere 17 percent. Traders who adhered to this rule were 3 times more likely to turn a profit over the course of these 12 months—a substantial difference. Why Do Many Forex Traders Lose Money? Here is the Number 1 Mistake David Rodriguez 11-14 minutes We look through 43 million real trades to measure trader performance Majority of trades are successful and yet traders are losing Reward to Risk ratios play a vital role in capital preservation Why do major currency moves bring increased trader losses? To find out, the DailyFX research team has looked through over 40 million real trades placed via a major FX broker's trading platforms. In this article, we look at the biggest mistake that forex traders make, and a way to trade appropriately. Why Does the Average Forex Trader Lose Money? The average forex trader loses money, which is in itself a very discouraging fact. But why? Put simply, human psychology makes trading difficult. We looked at over 43 million real trades placed on a major FX broker's trading servers from Q2, 2014 – Q1, 2015 and came to some very interesting conclusions. The first is encouraging: traders make money most of the time as over 50% of trades are closed out at a gain. Percent of All Trades Closed Out at a Gain and Loss per Currency Pair   Data source: Derived from data from a major FX broker* across 15 most traded currency pairs from 3/1/2014 to 3/31/2015. The above chart shows results of over 43 million trades conducted by these traders worldwide from Q2, 2014 through Q1, 2015 across the 15 most popular currency pairs. The blue bar shows the percentage of trades that ended with a profit for the trader. Red shows the percentage of trades that ended in loss. For example, the Euro saw an impressive 61% of all trades closed out at a gain. And indeed every single one of these instruments saw the majority of traders turned a profit more than 50 percent of the time. If traders were right more than half of the time, why did most lose money? Average Profit/Loss per Winning and Losing Trades per Currency Pair Data source: Derived from data from a major FX broker* across 15 most traded currency pairs from 3/1/2014 to 3/31/2015. The above chart says it all. In blue, it shows the average number of pips traders earned on profitable trades. In red, it shows the average number of pips lost in losing trades. We can now clearly see why traders lose money despite being right more than half the time. They lose more money on their losing trades than they make on their winning trades. Let’s use EUR/USD as an example. We see that EUR/USD trades were closed out at a profit 61% of the time, but the average losing trade was worth 83 pips while the average winner was only 48 pips. Traders were correct more than half the time, but they lost over 70% more on their losing trades as they won on winning trades. The track record for the volatile GBP/USD pair was even worse. Traders captured profits on 59% of all GBP/USD trades. Yet they overall lost money as they turned an average 43 pip profit on each winner and lost 83 pips on losing trades. What gives? Identifying that there is a problem is important in itself, but we’ll need to understand the reasons behind it in order to look for a solution. Cut Losses, Let Profits Run – Why is this So Difficult to Do? In our study we saw that traders were very good at identifying profitable trading opportunities--closing trades out at a profit over 50 percent of the time. They utlimately lost, however, as the average loss far outweighed the gain. Open nearly any book on trading and the advice is the same: cut your losses early and let your profits run. When your trade goes against you, close it out. Take the small loss and then try again later, if appropriate. It is better to take a small loss early than a big loss later. If a trade is in your favor, let it run. It is often tempting to close out at a small gain in order to protect profits, but oftentimes we see that patience can result in greater gains. But if the solution is so simple, why is the issue so common? The simple answer: human nature. In fact this is not at all limited to trading. To further illustrate the point we draw on significant findings in psychology. A Simple Wager – Understanding Human Behavior Towards Winning and Losing What if I offered you a simple wager on a coin flip? You have two choices. Choice A means you have a 50% chance of winning 1000 dollars and 50% chance of winning nothing. Choice B is a flat 450 point gain. Which would you choose?         Expected Return Gains Choice A 50% chance to Win 1000 50% chance to Win 0 Expect to win $500 over time   Choice B Win 450   Win $450 Over time it makes sense to take Choice A—the expected gain of $500 is greater than the fixed $450. Yet many studies have shown that most people will consistently choose Choice B. Let’s flip the wager and run it again.         Expected Return Losses Choice A 50% chance to Lose 1000 50% chance to Lose 0 Expect to lose $500 over time   Choice B Lose 450   Lose $450 In this case we can expect to lose less money via Choice B, but in fact studies have shown that the majority of people will pick choice A every single time. Here we see the issue. Most people avoid risk when it comes to taking profits but then actively seek it if it means avoiding a loss. Why? Losses Hurt Psychologically far more than Gains Give Pleasure – Prospect Theory Nobel prize-winning clinical psychologist Daniel Kahneman based on his research on decision making. His work wasn’t on trading per se but clear implications for trade management and is quite relevant to FX trading. His study on Prospect Theory attempted to model and predict choices people would make between scenarios involving known risks and rewards. The findings showed something remarkably simple yet profound: most people took more pain from losses than pleasure from gains. It feels “good enough” to make $450 versus $500, but accepting a $500 loss hurts too much and many are willing to gamble that the trade turns around. This doesn’t make any sense from a trading perspective—500 dollars lost are equivalent to 500 dollars gained; one is not worth more than the other. Why should we then act so differently? Prospect Theory: Losses Typically Hurt Far More than Gains Give Pleasure Taking a purely rational approach to markets means treating a 50 point gain as morally equivalent to a 50 point loss. Unfortunately our data on real trader behavior suggests that the majority can’t do this. We need to think more systematically to improve our chances at success. Avoid the Common Pitfall Avoiding the loss-making problem described above is very simple in theory: gain more in each winning trade than you give back in each losing trade. But how might we do it concretely? When trading, always follow one simple rule: always seek a bigger reward than the loss you are risking. This is a valuable piece of advice that can be found in almost every trading book. Typically, this is called a “reward/risk ratio”. If you risk losing the same number of pips as you hope to gain, then your reward/risk ratio is 1-to-1 (also written 1:1). If you target a profit of 80 pips with a risk of 40 pips, then you have a 2:1 reward/risk ratio. If you follow this simple rule, you can be right on the direction of only half of your trades and still make money because you will earn more profits on your winning trades than losses on your losing trades. What ratio should you use? It depends on the type of trade you are making. We recommend to always use a minimum 1:1 ratio. That way, if you are right only half the time, you will at least break even. Certain strategies and trading techniques tend to produce high winning percentages as we saw with real trader data. If this is the case, it is possible to use a lower reward/risk ratio—such as between 1:1 and 2:1. For lower probability trading, a higher reward/risk ratio is recommended, such as 2:1, 3:1, or even 4:1. Remember, the higher the reward/risk ratio you choose, the less often you need to correctly predict market direction in order to make money trading. We will discuss different trading techniques in further detail in subsequent installments of this series. Stick to Your Plan: Use Stops and Limits Once you have a trading plan that uses a proper reward/risk ratio, the next challenge is to stick to the plan. Remember, it is natural for humans to want to hold on to losses and take profits early, but it makes for bad trading. We must overcome this natural tendency and remove our emotions from trading. The best way to do this is to set up your trade with Stop-Loss and Limit orders from the beginning. This will allow you to use the proper reward/risk ratio (1:1 or higher) from the outset, and to stick to it. Once you set them, don’t touch them (One exception: you can move your stop in your favor to lock in profits as the market moves in your favor). Managing your risk in this way is a part of what many traders call “money management”. Many of the most successful forex traders are right about the market’s direction less than half the time. Since they practice good money management, they cut their losses quickly and let their profits run, so they are still profitable in their overall trading. Does Using 1:1 Reward to Risk Really Work? Our data certainly suggest it does. We use our data on our top 15 currency pairs to determine which trader accounts closed their Average Gain at least as large as their Average Loss—or a minimum Reward:Risk of 1:1. Were traders ultimately profitable if they stuck to this rule? Past performance is not indicative of future results, but the results certainly support it. Our data shows that 53 percent of all accounts which operated on at least a 1:1 Reward to Risk ratio turned a net-profit in our 12-month sample period. Those under 1:1? A mere 17 percent. Traders who adhered to this rule were 3 times more likely to turn a profit over the course of these 12 months—a substantial difference. Why Do Many Forex Traders Lose Money? Here is the Number 1 Mistake David Rodriguez 11-14 minutes We look through 43 million real trades to measure trader performance Majority of trades are successful and yet traders are losing Reward to Risk ratios play a vital role in capital preservation Why do major currency moves bring increased trader losses? To find out, the DailyFX research team has looked through over 40 million real trades placed via a major FX broker's trading platforms. In this article, we look at the biggest mistake that forex traders make, and a way to trade appropriately. Why Does the Average Forex Trader Lose Money? The average forex trader loses money, which is in itself a very discouraging fact. But why? Put simply, human psychology makes trading difficult. We looked at over 43 million real trades placed on a major FX broker's trading servers from Q2, 2014 – Q1, 2015 and came to some very interesting conclusions. The first is encouraging: traders make money most of the time as over 50% of trades are closed out at a gain. Percent of All Trades Closed Out at a Gain and Loss per Currency Pair   Data source: Derived from data from a major FX broker* across 15 most traded currency pairs from 3/1/2014 to 3/31/2015. The above chart shows results of over 43 million trades conducted by these traders worldwide from Q2, 2014 through Q1, 2015 across the 15 most popular currency pairs. The blue bar shows the percentage of trades that ended with a profit for the trader. Red shows the percentage of trades that ended in loss. For example, the Euro saw an impressive 61% of all trades closed out at a gain. And indeed every single one of these instruments saw the majority of traders turned a profit more than 50 percent of the time. If traders were right more than half of the time, why did most lose money? Average Profit/Loss per Winning and Losing Trades per Currency Pair Data source: Derived from data from a major FX broker* across 15 most traded currency pairs from 3/1/2014 to 3/31/2015. The above chart says it all. In blue, it shows the average number of pips traders earned on profitable trades. In red, it shows the average number of pips lost in losing trades. We can now clearly see why traders lose money despite being right more than half the time. They lose more money on their losing trades than they make on their winning trades. Let’s use EUR/USD as an example. We see that EUR/USD trades were closed out at a profit 61% of the time, but the average losing trade was worth 83 pips while the average winner was only 48 pips. Traders were correct more than half the time, but they lost over 70% more on their losing trades as they won on winning trades. The track record for the volatile GBP/USD pair was even worse. Traders captured profits on 59% of all GBP/USD trades. Yet they overall lost money as they turned an average 43 pip profit on each winner and lost 83 pips on losing trades. What gives? Identifying that there is a problem is important in itself, but we’ll need to understand the reasons behind it in order to look for a solution. Cut Losses, Let Profits Run – Why is this So Difficult to Do? In our study we saw that traders were very good at identifying profitable trading opportunities--closing trades out at a profit over 50 percent of the time. They utlimately lost, however, as the average loss far outweighed the gain. Open nearly any book on trading and the advice is the same: cut your losses early and let your profits run. When your trade goes against you, close it out. Take the small loss and then try again later, if appropriate. It is better to take a small loss early than a big loss later. If a trade is in your favor, let it run. It is often tempting to close out at a small gain in order to protect profits, but oftentimes we see that patience can result in greater gains. But if the solution is so simple, why is the issue so common? The simple answer: human nature. In fact this is not at all limited to trading. To further illustrate the point we draw on significant findings in psychology. A Simple Wager – Understanding Human Behavior Towards Winning and Losing What if I offered you a simple wager on a coin flip? You have two choices. Choice A means you have a 50% chance of winning 1000 dollars and 50% chance of winning nothing. Choice B is a flat 450 point gain. Which would you choose?         Expected Return Gains Choice A 50% chance to Win 1000 50% chance to Win 0 Expect to win $500 over time   Choice B Win 450   Win $450 Over time it makes sense to take Choice A—the expected gain of $500 is greater than the fixed $450. Yet many studies have shown that most people will consistently choose Choice B. Let’s flip the wager and run it again.         Expected Return Losses Choice A 50% chance to Lose 1000 50% chance to Lose 0 Expect to lose $500 over time   Choice B Lose 450   Lose $450 In this case we can expect to lose less money via Choice B, but in fact studies have shown that the majority of people will pick choice A every single time. Here we see the issue. Most people avoid risk when it comes to taking profits but then actively seek it if it means avoiding a loss. Why? Losses Hurt Psychologically far more than Gains Give Pleasure – Prospect Theory Nobel prize-winning clinical psychologist Daniel Kahneman based on his research on decision making. His work wasn’t on trading per se but clear implications for trade management and is quite relevant to FX trading. His study on Prospect Theory attempted to model and predict choices people would make between scenarios involving known risks and rewards. The findings showed something remarkably simple yet profound: most people took more pain from losses than pleasure from gains. It feels “good enough” to make $450 versus $500, but accepting a $500 loss hurts too much and many are willing to gamble that the trade turns around. This doesn’t make any sense from a trading perspective—500 dollars lost are equivalent to 500 dollars gained; one is not worth more than the other. Why should we then act so differently? Prospect Theory: Losses Typically Hurt Far More than Gains Give Pleasure Taking a purely rational approach to markets means treating a 50 point gain as morally equivalent to a 50 point loss. Unfortunately our data on real trader behavior suggests that the majority can’t do this. We need to think more systematically to improve our chances at success. Avoid the Common Pitfall Avoiding the loss-making problem described above is very simple in theory: gain more in each winning trade than you give back in each losing trade. But how might we do it concretely? When trading, always follow one simple rule: always seek a bigger reward than the loss you are risking. This is a valuable piece of advice that can be found in almost every trading book. Typically, this is called a “reward/risk ratio”. If you risk losing the same number of pips as you hope to gain, then your reward/risk ratio is 1-to-1 (also written 1:1). If you target a profit of 80 pips with a risk of 40 pips, then you have a 2:1 reward/risk ratio. If you follow this simple rule, you can be right on the direction of only half of your trades and still make money because you will earn more profits on your winning trades than losses on your losing trades. What ratio should you use? It depends on the type of trade you are making. We recommend to always use a minimum 1:1 ratio. That way, if you are right only half the time, you will at least break even. Certain strategies and trading techniques tend to produce high winning percentages as we saw with real trader data. If this is the case, it is possible to use a lower reward/risk ratio—such as between 1:1 and 2:1. For lower probability trading, a higher reward/risk ratio is recommended, such as 2:1, 3:1, or even 4:1. Remember, the higher the reward/risk ratio you choose, the less often you need to correctly predict market direction in order to make money trading. We will discuss different trading techniques in further detail in subsequent installments of this series. Stick to Your Plan: Use Stops and Limits Once you have a trading plan that uses a proper reward/risk ratio, the next challenge is to stick to the plan. Remember, it is natural for humans to want to hold on to losses and take profits early, but it makes for bad trading. We must overcome this natural tendency and remove our emotions from trading. The best way to do this is to set up your trade with Stop-Loss and Limit orders from the beginning. This will allow you to use the proper reward/risk ratio (1:1 or higher) from the outset, and to stick to it. Once you set them, don’t touch them (One exception: you can move your stop in your favor to lock in profits as the market moves in your favor). Managing your risk in this way is a part of what many traders call “money management”. Many of the most successful forex traders are right about the market’s direction less than half the time. Since they practice good money management, they cut their losses quickly and let their profits run, so they are still profitable in their overall trading. Does Using 1:1 Reward to Risk Really Work? Our data certainly suggest it does. We use our data on our top 15 currency pairs to determine which trader accounts closed their Average Gain at least as large as their Average Loss—or a minimum Reward:Risk of 1:1. Were traders ultimately profitable if they stuck to this rule? Past performance is not indicative of future results, but the results certainly support it. Our data shows that 53 percent of all accounts which operated on at least a 1:1 Reward to Risk ratio turned a net-profit in our 12-month sample period. Those under 1:1? A mere 17 percent. Traders who adhered to this rule were 3 times more likely to turn a profit over the course of these 12 months—a substantial difference. dont forget- like subscribe Data source: Derived from data from a major FX broker* across 15 most traded currency pairs from 3/1/2014 to 3/31/2015. Game Plan: What Strategy Can I Use? Trade forex with stops and limits set to a risk/reward ratio of 1:1 or higher Whenever you place a trade, make sure that you use a stop-loss order. Always make sure that your profit target is at least as far away from your entry price as your stop-loss is. You can certainly set your price target higher, and probably should aim for at least 1:1 regardless of strategy, potentially 2:1 or more in certain circumstances. Then you can choose the market direction correctly only half the time and still make money in your account. The actual distance you place your stops and limits will depend on the conditions in the market at the time, such as volatility, currency pair, and where you see support and resistance. You can apply the same reward/risk ratio to any trade. If you have a stop level 40 pips away from entry, you should have a profit target 40 pips or more away. If you have a stop level 500 pips away, your profit target should be at least 500 pips away. We will use this as a basis for further study on real trader behavior as we look to uncover the traits of successful traders. *Data is drawn from FXCM Inc. accounts excluding Eligible Contract Participants, Clearing Accounts, Hong Kong, and Japan subsidiaries from 3/1/2014 to 3/31/2015. Interested in developing your own strategy? On page 2 of our Building Confidence in Trading Guide, we help you identify your trading style and create your own trading plan. View the next articles in the Traits of Successful Series: Trading Leverage - A Real Look at How Traders May Use it Effectively Do the Hours I Trade Matter? Yes - Quite a Bit Analysis prepared and written by David Rodriguez, Quantitative Strategist for DailyFX.com Data source: Derived from data from a major FX broker* across 15 most traded currency pairs from 3/1/2014 to 3/31/2015. Game Plan: What Strategy Can I Use? Trade forex with stops and limits set to a risk/reward ratio of 1:1 or higher Whenever you place a trade, make sure that you use a stop-loss order. Always make sure that your profit target is at least as far away from your entry price as your stop-loss is. You can certainly set your price target higher, and probably should aim for at least 1:1 regardless of strategy, potentially 2:1 or more in certain circumstances. Then you can choose the market direction correctly only half the time and still make money in your account. The actual distance you place your stops and limits will depend on the conditions in the market at the time, such as volatility, currency pair, and where you see support and resistance. You can apply the same reward/risk ratio to any trade. If you have a stop level 40 pips away from entry, you should have a profit target 40 pips or more away. If you have a stop level 500 pips away, your profit target should be at least 500 pips away. We will use this as a basis for further study on real trader behavior as we look to uncover the traits of successful traders. *Data is drawn from FXCM Inc. accounts excluding Eligible Contract Participants, Clearing Accounts, Hong Kong, and Japan subsidiaries from 3/1/2014 to 3/31/2015. Interested in developing your own strategy? On page 2 of our Building Confidence in Trading Guide, we help you identify your trading style and create your own trading plan. View the next articles in the Traits of Successful Series: Trading Leverage - A Real Look at How Traders May Use it Effectively Do the Hours I Trade Matter? Yes - Quite a Bit Analysis prepared and written by David Rodriguez, Quantitative Strategist for DailyFX.com   Data source: Derived from data from a major FX broker* across 15 most traded currency pairs from 3/1/2014 to 3/31/2015. Game Plan: What Strategy Can I Use? Trade forex with stops and limits set to a risk/reward ratio of 1:1 or higher Whenever you place a trade, make sure that you use a stop-loss order. Always make sure that your profit target is at least as far away from your entry price as your stop-loss is. You can certainly set your price target higher, and probably should aim for at least 1:1 regardless of strategy, potentially 2:1 or more in certain circumstances. Then you can choose the market direction correctly only half the time and still make money in your account. The actual distance you place your stops and limits will depend on the conditions in the market at the time, such as volatility, currency pair, and where you see support and resistance. You can apply the same reward/risk ratio to any trade. If you have a stop level 40 pips away from entry, you should have a profit target 40 pips or more away. If you have a stop level 500 pips away, your profit target should be at least 500 pips away. We will use this as a basis for further study on real trader behavior as we look to uncover the traits of successful traders. *Data is drawn from FXCM Inc. accounts excluding Eligible Contract Participants, Clearing Accounts, Hong Kong, and Japan subsidiaries from 3/1/2014 to 3/31/2015. Interested in developing your own strategy? On page 2 of our Building Confidence in Trading Guide, we help you identify your trading style and create your own trading plan. View the next articles in the Traits of Successful Series: Trading Leverage - A Real Look at How Traders May Use it Effectively Do the Hours I Trade Matter? Yes - Quite a Bit Analysis prepared and written by David Rodriguez, Quantitative Strategist for DailyFX.com   Data source: Derived from data from a major FX broker* across 15 most traded currency pairs from 3/1/2014 to 3/31/2015. Game Plan: What Strategy Can I Use? Trade forex with stops and limits set to a risk/reward ratio of 1:1 or higher Whenever you place a trade, make sure that you use a stop-loss order. Always make sure that your profit target is at least as far away from your entry price as your stop-loss is. You can certainly set your price target higher, and probably should aim for at least 1:1 regardless of strategy, potentially 2:1 or more in certain circumstances. Then you can choose the market direction correctly only half the time and still make money in your account. The actual distance you place your stops and limits will depend on the conditions in the market at the time, such as volatility, currency pair, and where you see support and resistance. You can apply the same reward/risk ratio to any trade. If you have a stop level 40 pips away from entry, you should have a profit target 40 pips or more away. If you have a stop level 500 pips away, your profit target should be at least 500 pips away. We will use this as a basis for further study on real trader behavior as we look to uncover the traits of successful traders. *Data is drawn from FXCM Inc. accounts excluding Eligible Contract Participants, Clearing Accounts, Hong Kong, and Japan subsidiaries from 3/1/2014 to 3/31/2015. Interested in developing your own strategy? On page 2 of our Building Confidence in Trading Guide, we help you identify your trading style and create your own trading plan. View the next articles in the Traits of Successful Series: Trading Leverage - A Real Look at How Traders May Use it Effectively Do the Hours I Trade Matter? Yes - Quite a Bit Analysis prepared and written by David Rodriguez, Quantitative Strategist for DailyFX.com     View the next articles in the Traits of Successful Series: Trading Leverage - A Real Look at How Traders May Use it Effectively Do the Hours I Trade Matter? Yes - Quite a Bit Analysis prepared and written by David Rodriguez, Quantitative Strategist for DailyFX.com
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