Saturday, October 18, 2008


It doesn't matter how bad your screw-up was, if you recognize it as a screw-up, if you are able to see, why it happened, you are already on your way out of the woods.
Losing 30% of your account in one day? With the recent turmoil in the markets it can happen and has happened to more than one trader I know.
But the question is, what do you do next? Why did it happen? Was it your system, which made you consistently money in the past, only to be lost within a few bad bad trades, or did you change your own behavior, your own responses to the market.

Certain trading techniques work great in a ranging or slightly trending market. But if the range/trend goes 500 points as you see in the YM recently only to reverse within the next 30 minutes, any trading method designed to scale into a trade, when it is at a loss, might not work, because the range is just too high. It worked in calmer markets, but it does not work right now, as you can't afford the risk involved.

Did you ever try to swim in the ocean, when the waves are between 1 and 2 or 3 meters? When they go beyond? If you are not careful and a wave breaks over you, and you are pressed under water, struggle to come up, only to have the next wave break above you again, you might feel real panic. Only by calming yourself and diving below the next wave instead of tumbling around, will you reach the surface again and be able to swim to shore.

Using trading methods, which worked for years will kill your account in this environment. But the problem is not your trading approach, your trading rules. They are most likely still sound, even if we have very high volatility.
Good trading rules work on small intraday timeframes as well as on daily charts. The only difference is, that the risk and the possible reward increase the higher the timeframe becomes.
Currently we see daily or weekly ranges made within minutes and hours. But that doesn't mean, you won't get good trade entry signals.
But your money management rules, they need adjusting!

Why are you a daytrader? I know, why I'm a daytrader. I can't afford the risk associated with holding overnight. My targets are smaller and the risk I take is smaller, as I place the stop nearer. But right now -as we all know- we see daily ranges within minutes. That means you need to adjust your stop or you get stopped out a lot more often than you are used to. Most of us trade with targets. If the Internet connection breaks down, at least a stop and a target order are placed. But did you adjust your target to the higher volatility, to compensate for the wider stop?
Most likely not, because you trained yourself to be content with 10 or 20 points even if the market ran another 100 points after you exited. Adjusting this is very difficult, as you need to overcome your fear of losing paper profits.
And, at least I, can sit calmly in a trade in the red, as long as my stop is not hit, waiting for it to return to green, while sitting in a green trade for a longer time always urges me to take profits now, instead of waiting for the next leg and the continuation of the trend.
Adjust your maximum position size. If you scale into a trade adjust the levels at which you scale in. be prepared to go out in a moments notice, if the trade does not work, because some moves just don't stop at the moment.

If you lost high, do what you always do, see where you failed and continue trading your signals. You can't climb out of a 30% loss in a day. But if you have a sound system, it will work in this environment, if you adjust your money management rules. And once you made it back, don't relax, continue doing what you did to climb out of the hole, so you can start the next leg up in your account.