TRADING MUST BE TREATED LIKE A BUSINESS


I always laugh when I think about the movie “Brewster’s Millions”, where Brewster (Richard Pryor) the main character must spend 30 million dollars within 1 month to inherit 300 million, and all the trouble he had doing it. I could have shown him a way to blow all of it, with no repercussions, in less than a day by investing in short term (out of the money) options.

But seriously, this is one of the most important parts of trading, if your unaware of the statistics and don’t understand the risks thoroughly you will never make money regardless of how well you pick your trades; you may even expose yourself to financial ruin. Consider that winning traders are often wrong more than 40-60% of the time.- the trick is to make more money when your right and have a higher percentage of winning on a given trade than loosing on it.

Keep track of risk/ reward ratios. Keep to 3-8% risk (margin requirement) per position. I Utilize only 1/2 of funds (trading account balance) –with each months profit I will reinvest ½ of of it and transfer the remaining 1/2 into a savings/checking acct. Utilize 3 up 1 down Reward/risk on your trades if possible. Some traders like to work with multiple stocks/sectors simultaneously and utilize multiple strategies ( I.E. use a mixture of trades where some profit by time erosion, some profit with movement, some for last minute profit and some positions for LT profit.)

When deciding what type of strategies to use consider the overall market environment as mentioned later in this article. If you have only 1 or 2 positions then engineer them as reverse neutral or bi-directional, be prepared for periods of no profit. Counter intuitive as it may seem- Having more money on the table (properly allocated) reduces risk and increases the chances of success. Use professional recommendations and do your research to determine these positions. Have enough funds in your account to meet margin if you get called out or put to, otherwise you’ll be faced with a margin call. You must have your account funded appropriately or you will suffer missed profit opportunities. Think Balance and think skim (incremental profits) rather than expecting or relying on windfall profits for your gains.

Ideally, your account should be funded at a minimum of 18 – 20K for optimal advantage. Hold to a maximum of 3-5% investment in individual stocks, 5-18% in ETF and sector positions and 20-30% for index positions. You can use trade triggers and/or limit orders to get out of upside down positions.

The Following is the best explanation I could find: (Taken from a twitter by Joe Rotger) “The geometric mean First, I’ll start with a very simple but outstanding concept, it’s called the Geometric Mean (GM), sounds scary, but essentially it’s the “per trade return” (or growth) of your stake for the series of trades under evaluation. For example, let’s say that after 10 trades you’ve increased your stake from 100 to 150 units (I’ll call them contracts from now on, although, it could very well be 100 share lots). In this case we would calculate GM in the following way: GM = (150/100) ^ 1/10 = 1.5 ^ 0.1 = 1.0414 Or, in other words, the growth per trade GM is 4.14%, for a total growth after 10 trades of 50%.

Now, let’s step back a little, I specifically highlighted the outstanding significance of the GM concept based on the fact that GM has to be first and foremost greater than 0%. If your system produces negative growth, obviously, you’re losing money; go back to the drawing board and look for something else! None of the math we’ll be seeing will ever improve your system… And, of course, the best system is the one with the greatest GM. Hold it there. It seems too simple to be true… Unfortunately, we have to throw in a couple of more nuances to really have an optimal system. But, look at it on the bright side, we’ll be protecting our fannies, – a small price to pay…

Optimum allocation of funds The first inescapable reality is that the portion of our account at risk affects our returns. Let’s go from one extreme to the other to clarify. If you place 100% of your account at risk on every trade, it will take very little time to wipe you out… On the other hand, if you put 1/1000 of your account at risk on every trade, you’ll probably never get wiped out, but your returns will be awful, better put your money in a savings account… So, there’s obviously an optimum allocation somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. In order to find this optimum, we define f as the ratio of the biggest loss per contract involved. Or, in other words, f = biggest loss per contract / stake per contract. And, we will look for an optimal f where GM is maximized. Let’s look at the following sequence of trade results, where our stake on each trade is $1,000: -$250, $300, $500, -$100, $500 For this example, f = 250 / 1000 = 0.25. And, we also need a relation between GM and f. As usual, I’ve oversimplified this process to get quickly to the bone.

For those wanting further background of the following formula take a look at Empirical Techniques in Ralph Vince’s book: Mathematics of Money Management. I’ll only add that this relation not only considers fractional but also reinvestment of wins in subsequent trades: GM = [{1 + (f * (-T1 / BL))} ^ (1/N)] * [{1 + (f * (-T2 / BL))} ^ (1/N)] * … …[{1 + (f * (-TN / BL))} ^ (1/N)] , where T = Profit or loss for a trade with the sign reversed; so a win ends with a – sign, and a loss with a + sign. BL = Biggest loss per contract of all N trades, always a negative number. N = Total number of trades involved. So, in order to find optimal f (and subsequently, the optimal number of contracts to trade), we must iterate for different f values. For our previous example, the calculations in a spread sheet give the following results:

GM (f =0.1) = [{1 + (0.1 * (250 / -250))} ^ (1/5)] * [{1 + (0.1 * (-300 / -250))} ^ (1/5)] *[{1 + (0.1 * (-500 / -250))} ^ (1/5)] * [{1 + (0.1 * (100 / -250))} ^ (1/5)] *[{1 + (0.1 * (-500 / -250))} ^ (1/5)] = 1.068609059 GM (f = 0.1) = 1.068609059 GM (f = 0.2) = 1.123339717 GM (f = 0.3) = 1.164855131 GM (f = 0.4) = 1.193019253 GM (f = 0.5) = 1.206835267 GM (f = 0.6) = 1.204063741 So, optimal f = 0.5, because GM(f = 0.6) is declining. Hence, for a biggest loss of $250, we determine from our f relation the number of contracts by considering 1 contract per $500 of our equity account. As a warning, I’d like to transcribe Ralph Vince’s remarks from his Mathematical Methods book: “We know that if we are using optimal f when we are fixed fractional trading, we can expect substantial drawdowns in terms of percentage equity retracements. Optimal f is like plutonium. It gives you a tremendous amount of power, yet it is dreadfully dangerous. These substantial drawdowns are the problem, particularly for novices, in that trading at the optimal f level gives them the chance to experience a cataclysmic loss sooner than they ordinarily might have.” And he goes on to state: “You will have enormous difficulty in finding a portfolio with at least 5 years of historical data to it and all market systems employing the optimal f that has had any less than a 30% drawdown in terms of equity retracement! This is regardless of how many markets you employ. If you want to be in this and be mathematically correct, you better expect to be nailed for 30% to 95% equity retracements. This takes enormous discipline, and very few people can emotionally handle this”. In order to protect ourselves from a naked exposure, one should seek to cover the risk by spending some resources into buying some alternative derivative (LO options) of the underlying (CL futures); therefore, improving the method altogether.



For the mathematicians among you here are some additional money management strategies you may want to research:


1. Dollar to equity = (Net Income/Total Equity ) X 100 [10%-30% is reasonable if not leveraged]

2. Equity percentage = Investors equity/Total account value [Must satisify Brokerage requirements]

3. fixed fraction = N= f * Equity/ !Trade Risk! [where N is the nbr of contracts, f = fixed fraction (between 0 and 1), Equity is the current value of account equity, !is absolute value!

4. Fixed trade size (Fixed position size (proportion) base on total size of account)

5. Fixed risk (Fixed Risk on each position and/or entire account) 6. Optimal f = biggest loss per contract / stake per contract. Geometric Mean (GM) =”per trade return” (or growth) of your stake for the series of trades under evaluation.

Also consider:
1. Diversification within markets. One should have a mix in Stocks, bonds, Currencies, commodities or at least look at using all of these possibilities at one time or another
2. Diversification within trading methods. One should set up themselves to profit in both directions and use TEM (time erosion trades). One also must consider the state of the market or markets when choosing a method as markets change over time

3. Diversification within sectors and/or commodities.
One should work with at least 5-8.

4. Proper allocation of funds using mathematical models. ([MR*3) + LOG + MD] /3) = Minimum Trading Capital Where the MR is the Margin Requirement or the amount of money required by the the brokerage to put on the trade, LOG is the largest overnight gap that the security or commodity has and MD is the Maximum drawdown is the most your trade can lose based on the investments worst performance.

5. Margin to Equity Ratio. The industry standard is 30%. Simply add up the margin requirements for each trade then divide that number by the total dollars in the account. That would be the MEO for the entire portfolio.

6. Correlation coefficient How closely 2 markets track one another in terms of their respective price fluctuations. +1 – (-1). 7. This can be calculated using an excel spreadsheet once you collect the historical data.

7. Standard Deviation Using one standard deviation encompasses approx. 93% of the data. 3 standard deviations encompasses 99% of the data.

8. Category Diversification We have talked about sector diversification. Another type of diversification key to money management consists of using these 5 stock categories: Gold, High Yield dividend, Speculative, Foreign and Growth.


Here are a few of the common market risks


Inflation risk– The risk associated with the inflation of the dollar or other currency.

Credit risk – The risk associated with an investment not backed by the government due to the default possibility.

Liquidity risk– The risk associated with not getting the latest fair value of an instrument due to the lack of trading participants.

Currency risk – The risk associated with trading within 2 different currencies as one currency is devalued against the other.

A) Gold is merited by its tendency to go up when stocks go down and at the very least it doesn’t correlate with other areas of the market, in other words it’s an excellent hedge for your portfolio.

B) High yield dividend stocks above 4% offer a unique compounding opportunity since yields generally go up when its stock goes down, at least this is true in financially sound companies. Some ways to verify this is by examining the EPS against the dividend payout. If the EPS growth rate is 2 or more times the dividend payout then you can be assured. However, Be wary of dividend payments that far exceed 4%. Understanding cash flow and company debt is another method. Speculative stocks is a third method. Just make sure you lock in profits when you have them and never plan on marrying these securities. These are usually stocks under ten dollars.

C) Foreign stocks offer you the opportunity to take advantage of prospering markets outside the US. Especially attractive when the US is not doing well.

D) Lastly, growth stocks offer the opportunity for quick gain in secular stocks – stocks that are somewhat independent of overall economic health, I.E. Starbucks. Make sure you stay out of the cyclical stocks, I.E. Industrial (1) Mad Money (Jim Cramer) 8/5/13 .


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