If you have done even a little bit of research into the world of trading, you will know that there are many books on how to become a better trader.
One book that gets mentioned time and again as a trading classic is “Market Wizards: Interviews with Top Traders” by Jack Schwager. First published in 1989, it’s a collection of conversations with some of America's legendary traders, who made millions from the financial markets. It’s well worth having on your bookshelf.
Here are tips from some of the world’s best traders featured in the book that really stand the test of time:
Traders have different approaches, timescales and can trade across various markets. All successful traders have a methodology to analyse the markets that works for them – from short-term changes in price during the day to looking to catch major trends over months and sometimes even years. It is important to find an approach that fits your own “trading personality”. If you do not feel comfortable with a strategy then chances are that it will not be successful for you.
All the traders mentioned the importance of risk control. There are a couple of elements to this. It is important to trade at a size that does not have a material effect on your account if you are wrong. It is also good practice to have a level in mind (or a stop loss placed on your trade). If this level is hit or stop loss triggered, you admit you are wrong and take the loss. Once again, it's that familiar trait, or discipline, that played a major part in their success over the years.
Linked to the risk control aspect is the acceptance of losses. Experienced traders know that taking manageable losses is part of the business of trading, but it is something that many of us struggle with in the beginning. A series of winning trades can easily be wiped out by one loss if you let it go on for too long. The traders interviewed had confidence in their approach of winning over the long term, so did not have a problem with admitting they were wrong and taking losses along the way.
The traders took their market analysis and time devoted to executing and managing trades very seriously, often devoting large chunks of their waking hours to their work on the markets. They weren’t just having a punt now and again or trading on a hunch. There are no shortcuts when it comes to trading success, but the effort they put in was clear from their results.
Many of the traders interviewed said that patience played a big part – waiting for the right opportunity to come along. This ties in with a quote from another classic trading book: “Reminiscences of a Stock Operator”, written about a legendary trader called Jesse Livermore who was active in the 1920s. He said that it wasn’t his doing that made money, but his sitting on his hands. This applies to waiting for the right opportunity, and then holding the trade to maximise profits. Nearly 100 years later, it’s an approach still used by successful traders and one echoed by the many interviewees in Schwager’s book.
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