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Thursday, 15 April 2010

Why Traders Fail

Courtesy of Conrad Alvin Lim
Link to original article: http://www.conradalvinlim.com/?p=2422

This lesson looks at the most popular reason why most Traders get wiped out – The Hype

Through the years, trading has always been a pipe dream for most who wanted to get filthy rich. With the advancements in technology over the last decade, this pipe dream has been brought closer to home than ever before. Today, it is a very accessible dream to anyone and everyone. All you need is a computer and an internet connection.

And of course, you need the right kind of market.

This is where the hype starts. We have been over-exposed to all sorts of advertising and promotional rah-rah that makes us believe that it is actually possible to make that fortune a reality. We see ads with winners making really fantastic profits from a single trade and we hear of friends who make a living from trading and living the good life. We see the rich and famous on TV that have made fortunes in the market. We read about people making fortunes from the comfort of their homes.

We believe we can be one of them. Worse, we believe it is really that easy.

What we don’t see in most cases is the real ugly truth. We don’t get to see losers, we never see the many hundreds or thousands that get wiped out and we definitely never hear what happens to the few winners when the market turns.

We never get to see how difficult it is for those successful few to make that living. We don’t see how much studying, hard work and endless hours of practice it takes to achieve that “easy” life. We definitely don’t hear about how much losses were accrued before the wealth accumulation started.

When the market is rallying at full steam, you always get to see new gurus hyping up their courses, authors of all sorts publishing their version of making a fortune from the market and everyone rushing to brokerages to get an account open. Workshops of all kinds will be touting their software that makes profits without the trader having to put in much effort. Some gurus will adapt their classes to ride the trend of the market – if Options is the way to go, you’ll get Options teachers by the dozens … if Forex is the flavor of the trend, then that’s what you’ll get lots of.

The market in itself is a hype. When everything is running up the charts, it is so easy to make money from the market. Everyone seems to be getting in on the action when a bull run is in full steam. The hype worsens as these bull-run winners put more money into the market to help the rally climb even higher. Pretty much like what is happening in our property market today. The aunties and uncles at the coffee shop also seem to have the best tips and everyone in the neighborhood is an expert at stock picking.

Scandals also abound when the market is in full hype. Hedge funds and pillion-trading are two of the many ways these scandals begin. In some recent cases, the owner of the fund or hedge starts spending the money even before the fund is profitable. This adds to the hype. We see fund managers driving fancy sports cars and living it up in penthouse condos and sprawling landed properties. Everyone wants that life and the market can give it to you.

So the average Joe, or in our case, Ah Seng, joins the hype bandwagon and puts his hard earned money into a few bets in the market. It makes money for sure. The bull run continues. So Ah Seng buys more and grows his wealth. He tells his friend, Ah Huat about it and he joins the bandwagon. Soon, the market is flooded with Ah Sengs and Ah Huats who know little about the danger they just got themselves into.

The fact is, the market had already been running up like mad which is where all the hype came from. By the time the new gurus, workshops and books emerge, the rally is almost always halfway there. This is when the aunties and uncles get wind of the easy money and this brings on the Sengs and Huats. Next thing you know, the market is over-cooked. Yet it continues to rally, albeit on suspiciously lower volumes.

The lower volumes are an indication that the smart money is already sidelined and waiting for the inevitable. The smart money knows when to get out and stay out. They know because the ignorant money has started to flood the market.

When the market is greedy, you should be fearful.” ~ Warren Buffet

Then the inevitable happens – the market stutters and falters … the easy money slows down … volatility begins to rule the market … the ignorant money slowly realize that they have left their arses hanging in the wind without protection. But they’ll continue to live in denial because of the hype.

The market slides south. But not in a hyped-up crash, mind you. The market is a sneaky place that gives you more rope than you need to hang yourself repeatedly. It takes a slow and steady slide with the occasional bull-trap to keep the ignorant money believing that the correction is a “normal” thing in this business. After a brief reprieve to bring hope to those living in denial and possibly bring in more ignorant money, the market continues its sneaky slide south. This goes on for a while and before the ignorant money realizes it, more than half the investment is down the toilet.

By this time, some of the gurus quietly “disappear” from the press, some workshops cease to exist, software traders start complaining that the system is not working as promised, fund managers appear in the news for the wrong reasons and my class starts filling out with dozens of traders looking for a fix and a more realistic way to survive the market.

The market gets down to an impossible low. Gone is the hype and all that came with it. In its wake, it leaves a massive trail of destroyed lives and emptied bank accounts. The market is now “a dangerous place” when it was once a dream maker. The market is a “casino” when it was once an ATM. When the hype is all gone along with the money, people get serious and stay away from the market.

This is when the smart money returns.

And this starts a new hype cycle that brings in the new ignorant money.

The question you should be asking is not; “when will the ignorant money start to suffer?
If you thought of asking that question, YOU are the ignorant money.

The only question you should be asking is; “How do I become the Smart Money?

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