Learn Why Every Trader
Needs a Trading Plan Now!!!
Each time you fire up the trading software, you transport yourself into the world of global markets. You are traveling! Your purpose for traveling into this world…is profit; returning home with profit is your short-term goal. Long-term, you are likely in search of capital growth, stability, income and longevity. Experienced travelers use travel plans to venture from one location to another, and Michael Glass strongly recommends trade plans for the stock market traveler.
The alternative is risk attraction. Travel risk directly threatens your short-term goal of profit; but more importantly, it assaults your long-term goals of capital growth and longevity. Whether traveling to an unfamiliar city or into the global stock market via trading, the risks are the same. Risk in the form of: Getting lost, Wasting time, Capital mismanagement and strained decision making, Confusion, Late to the party, Unnecessary surprise, Fear, and even running short of funds before the trip ends. The risks are many and the list continues, but the point is: Effective trade plans inherently acknowledge the risks of trading and prepare you for them.
When we trade, we aren’t simply traveling down the street to our local food market (a short jaunt we can make with eyes closed). No. More accurately, as traders, we are traveling to foreign countries…trips that require maps, research, preparation and planning. This is why keen stock traders develop trade plans. Trade plans provide us with every advantage of the travel plan. Think of yourself as a global market traveler.
Viewed in their most encompassing light, trade plans are the means by which we become self-sufficient traders…they define our personal ownership of intent to succeed. Your macro or master trade plan…creates foundation and future objective by answering questions large in scope: Where do I begin (departure), Where am I going (destination), and How will I get there (your chosen route).
Viewed in their most focused light, micro or daily trade plans…are the means by which we ensure the least risk and safest return on each trip or individual trade. At this level we answer questions smaller in scope, but no less vital than the ones above: What indicators do I use, How much do I purchase, What loss do I accept, What profit is enough etc.
Between the master trade plan and the daily trade plan, you will develop your own unique trade plan philosophy; you will build a foundation, access and make the best use of your experience and resources…develop organization, repeatability and documentation. More than just a valuable trading tool, trade plans become a valuable training tool. In essence, trade plans allow you to learn, grow, adapt, develop pattern and routine, and ultimately prepare you for the day you get lost (it may happen within a specific trade and only last a few hours, or 3 years along into your global market travels and last for months…but at some point we all experience the emotion of ‘lost’). Trade plans provide us with the ability to respond to this emotional reality, in a way that furthers our growth and trading goals.
Does this sound complex, time consuming or daunting? It’s not. Trade plans present themselves more naturally than one would think. Remember, all we are talking about here, is developing a travel plan!
How do I get from my house to my business conference: How much will it cost, will I drive or fly, what will I pack, who will I know? What city will I be in, how does the weather look, what comforts do I require? Translate these questions into trading terminology and you have: How do I get from my computer to a stock I want to buy, how much will it cost, will I buy 200 shares or 2000, what tools will I need and what indicators will I use; will I trade alone or with a group…who do I know? What Stock Exchange will I trade, is current market sentiment sunny or cloudy, what aspects of trading am I most comfortable with, and what comforts do I require?
You see? We desire more than simple strategies when venturing into the global market; Strategies alone will not produce self-sufficiency. Yes…we can charter a bus (find ourselves a stock picker), and allow this person to shuttle us along on a pre-packaged sightseeing tour…these can be fun once in a while; there are even benefits to this strategy. But it certainly isn’t free of charge. And what happens on the day we sleep in and miss the bus? We’ve already paid in full and now we’re left standing outside the motel holding the bag: lost. Well, if you’ve been reading along with interest, you’ve already begun the researching process, developing your trade plan and building the foundation of self-sufficiency; you aren’t planning these trips for fun—but for profit first, and capital growth to follow.
So lets begin the first leg of this trip together, with a discussion of what will become a cornerstone of your trade plan development…maps!
Maps have been a staple of human development since the beginning of time, and the concept of maps in tandem with the development of a trade plan will serve you well as a trader. As a people, we have mapped the stars, the continents and the weather—cities, roads and rivers. We have in fact mapped history! The world of markets is so tremendously large; traveling into the realm of them would be foolhardy without a reliable set of maps. As a trader new to the profession, we use maps for direction. As a trader in the midst of our adventure, we use maps for efficient and effective navigation. As a trader nearing the end of our journey (daily or yearly), we use maps to plot the way back home.
Maps provide 3 key elements: Scale, Compass and Substance
1. Maps provide scale: Sites such as Google Maps operate so seamlessly, it’s easy to dismiss the concept of scale; yet, each time we click ‘zoom’ we view a brand new map with its own unique boundaries. The same rules apply to charting software and to all facets of our trading research. Choosing the proper scale—and zooming between multiple scales—is everything when it comes to trading.
2. Maps provide compass: studying a good map will lead us to ask the most expedient questions and point us in a direction that furthers our travels, our research and our trade plan development. It’s often tempting to view our maps and trade plans “as-the-crow-flies.” However, identifying our starting point and our end goal—or our entry and our exit—is only the beginning. Twists and turns of every magnitude await us in between departure and destination; we require a sound sense of compass to stay on course.
3. Maps provide substance: Each map informs us of something different and valuable concerning where we are in a trade. Weather maps for example, relate well to market sentiment—economic calendars, earnings, upgrades and downgrades—information that affects the climate surrounding our area of interest. But even a great map will get us lost if we use it for the wrong purpose. Learning to evaluate each map’s legend is the key to understanding substance.
In order to demonstrate how the elements of scale, compass and substance work within the framework of trade plans—and how this concept of maps relates directly to traders—we need to begin with an example and common frame of reference. So, lets look at how we may link traders and maps, by developing one vision of a physical backdrop to the world of global markets; the world we intend to travel and trade within:
Countries: Think of our countries as the Stock Exchanges (NASDAQ, NYSE, AMEX, CBOE, etc). All countries have their own unique set of laws, customs and traditions—and exhibit unique behaviors.
States/Provinces: Think of our States/Provinces as market Sectors (Energy, Financial, Health Care, Utilities, Consumer Staples etc).
Cities: Think of our cities as the market Indices. We have large cities like DJI, NDX, SPX…and Smaller cities like QQQQ, DJTA, DJU, and SML.
Towns: Think of our towns as individual Stocks (From YHOO and MSFT to SIRI and AMD).
Roads, Weather, Statistics, and News: Think of these particulars and others like them as our Indicators—everything from longitude and latitude, to population, climate and topography (Bollinger bands, Volume, Oscillators, Moving Averages, Stochastic etc). Indicators fill in the detail. They sell us on a destination and with proper scale, allow us to navigate confidently—covering overall appeal, and right down to the decision of do we turn right or left at the next signal.
The particular combinations of maps we use are unique, personal and change as our trading careers change. And while the above outline provides a starting point, the style of trader we become influences the style and development of the maps we use (and ultimately influences the style and development of our trade plans). An options trader and a day-trader have different plans for an identical stock, just as a mountain climber and a wine connoisseur have quite different plans when traveling to Paris. Yet, the foundations for safe and efficient travel remain the same and before each traveler diverges towards their own specific interest, each reviews many of the same maps, information and travel routes.
For example, how would you research a trip to Embakasi? (Never heard of it? Good. This is a familiar experience for travelers within the world of global trading, isn’t it?) The process is the same when deciding to venture into an equally unfamiliar stock like XYYZ. First we pull up maps, and then we develop trade plans. A map of Embakasi doesn’t tell us much at first—we need to zoom out. Zooming out, we notice the Mombasa Road leading to Nairobi—our first bit of recognition. Pull back further and “aha!” We know exactly where we are, in the East African country of Kenya. Each scale of map has provided useful information, substance, questions, research direction and compass. And we will need each of these elements to develop our trade plan, as we zoom back in and plot our trip to Embakasi.
We use the same starting process to develop a daily trade plan for XYYZ: How do we ‘locate’ this stock within the market and what information do we need? A map of XYYZ doesn’t tell us much about the stock’s location and so we zoom out. What picture does the macro scale reveal? Does it sell us on the trip? Do we have an “aha” moment when identifying the exchange, index or sector? Now we begin zooming back in and organizing the specifics of our trade plan. We pull up detailed maps and pour over our indicators (New high, low volume, great news, upper Bollinger band and an overbought oscillator). Now we can make an informed decision about this trip. Is it a daily trip we’re comfortable making? Is it a trip that makes sense in view of our long-term travel plans? Are we experienced enough and do we have the money and the time etc?
The alternative to acknowledging the risks of trading and preparing for them: is risk attraction. If we wouldn’t dream of waking up tomorrow and boarding a flight to Embakasi—without so much as pulling up a map or packing a suitcase—then we can consider this scenario when the impulse strikes to purchase XYYZ in the middle of our work day. Expand this to encompass an excursion that will last a year, and the case for a master trade plan becomes more concrete! How many twists and turns will present themselves between departure and destination? How will we keep our compass? Who will wire us money on this journey, if we run ourselves broke thousands of miles from home? Lost.
Think! Where am I—at this moment—within the market and within my long-term objectives? This understanding takes you out of the realm of simple strategy…and puts you into the realm of trade plans. Thought of in these terms, it hopefully becomes more clear where you need to start when researching your next move—whether that moves relates to the foundation of your master trade plan, your trade plan for the upcoming week, or your trade plan for a particular buy, sell, or hold. Whether you consider bounce trading, option trading, penny stock, index, or futures trading, you will find and develop maps that help you determine what research is needed in order to execute these trade plans successfully. Don’t rely on instinct…research and plan your travels.
In this way, it is helpful to view your master trade plan as a large map in and of itself—because trade plans embrace all the positive advantages and reliabilities that maps provide. The trade plan and the map improve the odds of reaching a destination safely, they save time, money and resources: they allow us to retrace steps efficiently, to develop travel logs that document and organize various methods and paths of reaching the same destination: trade plans and maps provide flexibility and reference, allow us to compare results, to quickly create alternate routes in case of changes beyond our control: they prevent wrong turns, casual errors, and when we do get lost…they allow us to quickly and safely get back on track.
Trade plans make sense. And when thought of as travel plans, they become attainable and less mysterious. View yourself as a market traveler and develop a trade plan that reflects your experience and means. Travel safely out there…and drop Michael Glass of AccendoTraders.com a postcard sometime.