“Go with your gut.”
Yeah right. That’s advice to doom you at the currency exchange game.
When it comes to forex trading, that’s a trading strategy that is bound to lose you money – unless your gut is highly trained and impervious to emotion. The trick to making money in the currency exchange market is to avoid making emotional decisions and follow a carefully thought out strategy that takes the current market and history into account.
Forex trading is a highly volatile market. Emotions tend to run high – and low – and either of those extremes can influence your trading decisions, unless you have a strategy planned in advance, and stick to it, no matter what you THINK you’re seeing at the moment. The keys to success in Forex are system, analysis and perseverance. Note that emotion is not one of them. Going with your gut is a losing proposition in forex trading.
Letting your emotions rule your decisions can hurt your trading in several different ways. It’s the reason that most experienced traders tell novice traders that they need to develop a system – and stick to it no matter what. The system tells you when to buy, what to buy, when to trade and what to trade for. By sticking to your system even when you want to fly in the face of accumulated data, you’ll maximize your profits.
A system based on technical analysis of historical market trends is one of the most potent tools that you can utilize if you’re just getting started in forex trading – and many traders with years of experience continue to use their system to keep the profits rolling in. In fact, many will tell you that when their ‘gut instinct’ and their system collide, the system is almost always right.
The third key is perseverance. Analysis of trends in the market will show you that the market moves in dips and spurts within overall patterns that are predictable. No trend moves smoothly in an up or down line – there are inevitable periods of time when values suddenly spiral up or down based on some outside factor. These are the times when emotion can hurt your portfolio. When a currency that you’re holding takes a sudden dip south, it’s tempting to succumb to panic trading, cut your losses and run even if your system tells you to hold on. On the other hand, it’s easy to catch the rising excitement as a trade starts increasing in value and scramble to buy more of the same. These are exactly the times to rely most heavily on your trading system. It will tell you exactly when to trade for maximum profit.
Using a mechanical system takes the emotion out of your trading, eliminating one of the key factors that people fail. Your system doesn’t get stubborn about proving a theory. It isn’t swayed by bad news, or elated by good news. It doesn’t hold onto a bad trade hoping against hope that if it just holds on long enough, the trend will turn around and become a moneymaker.
To be effective, your system – whether you develop your own or adopt one created by someone else – should identify the entry point of your trade, the exit point of your trade, mitigating factors, and an exit strategy. In laymen’s terms that means:
- Under what conditions should I acquire a currency?
For instance, you may have a buy order for when a particular currency drops more than 5 pips because your analysis tells you that that’s likely to be as low as it goes.
- Under what conditions should I trade that currency for another – and which one?
There are two reasons to exit – to maximize your profit, or minimize your loss. That means you have a set stop-loss order and a set take-profit order at which point to cash out your trade.
- What factors will I allow to change that decision?
If you’re not careful, this is where emotion will sour deals for you. While the money market moves in predictable patterns, there are always individual variations of a trend within those patterns. If you’ve taken those variations into account, it will be far easier to decide when a factor really does make a difference, and when it’s just wishful thinking.
- How will I trade out of a currency?
Your exit strategy may be as simple as ‘a stop-loss order when my loss hits 5% or a take-profit order when I’ll make 40% profit’.
By employing a system to tell you when to get in, out or stick, you’ll minimize the impact of your emotions on your trading and maximize your profit.