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H1 Backtest of ParallaxFX's BBStoch system
Disclaimer: None of this is financial advice. I have no idea what I'm doing. Please do your own research or you will certainly lose money. I'm not a statistician, data scientist, well-seasoned trader, or anything else that would qualify me to make statements such as the below with any weight behind them. Take them for the incoherent ramblings that they are. TL;DR at the bottom for those not interested in the details. This is a bit of a novel, sorry about that. It was mostly for getting my own thoughts organized, but if even one person reads the whole thing I will feel incredibly accomplished.
For those of you not familiar, please see the various threads on this trading system here. I can't take credit for this system, all glory goes to ParallaxFX! I wanted to see how effective this system was at H1 for a couple of reasons: 1) My current broker is TD Ameritrade - their Forex minimum is a mini lot, and I don't feel comfortable enough yet with the risk to trade mini lots on the higher timeframes(i.e. wider pip swings) that ParallaxFX's system uses, so I wanted to see if I could scale it down. 2) I'm fairly impatient, so I don't like to wait days and days with my capital tied up just to see if a trade is going to win or lose. This does mean it requires more active attention since you are checking for setups once an hour instead of once a day or every 4-6 hours, but the upside is that you trade more often this way so you end up winning or losing faster and moving onto the next trade. Spread does eat more of the trade this way, but I'll cover this in my data below - it ends up not being a problem. I looked at data from 6/11 to 7/3 on all pairs with a reasonable spread(pairs listed at bottom above the TL;DR). So this represents about 3-4 weeks' worth of trading. I used mark(mid) price charts. Spreadsheet link is below for anyone that's interested.
I'm pretty much using ParallaxFX's system textbook, but since there are a few options in his writeups, I'll include all the discretionary points here:
I'm using the stop entry version - so I wait for the price to trade beyond the confirmation candle(in the direction of my trade) before entering. I don't have any data to support this decision, but I've always preferred this method over retracement-limit entries. Maybe I just like the feeling of a higher winrate even though there can be greater R:R using a limit entry. Variety is the spice of life.
I put my stop loss right at the opposite edge of the confirmation candle. NOT at the edge of the 2-candle pattern that makes up the system. I'll get into this more below - not enough trades are saved to justify the wider stops. (Wider stop means less $ per pip won, assuming you still only risk 1%).
All my profit/loss statistics are based on a 1% risk per trade. Because 1 is real easy to multiply.
There are definitely some questionable trades in here, but I tried to make it as mechanical as possible for evaluation purposes. They do fit the definitions of the system, which is why I included them. You could probably improve the winrate by being more discretionary about your trades by looking at support/resistance or other techniques.
I didn't use MBB much for either entering trades, or as support/resistance indicators. Again, trying to be pretty mechanical here just for data collection purposes. Plus, we all make bad trading decisions now and then, so let's call it even.
As stated in the title, this is for H1 only. These results may very well not play out for other time frames - who knows, it may not even work on H1 starting this Monday. Forex is an unpredictable place.
I collected data to show efficacy of taking profit at three different levels: -61.8%, -100% and -161.8% fib levels described in the system using the passive trade management method(set it and forget it). I'll have more below about moving up stops and taking off portions of a position.
And now for the fun. Results!
Total Trades: 241
TP at -61.8%: 177 out of 241: 73.44%
TP at -100%: 156 out of 241: 64.73%
TP at -161.8%: 121 out of 241: 50.20%
Adjusted Proft % (takes spread into account):
TP at -61.8%: 5.22%
TP at -100%: 23.55%
TP at -161.8%: 29.14%
As you can see, a higher target ended up with higher profit despite a much lower winrate. This is partially just how things work out with profit targets in general, but there's an additional point to consider in our case: the spread. Since we are trading on a lower timeframe, there is less overall price movement and thus the spread takes up a much larger percentage of the trade than it would if you were trading H4, Daily or Weekly charts. You can see exactly how much it accounts for each trade in my spreadsheet if you're interested. TDA does not have the best spreads, so you could probably improve these results with another broker. EDIT: I grabbed typical spreads from other brokers, and turns out while TDA is pretty competitive on majors, their minors/crosses are awful! IG beats them by 20-40% and Oanda beats them 30-60%! Using IG spreads for calculations increased profits considerably (another 5% on top) and Oanda spreads increased profits massively (another 15%!). Definitely going to be considering another broker than TDA for this strategy. Plus that'll allow me to trade micro-lots, so I can be more granular(and thus accurate) with my position sizing and compounding.
A Note on Spread
As you can see in the data, there were scenarios where the spread was 80% of the overall size of the trade(the size of the confirmation candle that you draw your fibonacci retracements over), which would obviously cut heavily into your profits. Removing any trades where the spread is more than 50% of the trade width improved profits slightly without removing many trades, but this is almost certainly just coincidence on a small sample size. Going below 40% and even down to 30% starts to cut out a lot of trades for the less-common pairs, but doesn't actually change overall profits at all(~1% either way). However, digging all the way down to 25% starts to really make some movement. Profit at the -161.8% TP level jumps up to 37.94% if you filter out anything with a spread that is more than 25% of the trade width! And this even keeps the sample size fairly large at 187 total trades. You can get your profits all the way up to 48.43% at the -161.8% TP level if you filter all the way down to only trades where spread is less than 15% of the trade width, however your sample size gets much smaller at that point(108 trades) so I'm not sure I would trust that as being accurate in the long term. Overall based on this data, I'm going to only take trades where the spread is less than 25% of the trade width. This may bias my trades more towards the majors, which would mean a lot more correlated trades as well(more on correlation below), but I think it is a reasonable precaution regardless.
Time of Day
Time of day had an interesting effect on trades. In a totally predictable fashion, a vast majority of setups occurred during the London and New York sessions: 5am-12pm Eastern. However, there was one outlier where there were many setups on the 11PM bar - and the winrate was about the same as the big hours in the London session. No idea why this hour in particular - anyone have any insight? That's smack in the middle of the Tokyo/Sydney overlap, not at the open or close of either. On many of the hour slices I have a feeling I'm just dealing with small number statistics here since I didn't have a lot of data when breaking it down by individual hours. But here it is anyway - for all TP levels, these three things showed up(all in Eastern time):
7pm-4am: Fewer setups, but winrate high.
5am-6am: Lots of setups, but but winrate low.
12pm-3pm Medium number of setups, but winrate low.
I don't have any reason to think these timeframes would maintain this behavior over the long term. They're almost certainly meaningless. EDIT: When you de-dup highly correlated trades, the number of trades in these timeframes really drops, so from this data there is no reason to think these timeframes would be any different than any others in terms of winrate. That being said, these time frames work out for me pretty well because I typically sleep 12am-7am Eastern time. So I automatically avoid the 5am-6am timeframe, and I'm awake for the majority of this system's setups.
Moving stops up to breakeven
This section goes against everything I know and have ever heard about trade management. Please someone find something wrong with my data. I'd love for someone to check my formulas, but I realize that's a pretty insane time commitment to ask of a bunch of strangers. Anyways. What I found was that for these trades moving stops up...basically at all...actually reduced the overall profitability. One of the data points I collected while charting was where the price retraced back to after hitting a certain milestone. i.e. once the price hit the -61.8% profit level, how far back did it retrace before hitting the -100% profit level(if at all)? And same goes for the -100% profit level - how far back did it retrace before hitting the -161.8% profit level(if at all)? Well, some complex excel formulas later and here's what the results appear to be. Emphasis on appears because I honestly don't believe it. I must have done something wrong here, but I've gone over it a hundred times and I can't find anything out of place.
Moving SL up to 0% when the price hits -61.8%, TP at -100%
Adjusted Proft % (takes spread into account): 5.36%
Taking half position off at -61.8%, moving SL up to 0%, TP remaining half at -100%
Adjusted Proft % (takes spread into account): -1.01% (yes, a net loss)
Now, you might think exactly what I did when looking at these numbers: oof, the spread killed us there right? Because even when you move your SL to 0%, you still end up paying the spread, so it's not truly "breakeven". And because we are trading on a lower timeframe, the spread can be pretty hefty right? Well even when I manually modified the data so that the spread wasn't subtracted(i.e. "Breakeven" was truly +/- 0), things don't look a whole lot better, and still way worse than the passive trade management method of leaving your stops in place and letting it run. And that isn't even a realistic scenario because to adjust out the spread you'd have to move your stoploss inside the candle edge by at least the spread amount, meaning it would almost certainly be triggered more often than in the data I collected(which was purely based on the fib levels and mark price). Regardless, here are the numbers for that scenario:
Moving SL up to 0% when the price hits -61.8%, TP at -100%
Winrate(breakeven doesn't count as a win): 46.4%
Adjusted Proft % (takes spread into account): 17.97%
Taking half position off at -61.8%, moving SL up to 0%, TP remaining half at -100%
Winrate(breakeven doesn't count as a win): 65.97%
Adjusted Proft % (takes spread into account): 11.60%
From a literal standpoint, what I see behind this behavior is that 44 of the 69 breakeven trades(65%!) ended up being profitable to -100% after retracing deeply(but not to the original SL level), which greatly helped offset the purely losing trades better than the partial profit taken at -61.8%. And 36 went all the way back to -161.8% after a deep retracement without hitting the original SL. Anyone have any insight into this? Is this a problem with just not enough data? It seems like enough trades that a pattern should emerge, but again I'm no expert. I also briefly looked at moving stops to other lower levels (78.6%, 61.8%, 50%, 38.2%, 23.6%), but that didn't improve things any. No hard data to share as I only took a quick look - and I still might have done something wrong overall. The data is there to infer other strategies if anyone would like to dig in deep(more explanation on the spreadsheet below). I didn't do other combinations because the formulas got pretty complicated and I had already answered all the questions I was looking to answer.
2-Candle vs Confirmation Candle Stops
Another interesting point is that the original system has the SL level(for stop entries) just at the outer edge of the 2-candle pattern that makes up the system. Out of pure laziness, I set up my stops just based on the confirmation candle. And as it turns out, that is much a much better way to go about it. Of the 60 purely losing trades, only 9 of them(15%) would go on to be winners with stops on the 2-candle formation. Certainly not enough to justify the extra loss and/or reduced profits you are exposing yourself to in every single other trade by setting a wider SL. Oddly, in every single scenario where the wider stop did save the trade, it ended up going all the way to the -161.8% profit level. Still, not nearly worth it.
As I've said many times now, I'm really not qualified to be doing an analysis like this. This section in particular. Looking at shared currency among the pairs traded, 74 of the trades are correlated. Quite a large group, but it makes sense considering the sort of moves we're looking for with this system. This means you are opening yourself up to more risk if you were to trade on every signal since you are technically trading with the same underlying sentiment on each different pair. For example, GBP/USD and AUD/USD moving together almost certainly means it's due to USD moving both pairs, rather than GBP and AUD both moving the same size and direction coincidentally at the same time. So if you were to trade both signals, you would very likely win or lose both trades - meaning you are actually risking double what you'd normally risk(unless you halve both positions which can be a good option, and is discussed in ParallaxFX's posts and in various other places that go over pair correlation. I won't go into detail about those strategies here). Interestingly though, 17 of those apparently correlated trades ended up with different wins/losses. Also, looking only at trades that were correlated, winrate is 83%/70%/55% (for the three TP levels). Does this give some indication that the same signal on multiple pairs means the signal is stronger? That there's some strong underlying sentiment driving it? Or is it just a matter of too small a sample size? The winrate isn't really much higher than the overall winrates, so that makes me doubt it is statistically significant. One more funny tidbit: EUCAD netted the lowest overall winrate: 30% to even the -61.8% TP level on 10 trades. Seems like that is just a coincidence and not enough data, but dang that's a sucky losing streak. EDIT: WOW I spent some time removing correlated trades manually and it changed the results quite a bit. Some thoughts on this below the results. These numbers also include the other "What I will trade" filters. I added a new worksheet to my data to show what I ended up picking.
Total Trades: 75
TP at -61.8%: 84.00%
TP at -100%: 73.33%
TP at -161.8%: 60.00%
Moving SL up to 0% when the price hits -61.8%, TP at -100%: 53.33%
Taking half position off at -61.8%, moving SL up to 0%, TP remaining half at -100%: 53.33% (yes, oddly the exact same winrate. but different trades/profits)
Adjusted Proft % (takes spread into account):
TP at -61.8%: 18.13%
TP at -100%: 26.20%
TP at -161.8%: 34.01%
Moving SL up to 0% when the price hits -61.8%, TP at -100%: 19.20%
Taking half position off at -61.8%, moving SL up to 0%, TP remaining half at -100%: 17.29%
To do this, I removed correlated trades - typically by choosing those whose spread had a lower % of the trade width since that's objective and something I can see ahead of time. Obviously I'd like to only keep the winning trades, but I won't know that during the trade. This did reduce the overall sample size down to a level that I wouldn't otherwise consider to be big enough, but since the results are generally consistent with the overall dataset, I'm not going to worry about it too much. I may also use more discretionary methods(support/resistance, quality of indecision/confirmation candles, news/sentiment for the pairs involved, etc) to filter out correlated trades in the future. But as I've said before I'm going for a pretty mechanical system. This brought the 3 TP levels and even the breakeven strategies much closer together in overall profit. It muted the profit from the high R:R strategies and boosted the profit from the low R:R strategies. This tells me pair correlation was skewing my data quite a bit, so I'm glad I dug in a little deeper. Fortunately my original conclusion to use the -161.8 TP level with static stops is still the winner by a good bit, so it doesn't end up changing my actions. There were a few times where MANY (6-8) correlated pairs all came up at the same time, so it'd be a crapshoot to an extent. And the data showed this - often then won/lost together, but sometimes they did not. As an arbitrary rule, the more correlations, the more trades I did end up taking(and thus risking). For example if there were 3-5 correlations, I might take the 2 "best" trades given my criteria above. 5+ setups and I might take the best 3 trades, even if the pairs are somewhat correlated. I have no true data to back this up, but to illustrate using one example: if AUD/JPY, AUD/USD, CAD/JPY, USD/CAD all set up at the same time (as they did, along with a few other pairs on 6/19/20 9:00 AM), can you really say that those are all the same underlying movement? There are correlations between the different correlations, and trying to filter for that seems rough. Although maybe this is a known thing, I'm still pretty green to Forex - someone please enlighten me if so! I might have to look into this more statistically, but it would be pretty complex to analyze quantitatively, so for now I'm going with my gut and just taking a few of the "best" trades out of the handful. Overall, I'm really glad I went further on this. The boosting of the B/E strategies makes me trust my calculations on those more since they aren't so far from the passive management like they were with the raw data, and that really had me wondering what I did wrong.
What I will trade
Putting all this together, I am going to attempt to trade the following(demo for a bit to make sure I have the hang of it, then for keeps):
"System Details" I described above.
TP at -161.8%
Static SL at opposite side of confirmation candle - I won't move stops up to breakeven.
Trade only 7am-11am and 4pm-11pm signals.
Nothing where spread is more than 25% of trade width.
Looking at the data for these rules, test results are:
Adjusted Proft % (takes spread into account): 47.43%
I'll be sure to let everyone know how it goes!
Other Technical Details
ATR is only slightly elevated in this date range from historical levels, so this should fairly closely represent reality even after the COVID volatility leaves the scalpers sad and alone.
The sample size is much too small for anything really meaningful when you slice by hour or pair. I wasn't particularly looking to test a specific pair here - just the system overall as if you were going to trade it on all pairs with a reasonable spread.
Here's the spreadsheet for anyone that'd like it. (EDIT: Updated some of the setups from the last few days that have fully played out now. I also noticed a few typos, but nothing major that would change the overall outcomes. Regardless, I am currently reviewing every trade to ensure they are accurate.UPDATE: Finally all done. Very few corrections, no change to results.) I have some explanatory notes below to help everyone else understand the spiraled labyrinth of a mind that put the spreadsheet together.
I'm on the East Coast in the US, so the timestamps are Eastern time.
Time stamp is from the confirmation candle, not the indecision candle. So 7am would mean the indecision candle was 6:00-6:59 and the confirmation candle is 7:00-7:59 and you'd put in your order at 8:00.
I found a couple AM/PM typos as I was reviewing the data, so let me know if a trade doesn't make sense and I'll correct it.
Insanely detailed spreadsheet notes
For you real nerds out there. Here's an explanation of what each column means:
Pair - duh
Date/Time - Eastern time, confirmation candle as stated above
Win to -61.8%? - whether the trade made it to the -61.8% TP level before it hit the original SL.
Win to -100%? - whether the trade made it to the -100% TP level before it hit the original SL.
Win to -161.8%? - whether the trade made it to the -161.8% TP level before it hit the original SL.
Retracement level between -61.8% and -100% - how deep the price retraced after hitting -61.8%, but before hitting -100%. Be careful to look for the negative signs, it's easy to mix them up. Using the fib% levels defined in ParallaxFX's original thread. A plain hyphen "-" means it did not retrace, but rather went straight through -61.8% to -100%. Positive 100 means it hit the original SL.
Retracement level between -100% and -161.8% - how deep the price retraced after hitting -100%, but before hitting -161.8%. Be careful to look for the negative signs, it's easy to mix them up. Using the fib% levels defined in ParallaxFX's original thread. A plain hyphen "-" means it did not retrace, but rather went straight through -100% to -161.8%. Positive 100 means it hit the original SL.
Trade Width(Pips) - the size of the confirmation candle, and thus the "width" of your trade on which to determine position size, draw fib levels, etc.
Loser saved by 2 candle stop? - for all losing trades, whether or not the 2-candle stop loss would have saved the trade and how far it ended up getting if so. "No" means it didn't save it, N/A means it wasn't a losing trade so it's not relevant.
Spread(ThinkorSwim) - these are typical spreads for these pairs on ToS.
Spread % of Width - How big is the spread compared to the trade width? Not used in any calculations, but interesting nonetheless.
True Risk(Trade Width + Spread) - I set my SL at the opposite side of the confirmation candle knowing that I'm actually exposing myself to slightly more risk because of the spread(stop order = market order when submitted, so you pay the spread). So this tells you how many pips you are actually risking despite the Trade Width. I prefer this over setting the stop inside from the edge of the candle because some pairs have a wide spread that would mess with the system overall. But also many, many of these trades retraced very nearly to the edge of the confirmation candle, before ending up nicely profitable. If you keep your risk per trade at 1%, you're talking a true risk of, at most, 1.25% (in worst-case scenarios with the spread being 25% of the trade width as I am going with above).
Win or Loss in %(1% risk) including spread TP -61.8% - not going to go into huge detail, see the spreadsheet for calculations if you want. But, in a nutshell, if the trade was a win to 61.8%, it returns a positive # based on 61.8% of the trade width, minus the spread. Otherwise, it returns the True Risk as a negative. Both normalized to the 1% risk you started with.
Win or Loss in %(1% risk) including spread TP -100% - same as the last, but 100% of Trade Width.
Win or Loss in %(1% risk) including spread TP -161.8% - same as the last, but 161.8% of Trade Width.
Win or Loss in %(1% risk) including spread TP -100%, and move SL to breakeven at 61.8% - uses the retracement level columns to calculate profit/loss the same as the last few columns, but assuming you moved SL to 0% fib level after price hit -61.8%. Then full TP at 100%.
Win or Loss in %(1% risk) including spread take off half of position at -61.8%, move SL to breakeven, TP 100% - uses the retracement level columns to calculate profit/loss the same as the last few columns, but assuming you took of half the position and moved SL to 0% fib level after price hit -61.8%. Then TP the remaining half at 100%.
Overall Growth(-161.8% TP, 1% Risk) - pretty straightforward. Assuming you risked 1% on each trade, what the overall growth level would be chronologically(spreadsheet is sorted by date).
Based on the reasonable rules I discovered in this backtest:
Date range: 6/11-7/3
Adjusted Proft % (takes spread into account): 47.43%
Demo Trading Results
Since this post, I started demo trading this system assuming a 5k capital base and risking ~1% per trade. I've added the details to my spreadsheet for anyone interested. The results are pretty similar to the backtest when you consider real-life conditions/timing are a bit different. I missed some trades due to life(work, out of the house, etc), so that brought my total # of trades and thus overall profit down, but the winrate is nearly identical. I also closed a few trades early due to various reasons(not liking the price action, seeing support/resistance emerge, etc). A quick note is that TD's paper trade system fills at the mid price for both stop and limit orders, so I had to subtract the spread from the raw trade values to get the true profit/loss amount for each trade. I'm heading out of town next week, then after that it'll be time to take this sucker live!
Date range: 7/9-7/30
Adjusted Proft % (takes spread into account): 20.73%
Starting Balance: $5,000
Ending Balance: $6,036.51
Live Trading Results
I started live-trading this system on 8/10, and almost immediately had a string of losses much longer than either my backtest or demo period. Murphy's law huh? Anyways, that has me spooked so I'm doing a longer backtest before I start risking more real money. It's going to take me a little while due to the volume of trades, but I'll likely make a new post once I feel comfortable with that and start live trading again.
How to get started in Forex - A comprehensive guide for newbies
Almost every day people come to this subreddit asking the same basic questions over and over again. I've put this guide together to point you in the right direction and help you get started on your forex journey. A quick background on me before you ask: My name is Bob, I'm based out of western Canada. I started my forex journey back in January 2018 and am still learning. However I am trading live, not on demo accounts. I also code my own EA's. I not certified, licensed, insured, or even remotely qualified as a professional in the finance industry. Nothing I say constitutes financial advice. Take what I'm saying with a grain of salt, but everything I've outlined below is a synopsis of some tough lessons I've learned over the last year of being in this business. LET'S GET SOME UNPLEASANTNESS OUT OF THE WAY I'm going to call you stupid. I'm also going to call you dumb. I'm going to call you many other things. I do this because odds are, you are stupid, foolish,and just asking to have your money taken away. Welcome to the 95% of retail traders. Perhaps uneducated or uninformed are better phrases, but I've never been a big proponent of being politically correct. Want to get out of the 95% and join the 5% of us who actually make money doing this? Put your grown up pants on, buck up, and don't give me any of this pc "This is hurting my feelings so I'm not going to listen to you" bullshit that the world has been moving towards. Let's rip the bandage off quickly on this point - the world does not give a fuck about you. At one point maybe it did, it was this amazing vision nicknamed the American Dream. It died an agonizing, horrible death at the hand of capitalists and entrepreneurs. The world today revolves around money. Your money, my money, everybody's money. People want to take your money to add it to theirs. They don't give a fuck if it forces you out on the street and your family has to live in cardboard box. The world just stopped caring in general. It sucks, but it's the way the world works now. Welcome to the new world order. It's called Capitalism. And here comes the next hard truth that you will need to accept - Forex is a cruel bitch of a mistress. She will hurt you. She will torment you. She will give you nightmares. She will keep you awake at night. And then she will tease you with a glimmer of hope to lure you into a false sense of security before she then guts you like a fish and shows you what your insides look like. This statement applies to all trading markets - they are cruel, ruthless, and not for the weak minded. The sooner you accept these truths, the sooner you will become profitable. Don't accept it? That's fine. Don't bother reading any further. If I've offended you I don't give a fuck. You can run back home and hide under your bed. The world doesn't care and neither do I. For what it's worth - I am not normally an major condescending asshole like the above paragraphs would suggest. In fact, if you look through my posts on this subreddit you will see I am actually quite helpful most of the time to many people who come here. But I need you to really understand that Forex is not for most people. It will make you cry. And if the markets themselves don't do it, the people in the markets will. LESSON 1 - LEARN THE BASICS Save yourself and everybody here a bunch of time - learn the basics of forex. You can learn the basics for free - BabyPips has one of the best free courses online which explains what exactly forex is, how it works, different strategies and methods of how to approach trading, and many other amazing topics. You can access the BabyPips course by clicking this link: https://www.babypips.com/learn/forex Do EVERY course in the School of Pipsology. It's free, it's comprehensive, and it will save you from a lot of trouble. It also has the added benefit of preventing you from looking foolish and uneducated when you come here asking for help if you already know this stuff. If you still have questions about how forex works, please see the FREE RESOURCES links on the /Forex FAQ which can be found here: https://www.reddit.com/Forex/wiki/index Quiz Time Answer these questions truthfully to yourself: -What is the difference between a market order, a stop order, and a limit order? -How do you draw a support/resistance line? (Demonstrate it to yourself) -What is the difference between MACD, RSI, and Stochastic indicators? -What is fundamental analysis and how does it differ from technical analysis and price action trading? -True or False: It's better to have a broker who gives you 500:1 margin instead of 50:1 margin. Be able to justify your reasoning. If you don't know to answer to any of these questions, then you aren't ready to move on. Go back to the School of Pipsology linked above and do it all again. If you can answer these questions without having to refer to any kind of reference then congratulations, you are ready to move past being a forex newbie and are ready to dive into the wonderful world of currency trading! Move onto Lesson 2 below. LESSON 2 - RANDOM STRANGERS ARE NOT GOING TO HELP YOU GET RICH IN FOREX This may come as a bit of a shock to you, but that random stranger on instagram who is posting about how he is killing it on forex is not trying to insprire you to greatness. He's also not trying to help you. He's also not trying to teach you how to attain financial freedom. 99.99999% of people posting about wanting to help you become rich in forex are LYING TO YOU. Why would such nice, polite people do such a thing? Because THEY ARE TRYING TO PROFIT FROM YOUR STUPIDITY. Plain and simple. Here's just a few ways these "experts" and "gurus" profit from you:
Referral Links - If they require you to click a specific link to signup for something, it means they are an affiliate. They get a commission from whatever the third party is that they are sending you to. I don't care if it's a brokerage, training program, hell even an Amazon link to a book - if they insist you have to click their super exclusive, can't-get-this-deal-any-other-way-but-clicking-my-link type bullshit, it's an affiliate link. There is nothing inherently wrong with affiliate programs, but you are literally generating money for some stranger because they convinced you to buy something. Some brokers such as ICMarkets have affiliate programs that payout a percentage of the commission you generate - this is a really clever system - whether you profit or blow your entire account, the person who referred you to the broker makes a profit off you. Clever eh?
Signal Services, Education & Training Programs, Courses - If somebody is telling you they are making a killing with a signal service and are trying to convince you to join it, I guarantee they are getting a piece of your monthly fee. And better still, these signal services often work...for about a week. Just long enough to suck a bunch of poor fools into it. You see people making money, you want in so you agree to pay the $200+/month subscription fee. You follow the signals and it looks like it's making money for a few days or weeks. Then it turns sideways, you start losing money hand over fist. Pretty soon you have lost most of your trading account because you blindly followed a signal service. And better still - when you go screaming at the person running the signal service they will be very quick to point you to their No Refunds policy. To add insult to injury, the buttfucker that referred you to the signal service in the past will likely listen to you getting mad, and then come back with something like "Sorry it didn't work out, but I just joined this other amazing service and it's working great, you should come join it to earn your money back. Here's my link..." You get the point here right?
Multi-Level Marketing (MLMs) - These people are scum. They are going to offer you training and education, signals, access to forex experts and gurus, and all kinds of other shit with the promise that you will live the dream and become financially free. They are also loading you into a pyrmaid scheme where you will be hounded to recruit other people and make money off them just like you got roped into it. A really prime example here is iMarkets Live (or IML for short). Don't touch this shit with a 10 foot pole. I don't care what they are claiming, you will lose everything using them.
Fund Managers - These people make my skin crawl. It's a classic scam and it works like this - somebody will post online about how much money they are making trading forex/commodities/stocks/whatever. Most of the time they won't explicitly post they are offering a trading service, rather they just put the message out there and wait for the ignorant masses (that's you) to contact them. They will charm you. They will lie to you. They will promise you the moon if you simply wire them some money or give them API access to your trading account. Care to guess what happens next? If you send a wire transfer (or Western Union...hell any kind of payment to them) they will vanish. Happens usually after they take a bunch of suckers for the ride. You sent them $2,000 and so do 9 other suckers. They just made $20,000 and are gone. With API access to your account, you will find your account gets blown super fast or worse - possibly leaving you open to persecution by the broker you are using.
These are just a few examples. The reality is that very few people make it big in forex or any kind of trading. If somebody is trying to sell you the dream, they are essentially a magician - making you look the other way while they snatch your wallet and clean you out. Additionally, on the topic of fund managers - legitimate fund managers will be certified, licensed, and insured. Ask them for proof of those 3 things. What they typically look like are:
Certified - This varies from country to country, in the US it's FINRA (http://www.finra.org). They need to have their Series 7 certification minimum. You can make the case that other FINRA certifications are acceptable in lieu of Series 7, but the 7 is the gold standard.
Licensed - They need to have a valid business license issued by the government. It must clearly state they are an investment company, preferrably a hedge fund because they have some super strict requirements to operate (and often require $25,000+ in fees just to get their business license, so you know they at least have some skin in the game).
Insured - They need to be backed by an insurance company. I'm not talking general insurance for shit like their office burning down. I'm talking about a government-implemented protection insurance program - in the US I believe that is issued by the Securities Investment Protection Corporation (https://www.sipc.org/).
If you are talking to a fund manager and they are insisting they have all of these, get a copy of their verification documents and lookup their licenses on the directories of the issuers to verify they are valid. If they are, then at least you are talking to somebody who seems to have their shit together and is doing investment management and trading as a professional and you are at least partially protected when the shit hits the fan. LESSON 3 - UNDERSTAND YOUR RISK Many people jump into Forex, drop $2000 into a broker account and start trading 1 lot orders because they signed up with a broker thinking they will get rich because they were given 500:1 margin and can risk it all on each trade. Worst-case scenario you lose your account, best case scenario you become a millionaire very quickly. Seems like a pretty good gamble right? You are dead wrong. As a new trader, you should never risk more than 1% of your account balance on a trade. If you have some experience and are confident and doing well, then it's perfectly natural to risk 2-3% of your account per trade. Anybody who risks more than 4-5% of their account on a single trade deserves to blow their account. At that point you aren't trading, you are gambling. Don't pretend you are a trader when really you are just putting everything on red and hoping the roulette ball lands in the right spot. It's stupid and reckless and going to screw you very quickly. Let's do some math here: You put $2,000 into your trading account. Risking 1% means you are willing to lose $20 per trade. That means you are going to be trading micro lots, or 0.01 lots most likely ($0.10/pip). At that level you can have a trade stop loss at -200 pips and only lose $20. It's the best starting point for anybody. Additionally, if you SL 20 trades in a row you are only down $200 (or 10% of your account) which isn't that difficult to recover from. Risking 3% means you are willing to lose $60 per trade. You could do mini lots at this point, which is 0.1 lots (or $1/pip). Let's say you SL on 20 trades in a row. You've just lost $1,200 or 60% of your account. Even veteran traders will go through periods of repeat SL'ing, you are not a special snowflake and are not immune to periods of major drawdown. Risking 5% means you are willing to lose $100 per trade. SL 20 trades in a row, your account is blown. As Red Foreman would call it - Good job dumbass. Never risk more than 1% of your account on any trade until you can show that you are either consistently breaking even or making a profit. By consistently, I mean 200 trades minimum. You do 200 trades over a period of time and either break-even or make a profit, then you should be alright to increase your risk. Unfortunately, this is where many retail traders get greedy and blow it. They will do 10 trades and hit their profit target on 9 of them. They will start seeing huge piles of money in their future and get greedy. They will start taking more risk on their trades than their account can handle. 200 trades of break-even or profitable performance risking 1% per trade. Don't even think about increasing your risk tolerance until you do it. When you get to this point, increase you risk to 2%. Do 1,000 trades at this level and show break-even or profit. If you blow your account, go back down to 1% until you can figure out what the hell you did differently or wrong, fix your strategy, and try again. Once you clear 1,000 trades at 2%, it's really up to you if you want to increase your risk. I don't recommend it. Even 2% is bordering on gambling to be honest. LESSON 4 - THE 500 PIP DRAWDOWN RULE This is a rule I created for myself and it's a great way to help protect your account from blowing. Sometimes the market goes insane. Like really insane. Insane to the point that your broker can't keep up and they can't hold your orders to the SL and TP levels you specified. They will try, but during a flash crash like we had at the start of January 2019 the rules can sometimes go flying out the window on account of the trading servers being unable to keep up with all the shit that's hitting the fan. Because of this I live by a rule I call the 500 Pip Drawdown Rule and it's really quite simple - Have enough funds in your account to cover a 500 pip drawdown on your largest open trade. I don't care if you set a SL of -50 pips. During a flash crash that shit sometimes just breaks. So let's use an example - you open a 0.1 lot short order on USDCAD and set the SL to 50 pips (so you'd only lose $50 if you hit stoploss). An hour later Trump makes some absurd announcement which causes a massive fundamental event on the market. A flash crash happens and over the course of the next few minutes USDCAD spikes up 500 pips, your broker is struggling to keep shit under control and your order slips through the cracks. By the time your broker is able to clear the backlog of orders and activity, your order closes out at 500 pips in the red. You just lost $500 when you intended initially to only risk $50. It gets kinda scary if you are dealing with whole lot orders. A single order with a 500 pip drawdown is $5,000 gone in an instant. That will decimate many trader accounts. Remember my statements above about Forex being a cruel bitch of a mistress? I wasn't kidding. Granted - the above scenario is very rare to actually happen. But glitches to happen from time to time. Broker servers go offline. Weird shit happens which sets off a fundamental shift. Lots of stuff can break your account very quickly if you aren't using proper risk management. LESSON 5 - UNDERSTAND DIFFERENT TRADING METHODOLOGIES Generally speaking, there are 3 trading methodologies that traders employ. It's important to figure out what method you intend to use before asking for help. Each has their pros and cons, and you can combine them in a somewhat hybrid methodology but that introduces challenges as well. In a nutshell:
Price Action Trading (Sometimes called Naked Trading) is very effective at identifying when trends will start and finish. This gives you the advantage of staying ahead of the market and predicting when a change in trend direction will occur. It has the disadvantage of being really easy to screw it up if you don't plot your support and resistance lines properly and interpret the chart wrong. Because you can identify a change in trend direction, you'll generally make more profit on a new trend than a technical strategy will.
Technical Analytics (or TA) uses math and statistics to try and identify where the market is headed or confirm/reject whether a trend is happening. It has the advantage of being very math and stat driven which is hard to refute the numbers, but it has the disadvantage of being late to the party when it comes to identifying trends (hence why people call TA a lagging strategy). When people fail using TA, it's not because of the math - it's because you misinterpreted what the math is telling you.
Fundamental Analysis (or FA) uses news and macro scale events to predict what is going on. A really good example right now is Brexit, what a clusterfuck that is. Every time some major brexit news breaks it causes all sorts of choas in almost every currency pair. Fundamental trading has the highest potential profitability per trade but it also has the highest potential drawdown per trade.
Now you may be thinking that you want to be a a price action trader - you should still learn the principles and concepts behind TA and FA. Same if you are planning to be a technical trader - you should learn about price action and fundamental analysis. More knowledge is better, always. With regards to technical analysis, you need to really understand what the different indicators are tell you. It's very easy to misinterpret what an indicator is telling you, which causes you to make a bad trade and lose money. It's also important to understand that every indicator can be tuned to your personal preferences. You might find, for example, that using Bollinger Bands with the normal 20 period SMA close, 2 standard deviation is not effective for how you look at the chart, but changing that to say a 20 period EMA average price, 1 standard deviation bollinger band indicator could give you significantly more insight. LESSON 6 - TIMEFRAMES MATTER Understanding the differences in which timeframes you trade on will make or break your chosen strategy. Some strategies work really well on Daily timeframes (i.e. Ichimoku) but they fall flat on their face if you use them on 1H timeframes, for example. There is no right or wrong answer on what timeframe is best to trade on. Generally speaking however, there are 2 things to consider:
Speed - If you are scalping (trading on the really fast candles like 1M, 5M, 15M, etc) odds are your trades are very short lived. Maybe 10 minutes to an hour tops. For the most part, scalping strategies will produce little profit per trade but make up for it in the sheer volume of trades. Whereas swing trading may only make a few trades but each one could be worth a significant amount of money.
Spread (the fee you pay to the broker when you trade) - If you are a scalper, the spread is your worst enemy because you have to overcome it very fast to make a profit on your order. Whereas swing trading the spread hardly impacts you at all.
If you are a total newbie to forex, I suggest you don't trade on anything shorter than the 1H timeframe when you are first learning. Trading on higher timeframes tends to be much more forgiving and profitable per trade. Scalping is a delicate art and requires finesse and can be very challenging when you are first starting out. LESSON 7 - AUTOBOTS...ROLL OUT! Yeah...I'm a geek and grew up with the Transformers franchise decades before Michael Bay came along. Deal with it. Forex bots are called EA's (Expert Advisors). They can be wonderous and devastating at the same time. /Forex is not really the best place to get help with them. That is what /algotrading is useful for. However some of us that lurk on /Forex code EA's and will try to assist when we can. Anybody can learn to code an EA. But just like how 95% of retail traders fail, I would estimate the same is true for forex bots. Either the strategy doesn't work, the code is buggy, or many other reasons can cause EA's to fail. Because EA's can often times run up hundreds of orders in a very quick period of time, it's critical that you test them repeatedly before letting them lose on a live trading account so they don't blow your account to pieces. You have been warned. If you want to learn how to code an EA, I suggest you start with MQL. It's a programming language which can be directly interpretted by Meta Trader. The Meta Trader terminal client even gives you a built in IDE for coding EA's in MQL. The downside is it can be buggy and glitchy and caused many frustrating hours of work to figure out what is wrong. If you don't want to learn MQL, you can code an EA up in just about any programming language. Python is really popular for forex bots for some reason. But that doesn't mean you couldn't do it in something like C++ or Java or hell even something more unusual like JQuery if you really wanted. I'm not going to get into the finer details of how to code EA's, there are some amazing guides out there. Just be careful with them. They can be your best friend and at the same time also your worst enemy when it comes to forex. One final note on EA's - don't buy them. Ever. Let me put this into perspective - I create an EA which is literally producing money for me automatically 24/5. If it really is a good EA which is profitable, there is no way in hell I'm selling it. I'm keeping it to myself to make a fortune off of. EA's that are for sale will not work, will blow your account, and the developer who coded it will tell you that's too darn bad but no refunds. Don't ever buy an EA from anybody. LESSON 8 - BRING ON THE HATERS You are going to find that this subreddit is frequented by trolls. Some of them will get really nasty. Some of them will threaten you. Some of them will just make you miserable. It's the price you pay for admission to the /Forex club. If you can't handle it, then I suggest you don't post here. Find a more newbie-friendly site. It sucks, but it's reality. We often refer to trolls on this subreddit as shitcunts. That's your word of the day. Learn it, love it. Shitcunts. YOU MADE IT, WELCOME TO FOREX! If you've made it through all of the above and aren't cringing or getting scared, then welcome aboard the forex train! You will fit in nicely here. Ask your questions and the non-shitcunts of our little corner of reddit will try to help you. Assuming this post doesn't get nuked and I don't get banned for it, I'll add more lessons to this post over time. Lessons I intend to add in the future:
Why you will blow your first account and what to do when it happens
Trading Psychology (this will be a beefy one and will take a while to put together)
Exotics vs Majors and which you should focus on as a newbie (aka how to blow your account in a single trade with exotics)
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