By James Stanley
Many experienced traders will often be overcome with guilt, remorse, and dejection; and not just because of how much they spent on Black Friday.
The concept of trade management can prove difficult for traders. Let’s just imagine the scenario that many of us have been in before:
After a streak of bad trades, we enter a position that FINALLY seems to be moving in the direction that we want. After an initial move in our favor, we experience the jubilation that can only come from being right AND making money for being right. In a matter of a few moments, seconds, or hours – all the despair that we had felt going into the trade is wiped away and overcome by the enormous feeling of success.
We are refreshed, we are profitable.
And then…. The position turns against us.
We watch helplessly as our profit disappears before our very eyes. We scour the news wires to see if anything has changed in the underlying economies that would necessitate such a move. We try to justify our original analysis, scrambling… as if we could do anything about it!
This can be one of the toughest situations for trader to learn how to handle. And there isn’t one right or wrong way to go about trade management, as market moves are unpredictable.
Some traders in the above scenario will react with a knee-jerk and close off the position entirely – taking whatever profits they can.
Other – more aggressive traders – might leave the position on in the hopes of the original momentum coming back – propelling the trade further in their direction (which may or may not happen).
In both scenarios, the trader runs the risk of leaving potential gains on the table versus the prospect of giving up what gains they have left.
My opinion is that the best way to handle the situation comes down to the individual trader, to what that trader feels most comfortable with. For conservative traders, removing the entire position and capturing what gain is left may be the best way to go – so they don’t have to worry about the prospect of giving up the remainder of the gain. For aggressive traders, they may want to keep the position open so they don’t have to worry about the ‘what if’s’ in case the position moves in their favor.
The way that I choose to handle such situations is – in my opinion – a happy medium between the two. I’ve set the mannerism in which I want to manage trades as part of my trading plan. When I get a pre-determined profit printed in my position – I will move the stop to breakeven. The amount of this profit is dictated by the strategy, currency pair, and timeframe that I am trading.
In the example above, I will have this strategy planned before I ever enter the trade. Before clicking on ‘Buy,’ or ‘Sell,’ I want to know at what level I am going to remove my initial risk. And further from that point, I can design the manner in which I want to exit, whether it is a strategy in which I am scaling out or taking the entire position off once a pre-determined profit goal has been reached.
Trade management is a large part of my strategies. I cannot control price, momentum, the news, or any of the other million factors affecting my trade. But I can control my risk; that is in my hands. I control my trade, risk, and account management – and that is what makes me a Trader.
I encourage you to think about, and examine which of the above scenarios would be most difficult for you as an individual trader (removing the position to capture what profit may be left v/s letting the position continue in the hopes of additional gain). And once you know whether you would be more comfortable being aggressive or conservative, design your trade management strategy in that direction.
--- Written by James B. Stanley
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