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Retail Traders, Banks and Hedge Funds Approach Markets Differently

Retail Traders, Banks and Hedge Funds Approach Markets Differently

John Kicklighter, Chief Strategist

Talking Points:

  • There are three general approaches to markets: equal access; information advantage and structural flaw exploitation
  • Finding structural opportunities requires unorthodox thinking while information advantage isn't prevalent in FX
  • Most traders are equal access looking to make strategy with universal data which presents fewer unique advantages

See how retail traders are positioning in the majors using the SSI readings on DailyFX's sentiment page. Harness the power of big data to evaluate millions of historical price points to calculate the probabilities of short-term market moves using the GSI Indicator.

Do top performing hedge funds trade technical patterns? Are the largest banks posting quarters without a single down day by trading around event risk? There are different approaches to the markets and they bring their own limitations, advantages and nuance. Most market participants fit into a category of equal access trader where they attempt to develop a strategy or edge around universally available information. That includes the average retail trader that focuses on technicals, fundamentals and even basic quantitative methods such as algorithms.

A second type of trading is one that relays on information advantage. Extensive knowledge of a particular area of the financial system or region along with unique access to data can provide opportunity that few can act on can prove lucrative. However, considerable work goes into this approach, signals are not frequent and there is a strong pull towards illegal means (such as insider trading) to supplement irregular performance. This is typically the area of the hedge funds and banks with large, specialized teams.

The third category can be the most intensive with the fewest trades. Exploiting flaws in systems or taking advantage of systemic changes requires exceptional knowledge of a market and radical ideas. Seeing situations like the liquidity collapse after the subprime US housing collapse, the value divergence in options before a standard model was available or the extreme rise in Chinese equities as the market opened to investors requires a uniquely tuned view of markets. Exploiting the situations can be even more difficult. We discuss these three general trading approaches in today's Strategy Video.

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