February 23, 2012 at 11:35 am | | Comments 3

5 Takeaways from the NYC Traders Expo

Last night I returned from my trip to the NYC Traders Expo.  It was a great experience.  Visiting the city itself with some great February weather and seeing all the famous landmarks was nice, but I really enjoyed spending time with some Bandit subscribers and some other trading friends I’ve made over the years from different parts of the country.

In addition, I was fortunate to speak to groups of traders twice while there, which was both challenging and insightful as I prepared ahead of time then fielded some well-thought-out questions from attendees.  It was really fun!

There’s an energy when traders collect which is always motivating.  From the trading floor I first participated on back in 2000, to times in Chicago seeing everyone file into the CME ahead of the day’s session, there’s just something that happens when traders gather to compete or exchange ideas – I love the atmosphere.

A few thoughts on what I witnessed, in no particular order…

Hunt for the magic bullet.  There are a TON of traders who show up just wanting the latest lure to fish with.  They aren’t willing to put in the work, to learn to think for themselves, or to understand what it takes to become successful as a trader.  They want the overnight shortcut, and they exit the scene just as quickly as they arrive, disappointed and surprised that trading isn’t red and green infomercial-easy.

Trading is a process.  I’ve known this, but was reminded of it through my preparations for speaking and in conversations with other traders.  Trading requires adaptation, a willingness to lose regularly.  Imperfection is to be expected, and so it all becomes about good management of trades rather than finding the can’t-miss sure thing. What works now may not work in a few weeks, so you have to be willing, able, and prepared to shift your approach.  The market evolves, and so must you if you want to stay in the game and keep seeing opportunities.

Expectations.  Expect some losing trades (and learn to manage them wisely).  Expect periods of frustration and confusion, they’re going to happen.  Expect the market to surprise you – it’s just that way, so you’ll have to be ready to respond accordingly.  Times will come when you have no clue what’s next, but that’s OK.  When they arrive, you can accept them and sideline yourself until clarity comes.

Hard work is rewarded.  I saw Expo attendees show up early and stay late, attending multiple sessions, taking notes on the good things they heard, and leave tired but hopeful that some fresh perspectives will influence them to improvement in the days ahead.  I saw prop traders from SMB who started their day extremely early, made the commute to lower Manhattan, gave it their best all day (though some admitted it was a tough day), then stuck around after the close to listen to my thoughts.  Even after I was done presenting, they showed the discipline and desire to improve by asking questions, just absorbing knowledge even though they were tired and hungry and eager to call it a day.  Those who work hard – even when it isn’t comfortable – are the ones who will make it, keep improving, and eventually see the fruits of their labor.

Trading is a battle.  What’s interesting – and which few stop to recognize – is that only part of the battle is in the market.  The rest usually happens internally.  So be ready, you’ll need to bring your best if you want to compete in this game.  You need to prepare a plan, and think through the emotions you might face while implementing it.  Regardless of style, strategy, market, or timeframe, every great trader has his head on straight.  Those who don’t will have it beaten to a pulp by a ruthless market.

If you were there, or if these have resonated with you, feel free to share some thoughts of your own.

Trade Like a Bandit!

Jeff White
Producer of The Bandit Broadcast

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  1. Jeff, I’ve been wondering if you have any thoughts on why gaps are often filled. One book I read dismissed it as nonsense but I don’t think it is nonsense. Gaps seem to be filled more often than not and it seems to be useful to respect that premise, as I often wait for the gap to be filled before jumping on the band waggon…whatever a band wagon is. Band wagons seem to be a good thing. Perhaps they are a bit like London tube trains….The speakers on the London underground constantly say “Mind the gap! Mind the gap!”

  2. PS. Great post! Common sense is an admirable thing. Do they say “mind the gap” on the New York subway?

  3. Hey Mark, I think common gaps get filled just because they are short-term overreactions in price, and therefore get absorbed as emotions either settle or flip. The bigger the gap, the longer it tends to take to fill.

    The NYC subways did not mention “Mind the gap!” like the tube does, although there was plenty of jargon along the lines of “stay back” 🙂

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