An interview with Head of Trading
What is the most common mistake you see when people are learning to trade?
Hesitation. It is such a killer. This is where a new trader feels that overpowering necessity to want evidence that a trade is going to be right before being able to commit to take the risk and putting the trade on. Their lack of experience inevitably materialising into a lack of confidence and an inability to execute what their analysis has concluded is the optimum trade.
The trader will identify a key entry point, watch the market reach that entry point and then wait to see the market reverse direction and move in the way that the trader's analysis has predicted. Now that the trader has their confirmation that the trade is 'right' they then chase the market to enter that trade after the reversal has happened and at a price point that is significantly worse than their original analysis had identified. This leads to at best a much smaller profit than the trade set up deserved and at worst leads to losing money even though on paper they had the right trade.
What specific skills or personality do you look for in a good trader?
Self discipline. Having the ability to control one's self. To avoid hesitation takes a huge amount of self control.
The trader needs to not only identify the fact that their emotional fears are at levels that will likely result in irrational decision making, but they then need to suppress these emotions and go ahead and execute the trade. Essentially, the ability to take risk at the very moment their emotional side is screaming at them to do the exact opposite. If this is done repeatedly then over time the evidence will be there to see in an improved trading performance, which is then the tangible evidence justifying their rational, analytical actions. This is then the platform that a successful trading career can be built on.
What are the main resources you use to enhance your trading?
I might be a bit biased here - but I would say Anthony Cheung's Daily Morning Market Briefing is the single best daily activity you should build your routine around. Getting a short, sharp daily macro update from one of the most experienced people in the industry is so valuable. I wish I had this type of resource when I was starting out. I make a point of insisting that no Amplify trader should place a trade until they have listened to the briefing.
What products do you trade the most and why?
I like big liquid markets that I can easily enter and exit large positions with, but also markets that are are sensitive enough to generate significant volatility on a day to day basis.
I like the major FX pairs, major stock indices, German and US Government bonds and Gold and Oil. I also trade single stocks but more over the medium term and again mainly using a macro strategy and thinking about the phase of the economic cycle that I think we are in.
Do you have any superstitions or routines when you trade?
I am not in any way superstitious. I am a full on pragmatist! Anything I do well, I give myself credit for as well as those that have helped me - and anything I do badly I take full responsibility for and deal with that. I am all for routine, but consistently successful trading is just about hard work and resilience. I have a friend who insists on ONLY trading when they are wearing their favourite pair of slippers! This gets him very odd looks in the office, but in my opinion if you have to rely on what type of footware you have on to perform well then something has gone wrong!
What advice would you give to someone looking to trade their own capital?
Get some help first! Don't try and do it alone. Trading is hard enough as it is, so invest in some proper training, surround yourself with people who have experience and know what they are doing. Also, it doesn't matter how much capital you have in total to trade with, start very small and build up size and market exposure slowly. A lot of people want big results too quickly and this almost always ends in them losing everything.
What is your view on the current state of play with Brexit?
I don't think we should have had a referendum in the first place, so ultimately I blame David Cameron! I think that the idea we can negotiate a deal in such a tiny time frame like 2 years was always fantasy land and we are now finding this to be the case.
I don't think you can break from something we are so deeply economically entwined with in such a short period of time like 2 years or even 4 years if you include the transition period. I think it will take more like ten years. The EU is by no means perfect, but I'd rather have the ambition to be one of its largest members and strongly driving change from within, rather than turning our back and promoting protectionism and nationalism.
You can follow Piers on Twitter via @pierscurran.
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