Trading psychology and money management

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The Importance of Trading Psychology

Containing fear and greed are key to making money

Many skills are required for trading successfully in the financial markets. They include the abilities to evaluate a company’s fundamentals and to determine the direction of a stock’s trend. But neither of these technical skills is as important as the trader’s mindset.

Containing emotion, thinking quickly, and exercising discipline are components of what we might call trading psychology.

There are two main emotions to understand and keep under control: fear and greed.

Snap Decisions

Traders often have to think fast and make quick decisions, darting in and out of stocks on short notice. To accomplish this, they need a certain presence of mind. They also need the discipline to stick with their own trading plans and know when to book profits and losses. Emotions simply can’t get in the way.

Key Takeaways

  • Overall investor sentiment frequently drives market performance in directions that are at odds with the fundamentals.
  • The successful investor controls fear and greed, the two human emotions that drive that sentiment.
  • Understanding this can give you the discipline and objectivity needed to take advantage of others’ emotions.

Understanding Fear

When traders get bad news about a certain stock or about the economy in general, they naturally get scared. They may overreact and feel compelled to liquidate their holdings and sit on the cash, refraining from taking any more risks. If they do, they may avoid certain losses but may also miss out on some gains.

Traders need to understand what fear is: a natural reaction to a perceived threat. In this case, it’s a threat to their profit potential.

Quantifying the fear might help. Traders should consider just what they are afraid of, and why they are afraid of it. But that thinking should occur before the bad news, not in the middle of it.

Fear and greed are the two visceral emotions to keep in control.

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By thinking it through ahead of time, traders will know how they perceive events instinctively and react to them, and can move past the emotional response. Of course, this is not easy, but it’s necessary to the health of an investor’s portfolio, not to mention the investor.

Overcoming Greed

There’s an old saying on Wall Street that “pigs get slaughtered.” This refers to the habit greedy investors have of hanging on to a winning position too long to get every last tick upward in price. Sooner or later, the trend reverses and the greedy get caught.

Greed is not easy to overcome. It’s often based on the instinct to do better, to get just a little more. A trader should learn to recognize this instinct and develop a trading plan based on rational thinking, not whims or instincts.

Setting Rules

A trader needs to create rules and follow them when the psychological crunch comes. Set out guidelines based on your risk-reward tolerance for when to enter a trade and when to exit it. Set a profit target and put a stop loss in place to take emotion out of the process.

In addition, you might decide which specific events, such as a positive or negative earnings release, should trigger a decision to buy or sell a stock.

It’s wise to set limits on the maximum amount you are willing to win or lose in a day. If you hit the profit target, take the money and run. If your losses hit a predetermined number, fold up your tent and go home.

Either way, you’ll live to trade another day.

Conducting Research and Review

Traders need to become experts in the stocks and industries that interest them. Keep on top of the news, educate yourself and, iif possible, go to trading seminars and attend conferences.

Devote as much time as possible to the research process. That means studying charts, speaking with management, reading trade journals, and doing other background work such as macroeconomic analysis or industry analysis.

Knowledge can also help overcome fear.

Stay Flexible

It’s important for traders to remain flexible and consider experimenting from time to time. For example, you might consider using options to mitigate risk. One of the best ways a trader can learn is by experimenting (within reason). The experience may also help reduce emotional influences.

Finally, traders should periodically assess their own performances. In addition to reviewing their returns and individual positions, traders should reflect on how they prepared for a trading session, how up to date they are on the markets, and how they’re progressing in terms of ongoing education. This periodic assessment can help a trader correct mistakes, change bad habits, and enhance overall returns.

Trading psychology and money management

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Trading Psychology

What is Trading Psychology?

Trading psychology refers to the emotions and mental state that help to dictate success or failure in trading securities. Trading psychology represents various aspects of an individual’s character and behaviors that influence their trading actions. Trading psychology can be as important as other attributes such as knowledge, experience and skill in determining trading success.

Discipline and risk-taking are two of the most critical aspects of trading psychology, since a trader’s implementation of these aspects is critical to the success of his or her trading plan. While fear and greed are the two most commonly known emotions associated with trading psychology, other emotions that drive trading behavior are hope and regret.

Key Takeaways

  • Trading psychology is the emotional component of investor’s decision making process which may help explain why some decisions appear more rational than others.
  • Trading psychology is characterized primarily as the influence of both greed and fear.
  • Greed drives decisions that appear to accept too much risk.
  • Fear drives decisions that appear to avoid risk and generate too little return.

Understanding Trading Psychology

Trading psychology can be associated with a few specific emotions and behaviors that are often catalysts for market trading. Conventional characterizations of emotionally-driven behavior in markets ascribe most emotional trading to either greed or fear.

Greed can be thought of as an excessive desire for wealth, so excessive that it clouds rationality and judgement at times. Thus this characterization of greed-inspired investor or trading assumes that this emotion often leads traders towards a variety of behaviors. This may include making high-risk trades, buying shares of an untested company or technology just because it is going up in price rapidly, or buying shares without researching the underlying investment.

Additionally, greed may inspire investors to stay in profitable trades longer than is advisable in an effort to squeeze out extra profits from it, or to take on large speculative positions. Greed is most apparent in the final phase of bull markets, when speculation runs rampant and investors throw caution to the wind.

Conversely, fear causes traders to close out positions prematurely or to refrain from taking on risk because of concern about large losses. Fear is palpable during bear markets, and it is a potent emotion that can cause traders and investors to act irrationally in their haste to exit the market. Fear often morphs into panic, which generally causes significant selloffs in the market from panic selling.

Regret may cause a trader to get into a trade after initially missing out on it because the stock moved too fast. This is a violation of trading discipline and often results in direct losses from security prices that are falling from peak highs.

Technical Analysis

Trading psychology is often important for technical analysts relying on charting techniques to drive their trade decisions. Security charting can provide a broad array of insights on a security’s movement. While technical analysis and charting techniques can be helpful in spotting trends for buying and selling opportunities, it requires an understanding and intuition for market movements which is derived from an investor’s trading psychology.

There are numerous instances in technical charting where a trader must rely not only on the chart’s insight but also their own knowledge of the security that they’re following and their intuition for how broader factors are affecting the market. Traders with a keen attention to comprehensive security price influences, discipline and confidence show a balanced trading psychology that typically contributes to profitable success.

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