Tough Advice For Aspiring Traders

Recently, I have received an unusually large number of emails and messages from new traders who have been encountering problems–and losses–in their trading.  The majority have opened up their own accounts and are trying to learn on their own and eventually make a living from their trading.

Of course, they find out that it is not so easy to make a living from trading–just as it’s not easy to make a living from any performance activity, from acting to sports.  But to hope to learn completely on your own and somehow rise to elite levels of performance?  How often does that occur in anyperformance domain?  Show me a successful performer and I’ll show you one who has undergone years of training, practice, and mentoring.  No one goes from their backyard basketball court to the NBA.  No one tries acting at home and makes the casting calls on Broadway.

No one.

But those selling services to traders won’t say this.  Educators will pretend that their books and classes can make traders successful.  (Would anyone possibly believe that books and online courses on acting would take someone to Hollywood?  To the NBA?).  Coaches will pretend that, if you just use their techniques and gain mental mastery, you’ll find profitability.  (Really?  Will emotional control and self awareness win you chess championships or help you find success as a baseball pitcher?)  

I receive requests for coaching every week from individual, retail traders.  In the 15 years I’ve been doing this full-time, how many of those requests have I taken on?



The only way I work with aspiring traders is if they are enrolled in full-time programs of mentoring, either on a hedge fund desk or a training program at an investment bank, graduate program of finance/financial engineering, or proprietary trading firm.  Because anything else would not be practicing performance psychology.  It would be selling hope.

If you’re an aspiring trader, hope and passion and desire are not business plans.  They do not substitute for talent, skill, and experience.  If you think you have the talent and drive, my advice is to find yourself the best training possible and do what medical students, Olympic athletes, and performing artists do:  learn from successful practitioners in a daily, structured curriculum.  

It may not be what you want to hear, but that advice will save you a lot of money, time, and heartache.  And, more importantly, it will free you up to do what you’re truly meant to do in this world.