Its a bit lengthy and I tried to condense it as much as I can. So take everything at a high level as each subject is has a lot more depth but fundamentally if you distill it down its just taking simple things and applying your experience using them to add nuance and better deploy them.
There are exceptions to everything that you will learn with experience or have already learned. If you know something extra or something to add to it to implement it better or more accurately. Then great! However, my intention of this post is just a high level overview. Trading can be far too nuanced to go into in this post and would take forever to type up every exception (not to mention the traders individual personality). If you take the general information as a starting point, hopefully you will learn the edge cases long the way and learn how to use the more effectively if you end up using them. I apologize in advice for any errors or typos. Introduction
After reflecting on my fun (cough)
trading journey that was more akin to rolling around on broken glass and wondering if brown glass will help me predict market direction better than green glass. Buying a $100 indicator at 2 am when I was acting a fool, looking at it and going at and going "This is a piece of lagging crap, I miss out on a large part of the fundamental move and never using it for even one trade". All while struggling with massive over trading and bad habits because I would get bored watching a single well placed trade on fold for the day. Also, I wanted to get rich quick.
On top all of that I had a terminal Stage 4 case of FOMO on every time the price would move up and then down then back up. Just think about all those extra pips I could have trading both directions as it moves across the chart! I can just sell right when it goes down, then buy right before it goes up again. Its so easy right? Well, turns out it was not as easy as I thought and I lost a fair chunk of change and hit my head against the wall a lot until it clicked. Which is how I came up with a mixed bag of things that I now call "Trade the Trade" which helped support how I wanted to trade so I can still trade intra day price action like a rabid money without throwing away all my bananas. Why Make This Post? - Core Topic of Discussion
I wish to share a concept I came up with that helped me become a reliable trader. Support the weakness of how I like to trade. Also, explaining what I do helps reinforce my understanding of the information I share as I have to put words to it and not just use internalized processes. I came up with a method that helped me get my head straight when trading intra day.
I call it "Trade the Trade" as I am making mini trades inside of a trade setup I make from analysis on a higher timeframe that would take multiple days to unfold or longer. I will share information, principles, techniques I used and learned from others I talked to on the internet (mixed bag of folks from armatures to professionals, and random internet people) that helped me form a trading style that worked for me. Even people who are not good at trading can say something that might make it click in your head so I would absorbed all the information I could get.I will share the details of how I approach the methodology and the tools in my trading belt that I picked up by filtering through many tools, indicators strategies and witchcraft. Hopefully you read something that ends up helping you be a better trader. I learned a lot from people who make community posts so I wanted to give back now that I got my ducks in a row. General Trading Advice
If your struggling finding your own trading style, fixing weakness's in it, getting started, being reliably profitable or have no framework to build yourself higher with, hopefully you can use the below advice to help provide some direction or clarity to moving forward to be a better trader.
- KEEP IT SIMPLE. Do not throw a million things on your chart from the get go or over analyzing what the market is doing while trying to learn the basics. Tons of stuff on your chart can actually slow your learning by distracting your focus on all your bells and whistles and not the price action.
- PRICE ACTION. Learn how to read price action. Not just the common formations, but larger groups of bars that form the market structure. Those formations carry more weight the higher the time frame they form on. If struggle to understand what is going on or what your looking at, move to a higher time frame.
- INDICATORS. If you do use them you should try to understand how every indicator you use calculates its values. Many indicators are lagging indicators, understanding how it calculates the values can help you learn how to identify the market structure before the indicator would trigger a signal . This will help you understand why the signal is a lagged signal. If you understand that you can easily learn to look at the price action right before the signal and learn to watch for that price action on top of it almost trigging a signal so you can get in at a better position and assume less downside risk. I recommend using no more than 1-2 indicators for simplicity, but your free to use as many as you think you think you need or works for your strategy/trading style.
- PSYCOLOGY. First, FOMO is real, don't feed the beast. When you trade you should always have an entry and exit. If you miss your entry do not chase it, wait for a new entry. At its core trading is gambling and your looking for an edge against the house (the other market participants). With that in mind, treat as such. Do not risk more than you can afford to lose. If you are afraid to lose it will negatively effect your trade decisions. Finally, be honest with your self and bad trading happens. No one is going to play trade cop and keep you in line, that's your job.
- TRADE DECISION MARKING: Before you enter any trade you should have an entry and exit area. As you learn price action you will get better entries and better exits. Use a larger zone and stop loss at the start while learning. Then you can tighten it up as you gain experience. If you do not have a area you wish to exit, or you are entering because "the markets looking like its gonna go up". Do not enter the trade. Have a reason for everything you do, if you cannot logically explain why then you probably should not be doing it.
- ROBOTS/ALGOS: Loved by some, hated by many who lost it all to one, and surrounded by scams on the internet. If you make your own, find a legit one that works and paid for it or lost it all on a crappy one, more power to ya. I do not use robots because I do not like having a robot in control of my money. There is too many edge cases for me to be ok with it.However, the best piece of advice about algos was that the guy had a algo/robot for each market condition (trending/ranging) and would make personalized versions of each for currency pairs as each one has its own personality and can make the same type of movement along side another currency pair but the price action can look way different or the move can be lagged or leading. So whenever he does his own analysis and he sees a trend, he turns the trend trading robot on. If the trend stops, and it starts to range he turns the range trading robot on. He uses robots to trade the market types that he is bad at trading. For example, I suck at trend trading because I just suck at sitting on my hands and letting my trade do its thing.
Trade the Trade - The Methodology Base Principles
These are the base principles I use behind "Trade the Trade". Its called that because you are technically trading inside your larger high time frame trade as it hopefully goes as you have analyzed with the trade setup. It allows you to scratch that intraday trading itch, while not being blind to the bigger market at play. It can help make sense of why the price respects, rejects or flat out ignores support/resistance/pivots.
Enhance Your Success Rate
- Trade Setup: Find a trade setup using high level time frames (daily, 4hr, or 1hr time frames). The trade setup will be used as a base for starting to figure out a bias for the markets direction for that day.
- Indicator Data: Check any indicators you use (I use Stochastic RSI and Relative Vigor Index) for any useful information on higher timeframes.
- Support Resistance: See if any support/resistance/pivot points are in currently being tested/resisted by the price. Also check for any that are within reach so they might become in play through out the day throughout the day (which can influence your bias at least until the price reaches it if it was already moving that direction from previous days/weeks price action).
- Currency Strength/Weakness: I use the TradeVision currency strength/weakness dashboard to see if the strength/weakness supports the narrative of my trade and as an early indicator when to keep a closer eye for signs of the price reversing.Without the tool, the same concept can be someone accomplished with fundamentals and checking for higher level trends and checking cross currency pairs for trends as well to indicate strength/weakness, ranging (and where it is in that range) or try to get some general bias from a higher level chart that may help you out. However, it wont help you intra day unless your monitoring the currency's index or a bunch of charts related to the currency.
- Watch For Trading Opportunities: Personally I make a mental short list and alerts on TradingView of currency pairs that are close to key levels and so I get a notification if it reaches there so I can check it out. I am not against trading both directions, I just try to trade my bias before the market tries to commit to a direction. Then if I get out of that trade I will scalp against the trend of the day and hold trades longer that are with it.Then when you see a opportunity assume the directional bias you made up earlier (unless the market solidly confirms with price action the direction while waiting for an entry) by trying to look for additional confirmation via indicators, price action on support/resistances etc on the low level time frame or higher level ones like hourly/4hr as the day goes on when the price reaches key areas or makes new market structures to get a good spot to enter a trade in the direction of your bias.Then enter your trade and use the market structures to determine how much of a stop you need. Once your in the trade just monitor it and watch the price action/indicators/tools you use to see if its at risk of going against you. If you really believe the market wont reach your TP and looks like its going to turn against you, then close the trade. Don't just hold on to it for principle and let it draw down on principle or the hope it does not hit your stop loss.
- Trade Duration Hold your trades as long or little as you want that fits your personality and trading style/trade analysis. Personally I do not hold trades past the end of the day (I do in some cases when a strong trend folds) and I do not hold trades over the weekends. My TP targets are always places I think it can reach within the day. Typically I try to be flat before I sleep and trade intra day price movements only. Just depends on the higher level outlook, I have to get in at really good prices for me to want to hold a trade and it has to be going strong. Then I will set a slightly aggressive stop on it before I leave. I do know several people that swing trade and hold trades for a long period of time. That is just not a trading style that works for me.
Below is information I picked up over the years that helped me enhance my success rate with not only guessing intra day market bias (even if it has not broken into the trend for the day yet (aka pre London open when the end of Asia likes to act funny sometimes), but also with trading price action intra day.
People always say "When you enter a trade have an entry and exits. I am of the belief that most people do not have problem with the entry, its the exit. They either hold too long, or don't hold long enough. With the below tools, drawings, or instruments, hopefully you can increase your individual probability of a successful trade. **P.S.*\
* Your mileage will vary depending on your ability to correctly draw, implement and interpret the below items. They take time and practice to implement with a high degree of proficiency. If you have any questions about how to do that with anything listed, comment below and I will reply as I can. I don't want to answer the same question a million times in a pm. Tools and Methods Used
This is just a high level overview of what I use. Each one of the actions I could go way more in-depth on but I would be here for a week typing something up of I did that. So take the information as a base level understanding of how I use the method or tool. There is always nuance and edge cases that you learn from experience.
- I keep a general high level Macro outlook for currencies. I dont get too deep into Fundamentals and just keep an eye out for news. If I am already in a trade I will hold it if its far enough away from my entry. However, I wont enter right before/during news as it can invalidate your setup.
- Price Action
- I started with the basics of learning the standard price action formations/patterns and candles. You can find tons of free info on that online, google is your friend. Then I stared at charts and said "why did the price do that or do this etc" then after a while I started to understand what's happening without having to think about it and I can see the market structure without having to look as closely as I did in the past.
- After many many hours of staring at 5 min charts for 15 hours a day 5 days a week I learned how to look at 5 min charts and be like "Oh that's a hammer on the 15 min etc. If you keep track of time you can do the same for hourly candles as well and you will start to see market structure naturally. However I typically trade in a two chart panel window so I have a 15 min and 5 min chart up when trading intra day so I dont have to think too hard about it.
- Support/Resistance Lines
- Draw support resistance lines on Daily/4hr timeframes. I prefer to use body of the candle instead of the wick for support/resistance.
- You can find support/resistance liquidity levels through out the day as well and trade those if the price retraces back through levels its already been through that same day.
- It would be a bit length to explain exactly the best place to draw them. If your unsure there is plenty of free resources on the internet. Just try to use your head and look for price levels where the price was "Supported" or it "Resisted" that price level then slap a line on it. Draw as few or as many lines as you feel helps you and your style. I tend to lean on the side of fewer. I typically do about 6 lines main support/resistances (3 of each).
- Fibonacci Extensions
- Draw two Fibonacci Extensions. One on the daily timeframe, and then one on the 4hr time frame. Then you can trade the Fibonacci levels and use them for TP targets or entry zones if price action respects the level. Also you can use it along with support/resistance and pivots if they happen to line up or are very close.
- I cannot really figure out how to put it into words how to draw a Fib if you dont know how. I will have to make a picture to demonstrate it. If your interested post below and I will draw one up and post a link. Probably the easiest way to understand. Just keep in mind the Fib you draw on the 4hr time frame will be inside the daily timeframe one.
- Currency Strength/Weakness
- The TradeVision2020 dashboard that I use just helps me keep a tab on the current market post plus any swing strength/momentum a currency might have on higher time frames. Helps me look for shifts in the market or confirmation that the bias it already has in momentum is continuing. I have found that often currencies when they get really/weak or strong might continue for several days or even longer like a full week or more. We recently had what felt like 1 week or so of flat out Yen weakness which was making some things wonky. All it does is allow me to look at the dashboard instead of a million other charts.
- I use two that work well for my intra day style. The Stochastic RSI is just like a RSI but its faster. The second is the Relative Vigor Index which I use to detect swings in momentum and divergences in bullish/bearish momentum. I have used many others in the past, but as I have grown and got better as a trader I have found making my analysis simpler has improved my trading.I dont like the whole idea of have 43 different indicators on 32 different time frames light up a dashboard to be green for me to enter a trade. With how I do it now, I have a clear understanding of what I expect to happen and why. That way when it does happen I understand the move and dont get freaked out if the market moves funny after I am in the trade.
I use the above tools/indicators/resources/philosophy's to trade intra day price action that sometimes ends up as noise in the grand scheme of the markets movement.use that method until the price action for the day proves the bias assumption wrong. Also you can couple that with things like Stoch RSI + Relative Vigor Index to find divergences which can increase the probability of your targeted guesses.
Trade Example from Yesterday
This is an example of a trade I took today and why I took it. I used the following core areas to make my trade decision.
- Fundamental Bias: I already had a bullish fundamental outlook on EUUSD with expecting the markets to price in future similes due a higher an higher chance of Biden winning on paper as the election closed in and a "Blue wave" coming which would lead to a weaker dollar. Also, the Euro Zone is getting hammered with COVID pretty hard plus Brexit drama so I had a strong Euro bias.NOTE: As frame of reference, all the other pairs I trade I traded as if they were ranging and trade a range. Markets are messed up right now.
- Currency Strength/Weakness: I use a tool that gives me a currency strength/weakness dashboard called TradeVision2020. Helps me track individual currency strength/weakness intra day. Took me about a month to get used to it, but helps me keep track of intra day strength/weakness that can add a bias to trade direction as the day unfolds. Like "Will this run have a 2nd or 3rd push higher" or "I should look to TP at the first sign of weakness in the push" type bias data. You still got to use your brain and figure out the best decision. It wont make choices for you, its only a guide.NOTE: I am not trying to adverse the tool (if providing the code is against sub rules let me know), its just a tool I use every day that helps me with directional bias calls. I am sharing the coupon code that was given to me when I found out about the tool in the TradingView forex chatroom and the guy gave me the code to use when I signed up. I dont want someone to read the name and want to try it out then overpay for no reason. The coupon will give you 40% off. Coupon Code: 3F7A0T5T
- Higher Timeframe Analysis: Detected some early signs of Bearish Divergence on the 1hr chart using a on a higher time frame using a Stochastic RSI. Then I saw more confirmation on 5 min charts using Relative Vigor Index to help time my entry mid session.
- Pivot Points: I treat pivot points like support/resistance and trade them as such using price action to give me some idea how its being treated by the market. Pretty straight forward.
It may seem like a lot of stuff to process on the fly while trying to figure out live price action but, for the fundamental bias for a pair should already baked in your mindset for any currency pair you trade. For the currency strength/weakness I stare at the dashboard 12-15 hours a day so I am always trying to keep a pulse on what's going or shifts so that's not really a factor when I want to enter as I would not look to enter if I felt the market was shifting against me. Then the higher timeframe analysis had already happened when I woke up, so it was a game of "Stare at the 5 min chart until the price does something interesting" Trade Example:
Today , I went long EUUSD long bias when I first looked at the chart after waking up around 9-10pm Eastern. Fortunately, the first large drop had already happened so I had a easy baseline price movement to work with. I then used tool for currency strength/weakness monitoring, Pivot Points, and bearish divergence detected using Stochastic RSI and Relative Vigor Index.
I first noticed Bearish Divergence on the 1hr time frame using the Stochastic RSI
and got confirmation intra day on the 5 min time frame with the Relative Vigor Index.
I ended up buying the second mini dip around midnight Eastern because it was already dancing along the pivot point that the price had been dancing along since the big drop below the pivot point and dipped below it and then shortly closed back above it. I put a stop loss below the first large dip. With a TP goal of the middle point pivot line
Then I waited for confirmation or invalidation of my trade. I ended up getting confirmation with Bearish Divergence
from the second large dip so I tightened up my stop to below that smaller drip and waited for the London open. Not only was it not a lower low, I could see the divergence with the Relative Vigor Index
It then ran into London and kept going with tons of momentum. Blew past my TP target so I let it run to see where the momentum stopped. Ended up TP'ing at the Pivot Point support/resistance above the middle pivot line. Random Note:
The Asian session has its own unique price action characteristics that happen regularly enough that you can easily trade them when they happen with high degrees of success. It takes time to learn them all and confidently trade them as its happening. If you trade Asia you should learn to recognize them as they can fake you out if you do not understand what's going on.
At the end of the day there is no magic solution that just works. You have to find out what works for you and then what people say works for them. Test it out and see if it works for you or if you can adapt it to work for you. If it does not work or your just not interested then ignore it.
At the end of the day, you have to use your brain to make correct trading decisions. Blindly following indicators may work sometimes in certain market conditions, but trading with information you don't understand can burn you just as easily as help you. Its like playing with fire. So, get out there and grind it out. It will either click or it wont. Not everyone has the mindset or is capable of changing to be a successful trader. Trading is gambling, you do all this work to get a edge on the house. Trading without the edge or an edge you understand how to use will only leave your broker happy in the end.
Disclaimer: None of this is financial advice. I have no idea what I'm doing. Please do your own research or you will certainly lose money. I'm not a statistician, data scientist, well-seasoned trader, or anything else that would qualify me to make statements such as the below with any weight behind them. Take them for the incoherent ramblings that they are. submitted by
TL;DR at the bottom for those not interested in the details.
This is a bit of a novel, sorry about that. It was mostly for getting my own thoughts organized, but if even one person reads the whole thing I will feel incredibly accomplished.
For those of you not familiar, please see the various threads on this trading system here.
I can't take credit for this system, all glory goes to ParallaxFX
I wanted to see how effective this system was at H1 for a couple of reasons: 1) My current broker is TD Ameritrade - their Forex minimum is a mini lot, and I don't feel comfortable enough yet with the risk to trade mini lots on the higher timeframes(i.e. wider pip swings) that ParallaxFX's system uses, so I wanted to see if I could scale it down. 2) I'm fairly impatient, so I don't like to wait days and days with my capital tied up just to see if a trade is going to win or lose.
This does mean it requires more active attention since you are checking for setups once an hour instead of once a day or every 4-6 hours, but the upside is that you trade more often this way so you end up winning or losing faster and moving onto the next trade. Spread does eat more of the trade this way, but I'll cover this in my data below - it ends up not being a problem.
I looked at data from 6/11 to 7/3 on all pairs with a reasonable spread(pairs listed at bottom above the TL;DR). So this represents about 3-4 weeks' worth of trading. I used mark(mid) price charts. Spreadsheet link is below for anyone that's interested.
I'm pretty much using ParallaxFX's system textbook, but since there are a few options in his writeups, I'll include all the discretionary points here:
- I'm using the stop entry version - so I wait for the price to trade beyond the confirmation candle(in the direction of my trade) before entering. I don't have any data to support this decision, but I've always preferred this method over retracement-limit entries. Maybe I just like the feeling of a higher winrate even though there can be greater R:R using a limit entry. Variety is the spice of life.
- I put my stop loss right at the opposite edge of the confirmation candle. NOT at the edge of the 2-candle pattern that makes up the system. I'll get into this more below - not enough trades are saved to justify the wider stops. (Wider stop means less $ per pip won, assuming you still only risk 1%).
- All my profit/loss statistics are based on a 1% risk per trade. Because 1 is real easy to multiply.
- There are definitely some questionable trades in here, but I tried to make it as mechanical as possible for evaluation purposes. They do fit the definitions of the system, which is why I included them. You could probably improve the winrate by being more discretionary about your trades by looking at support/resistance or other techniques.
- I didn't use MBB much for either entering trades, or as support/resistance indicators. Again, trying to be pretty mechanical here just for data collection purposes. Plus, we all make bad trading decisions now and then, so let's call it even.
- As stated in the title, this is for H1 only. These results may very well not play out for other time frames - who knows, it may not even work on H1 starting this Monday. Forex is an unpredictable place.
- I collected data to show efficacy of taking profit at three different levels: -61.8%, -100% and -161.8% fib levels described in the system using the passive trade management method(set it and forget it). I'll have more below about moving up stops and taking off portions of a position.
And now for the fun. Results!
- Total Trades: 241
- Raw Winrates:
- TP at -61.8%: 177 out of 241: 73.44%
- TP at -100%: 156 out of 241: 64.73%
- TP at -161.8%: 121 out of 241: 50.20%
- Adjusted Proft % (takes spread into account):
- TP at -61.8%: 5.22%
- TP at -100%: 23.55%
- TP at -161.8%: 29.14%
As you can see, a higher target ended up with higher profit despite a much lower winrate. This is partially just how things work out with profit targets in general, but there's an additional point to consider in our case: the spread. Since we are trading on a lower timeframe, there is less overall price movement and thus the spread takes up a much larger percentage of the trade than it would if you were trading H4, Daily or Weekly charts. You can see exactly how much it accounts for each trade in my spreadsheet if you're interested. TDA does not have the best spreads, so you could probably improve these results with another broker.
EDIT: I grabbed typical spreads from other brokers, and turns out while TDA is pretty competitive on majors, their minors/crosses are awful! IG beats them by 20-40% and Oanda beats them 30-60%! Using IG spreads for calculations increased profits considerably (another 5% on top) and Oanda spreads increased profits massively (another 15%!). Definitely going to be considering another broker than TDA for this strategy. Plus that'll allow me to trade micro-lots, so I can be more granular(and thus accurate) with my position sizing and compounding.
A Note on Spread
As you can see in the data, there were scenarios where the spread was 80% of the overall size of the trade(the size of the confirmation candle that you draw your fibonacci retracements over), which would obviously cut heavily into your profits.
Removing any trades where the spread is more than 50% of the trade width improved profits slightly without removing many trades, but this is almost certainly just coincidence on a small sample size. Going below 40% and even down to 30% starts to cut out a lot of trades for the less-common pairs, but doesn't actually change overall profits at all(~1% either way).
However, digging all the way down to 25% starts to really make some movement. Profit at the -161.8% TP level jumps up to 37.94%
if you filter out anything with a spread that is more than 25% of the trade width! And this even keeps the sample size fairly large at 187 total trades.
You can get your profits all the way up to 48.43%
at the -161.8% TP level if you filter all the way down to only trades where spread is less than 15% of the trade width, however your sample size gets much smaller at that point(108 trades) so I'm not sure I would trust that as being accurate in the long term.
Overall based on this data, I'm going to only take trades where the spread is less than 25% of the trade width. This may bias my trades more towards the majors, which would mean a lot more correlated trades as well(more on correlation below), but I think it is a reasonable precaution regardless.
Time of Day
Time of day had an interesting effect on trades. In a totally predictable fashion, a vast majority of setups occurred during the London and New York sessions: 5am-12pm Eastern. However, there was one outlier where there were many setups on the 11PM bar - and the winrate was about the same as the big hours in the London session. No idea why this hour in particular - anyone have any insight? That's smack in the middle of the Tokyo/Sydney overlap, not at the open or close of either.
On many of the hour slices I have a feeling I'm just dealing with small number statistics here since I didn't have a lot of data when breaking it down by individual hours. But here it is anyway - for all TP levels, these three things showed up(all in Eastern time):
- 7pm-4am: Fewer setups, but winrate high.
- 5am-6am: Lots of setups, but but winrate low.
- 12pm-3pm Medium number of setups, but winrate low.
I don't have any reason to think these timeframes would maintain this behavior over the long term. They're almost certainly meaningless. EDIT: When you de-dup highly correlated trades, the number of trades in these timeframes really drops, so from this data there is no reason to think these timeframes would be any different than any others in terms of winrate.
That being said, these time frames work out for me pretty well because I typically sleep 12am-7am Eastern time. So I automatically avoid the 5am-6am timeframe, and I'm awake for the majority of this system's setups.
Moving stops up to breakeven
This section goes against everything I know and have ever heard about trade management. Please someone find something wrong with my data. I'd love for someone to check my formulas, but I realize that's a pretty insane time commitment to ask of a bunch of strangers.
Anyways. What I found was that for these trades moving stops up...basically at all...actually reduced the overall profitability.
One of the data points I collected while charting was where the price retraced back to after hitting a certain milestone. i.e. once the price hit the -61.8% profit level, how far back did it retrace before hitting the -100% profit level(if at all)? And same goes for the -100% profit level - how far back did it retrace before hitting the -161.8% profit level(if at all)?
Well, some complex excel formulas later and here's what the results appear
to be. Emphasis on appears because I honestly don't believe it. I must have done something wrong here, but I've gone over it a hundred times and I can't find anything out of place.
- Moving SL up to 0% when the price hits -61.8%, TP at -100%
- Winrate: 46.4%
- Adjusted Proft % (takes spread into account): 5.36%
- Taking half position off at -61.8%, moving SL up to 0%, TP remaining half at -100%
- Winrate: 65.97%
- Adjusted Proft % (takes spread into account): -1.01% (yes, a net loss)
Now, you might think exactly what I did when looking at these numbers: oof, the spread killed us there right? Because even when you move your SL to 0%, you still end up paying the spread, so it's not truly "breakeven". And because we are trading on a lower timeframe, the spread can be pretty hefty right?
Well even when I manually modified the data so that the spread wasn't subtracted(i.e. "Breakeven" was truly +/- 0), things don't look a whole lot better, and still way worse than the passive trade management method of leaving your stops in place and letting it run. And that isn't even a realistic scenario because to adjust out the spread you'd have to move your stoploss inside the candle edge by at least the spread amount, meaning it would almost certainly be triggered more often than in the data I collected(which was purely based on the fib levels and mark price). Regardless, here are the numbers for that scenario:
- Moving SL up to 0% when the price hits -61.8%, TP at -100%
- Winrate(breakeven doesn't count as a win): 46.4%
- Adjusted Proft % (takes spread into account): 17.97%
- Taking half position off at -61.8%, moving SL up to 0%, TP remaining half at -100%
- Winrate(breakeven doesn't count as a win): 65.97%
- Adjusted Proft % (takes spread into account): 11.60%
From a literal standpoint, what I see behind this behavior is that 44 of the 69 breakeven trades(65%!) ended up being profitable to -100% after retracing deeply(but not to the original SL level), which greatly helped offset the purely losing trades better than the partial profit taken at -61.8%. And 36 went all the way back to -161.8% after a deep retracement without hitting the original SL. Anyone have any insight into this? Is this a problem with just not enough data? It seems like enough trades that a pattern should emerge, but again I'm no expert.
I also briefly looked at moving stops to other lower levels (78.6%, 61.8%, 50%, 38.2%, 23.6%), but that didn't improve things any. No hard data to share as I only took a quick look - and I still might have done something wrong overall.
The data is there to infer other strategies if anyone would like to dig in deep(more explanation on the spreadsheet below). I didn't do other combinations because the formulas got pretty complicated and I had already answered all the questions I was looking to answer.
2-Candle vs Confirmation Candle Stops
Another interesting point is that the original system has the SL level(for stop entries) just at the outer edge of the 2-candle pattern that makes up the system. Out of pure laziness, I set up my stops just based on the confirmation candle. And as it turns out, that is much a much better way to go about it.
Of the 60 purely losing trades, only 9 of them(15%) would go on to be winners with stops on the 2-candle formation. Certainly not enough to justify the extra loss and/or reduced profits you are exposing yourself to in every single other trade by setting a wider SL.
Oddly, in every single scenario where the wider stop did save the trade, it ended up going all the way to the -161.8% profit level. Still, not nearly worth it.
As I've said many times now, I'm really not qualified to be doing an analysis like this. This section in particular.
Looking at shared currency among the pairs traded, 74 of the trades are correlated. Quite a large group, but it makes sense considering the sort of moves we're looking for with this system.
This means you are opening yourself up to more risk if you were to trade on every signal since you are technically trading with the same underlying sentiment on each different pair. For example, GBP/USD and AUD/USD moving together almost certainly means it's due to USD moving both pairs, rather than GBP and AUD both moving the same size and direction coincidentally at the same time. So if you were to trade both signals, you would very likely win or lose both trades - meaning you are actually risking double what you'd normally risk(unless you halve both positions which can be a good option, and is discussed in ParallaxFX's posts and in various other places that go over pair correlation. I won't go into detail about those strategies here).
Interestingly though, 17 of those apparently correlated trades ended up with different wins/losses.
Also, looking only at trades that were correlated, winrate is 83%/70%/55% (for the three TP levels).
Does this give some indication that the same signal on multiple pairs means the signal is stronger? That there's some strong underlying sentiment driving it? Or is it just a matter of too small a sample size? The winrate isn't really much higher than the overall winrates, so that makes me doubt it is statistically significant.
One more funny tidbit: EUCAD netted the lowest overall winrate: 30% to even the -61.8% TP level on 10 trades. Seems like that is just a coincidence and not enough data, but dang that's a sucky losing streak. EDIT:
WOW I spent some time removing correlated trades manually and it changed the results quite a bit. Some thoughts on this below the results. These numbers also include the other "What I will trade" filters. I added a new worksheet to my data to show what I ended up picking.
- Total Trades: 75
- Raw Winrates:
- TP at -61.8%: 84.00%
- TP at -100%: 73.33%
- TP at -161.8%: 60.00%
- Moving SL up to 0% when the price hits -61.8%, TP at -100%: 53.33%
- Taking half position off at -61.8%, moving SL up to 0%, TP remaining half at -100%: 53.33% (yes, oddly the exact same winrate. but different trades/profits)
- Adjusted Proft % (takes spread into account):
- TP at -61.8%: 18.13%
- TP at -100%: 26.20%
- TP at -161.8%: 34.01%
- Moving SL up to 0% when the price hits -61.8%, TP at -100%: 19.20%
- Taking half position off at -61.8%, moving SL up to 0%, TP remaining half at -100%: 17.29%
To do this, I removed correlated trades - typically by choosing those whose spread had a lower % of the trade width since that's objective and something I can see ahead of time. Obviously I'd like to only keep the winning trades, but I won't know that during the trade. This did reduce the overall sample size down to a level that I wouldn't otherwise consider to be big enough, but since the results are generally consistent with the overall dataset, I'm not going to worry about it too much.
I may also use more discretionary methods(support/resistance, quality of indecision/confirmation candles, news/sentiment for the pairs involved, etc) to filter out correlated trades in the future. But as I've said before I'm going for a pretty mechanical system.
This brought the 3 TP levels and even the breakeven strategies much closer together in overall profit. It muted the profit from the high R:R strategies and boosted the profit from the low R:R strategies. This tells me pair correlation was skewing my data quite a bit, so I'm glad I dug in a little deeper. Fortunately my original conclusion to use the -161.8 TP level with static stops is still the winner by a good bit, so it doesn't end up changing my actions.
There were a few times where MANY (6-8) correlated pairs all came up at the same time, so it'd be a crapshoot to an extent. And the data showed this - often then won/lost together, but sometimes they did not. As an arbitrary rule, the more correlations, the more trades I did end up taking(and thus risking). For example if there were 3-5 correlations, I might take the 2 "best" trades given my criteria above. 5+ setups and I might take the best 3 trades, even if the pairs are somewhat correlated.
I have no true data to back this up, but to illustrate using one example: if AUD/JPY, AUD/USD, CAD/JPY, USD/CAD all set up at the same time (as they did, along with a few other pairs on 6/19/20 9:00 AM), can you really say that those are all the same underlying movement? There are correlations between the different correlations, and trying to filter for that seems rough. Although maybe this is a known thing, I'm still pretty green to Forex - someone please enlighten me if so! I might have to look into this more statistically, but it would be pretty complex to analyze quantitatively, so for now I'm going with my gut and just taking a few of the "best" trades out of the handful.
Overall, I'm really glad I went further on this. The boosting of the B/E strategies makes me trust my calculations on those more since they aren't so far from the passive management like they were with the raw data, and that really had me wondering what I did wrong.
What I will trade
Putting all this together, I am going to attempt to trade the following(demo for a bit to make sure I have the hang of it, then for keeps):
- "System Details" I described above.
- TP at -161.8%
- Static SL at opposite side of confirmation candle - I won't move stops up to breakeven.
- Trade only 7am-11am and 4pm-11pm signals.
- Nothing where spread is more than 25% of trade width.
Looking at the data for these rules, test results are:
- Winrate: 58.19%
- Adjusted Proft % (takes spread into account): 47.43%
I'll be sure to let everyone know how it goes!
Other Technical Details
- ATR is only slightly elevated in this date range from historical levels, so this should fairly closely represent reality even after the COVID volatility leaves the scalpers sad and alone.
- The sample size is much too small for anything really meaningful when you slice by hour or pair. I wasn't particularly looking to test a specific pair here - just the system overall as if you were going to trade it on all pairs with a reasonable spread.
Raw Data Here's the spreadsheet for anyone that'd like it.
(EDIT: Updated some of the setups from the last few days that have fully played out now. I also noticed a few typos, but nothing major that would change the overall outcomes. Regardless, I am currently reviewing every trade to ensure they are accurate.UPDATE: Finally all done. Very few corrections, no change to results.)
I have some explanatory notes below to help everyone else understand the spiraled labyrinth of a mind that put the spreadsheet together.
- I'm on the East Coast in the US, so the timestamps are Eastern time.
- Time stamp is from the confirmation candle, not the indecision candle. So 7am would mean the indecision candle was 6:00-6:59 and the confirmation candle is 7:00-7:59 and you'd put in your order at 8:00.
- I found a couple AM/PM typos as I was reviewing the data, so let me know if a trade doesn't make sense and I'll correct it.
Insanely detailed spreadsheet notes
For you real nerds out there. Here's an explanation of what each column means:
- Pair - duh
- Date/Time - Eastern time, confirmation candle as stated above
- Win to -61.8%? - whether the trade made it to the -61.8% TP level before it hit the original SL.
- Win to -100%? - whether the trade made it to the -100% TP level before it hit the original SL.
- Win to -161.8%? - whether the trade made it to the -161.8% TP level before it hit the original SL.
- Retracement level between -61.8% and -100% - how deep the price retraced after hitting -61.8%, but before hitting -100%. Be careful to look for the negative signs, it's easy to mix them up. Using the fib% levels defined in ParallaxFX's original thread. A plain hyphen "-" means it did not retrace, but rather went straight through -61.8% to -100%. Positive 100 means it hit the original SL.
- Retracement level between -100% and -161.8% - how deep the price retraced after hitting -100%, but before hitting -161.8%. Be careful to look for the negative signs, it's easy to mix them up. Using the fib% levels defined in ParallaxFX's original thread. A plain hyphen "-" means it did not retrace, but rather went straight through -100% to -161.8%. Positive 100 means it hit the original SL.
- Trade Width(Pips) - the size of the confirmation candle, and thus the "width" of your trade on which to determine position size, draw fib levels, etc.
- Loser saved by 2 candle stop? - for all losing trades, whether or not the 2-candle stop loss would have saved the trade and how far it ended up getting if so. "No" means it didn't save it, N/A means it wasn't a losing trade so it's not relevant.
- Spread(ThinkorSwim) - these are typical spreads for these pairs on ToS.
- Spread % of Width - How big is the spread compared to the trade width? Not used in any calculations, but interesting nonetheless.
- True Risk(Trade Width + Spread) - I set my SL at the opposite side of the confirmation candle knowing that I'm actually exposing myself to slightly more risk because of the spread(stop order = market order when submitted, so you pay the spread). So this tells you how many pips you are actually risking despite the Trade Width. I prefer this over setting the stop inside from the edge of the candle because some pairs have a wide spread that would mess with the system overall. But also many, many of these trades retraced very nearly to the edge of the confirmation candle, before ending up nicely profitable. If you keep your risk per trade at 1%, you're talking a true risk of, at most, 1.25% (in worst-case scenarios with the spread being 25% of the trade width as I am going with above).
- Win or Loss in %(1% risk) including spread TP -61.8% - not going to go into huge detail, see the spreadsheet for calculations if you want. But, in a nutshell, if the trade was a win to 61.8%, it returns a positive # based on 61.8% of the trade width, minus the spread. Otherwise, it returns the True Risk as a negative. Both normalized to the 1% risk you started with.
- Win or Loss in %(1% risk) including spread TP -100% - same as the last, but 100% of Trade Width.
- Win or Loss in %(1% risk) including spread TP -161.8% - same as the last, but 161.8% of Trade Width.
- Win or Loss in %(1% risk) including spread TP -100%, and move SL to breakeven at 61.8% - uses the retracement level columns to calculate profit/loss the same as the last few columns, but assuming you moved SL to 0% fib level after price hit -61.8%. Then full TP at 100%.
- Win or Loss in %(1% risk) including spread take off half of position at -61.8%, move SL to breakeven, TP 100% - uses the retracement level columns to calculate profit/loss the same as the last few columns, but assuming you took of half the position and moved SL to 0% fib level after price hit -61.8%. Then TP the remaining half at 100%.
- Overall Growth(-161.8% TP, 1% Risk) - pretty straightforward. Assuming you risked 1% on each trade, what the overall growth level would be chronologically(spreadsheet is sorted by date).
Based on the reasonable rules I discovered in this backtest:
- Date range: 6/11-7/3
- Winrate: 58.19%
- Adjusted Proft % (takes spread into account): 47.43%
Demo Trading Results
Since this post, I started demo trading this system assuming a 5k capital base and risking ~1% per trade. I've added the details to my spreadsheet for anyone interested. The results are pretty similar to the backtest when you consider real-life conditions/timing are a bit different. I missed some trades due to life(work, out of the house, etc), so that brought my total # of trades and thus overall profit down, but the winrate is nearly identical. I also closed a few trades early due to various reasons(not liking the price action, seeing support/resistance emerge, etc).
A quick note is that TD's paper trade system fills at the mid price for both stop and limit orders, so I had to subtract the spread from the raw trade values to get the true profit/loss amount for each trade.
I'm heading out of town next week, then after that it'll be time to take this sucker live!
- 86 Trades
- Date range: 7/9-7/30
- Winrate: 52.32%
- Adjusted Proft % (takes spread into account): 20.73%
- Starting Balance: $5,000
- Ending Balance: $6,036.51
Live Trading Results
I started live-trading this system on 8/10, and almost immediately had a string of losses much longer than either my backtest or demo period. Murphy's law huh? Anyways, that has me spooked so I'm doing a longer backtest before I start risking more real money. It's going to take me a little while due to the volume of trades, but I'll likely make a new post once I feel comfortable with that and start live trading again.
Our CEO Drew Niv held a Q&A with Forex Magnates which will answer many questions we have received over the past couple of weeks http://forexmagnates.com/exclusive-fxcm-inc-ceo-drew-niv-discusses-firms-future-after-the-chf-crisis/
. Please understand that some questions I can't answer since we are a publicly traded company and it may be material information, but we will get to all questions in due time. What happened on January 15th after the SNB announcement? What was the immediate impact of the SNB announcement on the company’s systems?
At the time of the SNB announcement over 3,000 FXCM clients held slightly over $1 billion in open positions on EUCHF. Those same clients held approximately $80 million of collateral in their accounts. As you know this was the largest move of a major currency since currencies started floating 1971.
The EUCHF move was 44 standard deviation moves, while most risk management systems only contemplate 3-6 standard deviations. The moved wiped out those clients’ account equity as well as generated negative equity balances owed to FXCM of over $225 million. We believe that the FXCM system operated properly during this event.
The caveat of our no dealing-desk execution system is that traders are offset one for one with a liquidity provider. When a client entered a EUCHF trade with FXCM, FXCM Inc. had an identical trade with our liquidity providers. During the historic move, liquidity became extremely scarce and shallow, which affected execution prices. This liquidity issue resulted in some clients having a negative balance.
While clients could not cover their margin call with us we still had to cover the same margin call with our banks. When a client profits in the trade FXCM gives the profits to the customer, however, when the client is not profitable on that trade FXCM Inc. ends up having to pay the liquidity provider.
FXCM ended with a regulatory capital shortfall. Accordingly, FXCM needed to get a loan to cover this balance, which it did. For anyone that still thinks FXCM is running an FX dealing desk, we have now demonstrated that such is not the case. Why do you think many people traded EUCHF with FXCM?
Because we are a no dealing-desk broker and offset each trade one-for-one with our liquidity providers, and only make money on trades not customer losses. We published a study a few years ago called “traits of successful traders” that looked at FXCM traders over a long period of time and their general behavior to find what was destructive behavior to stay away from and what worked for clients.
The study focuses on what the majority of profitable traders did to increase their odds of success. What the study found was that traders who traded during quiet range-bound market hours like Asian hours OR that traded rang- bound low volatility currency pairs tended to be more profitable.
Obviously many of our competitors who are on the opposite side of their clients’ trades did not find this trade to be helpful to their bottom line, as they lose money when traders profit. We saw many of the dealing desk firms begin to increase overnight rollover cost as well as raise margin requirements to get these trades off their system and that’s why FXCM and other STP brokers had much bigger exposure. Why did FXCM require an emergency loan with such tough terms?
As a regulated broker we are required to notify our regulators in a timely manner when any event occurs that may be deemed sensitive to clients. When we notified the regulators, they required FXCM Inc.’s regulated entities to supplement their respective net capital on an expedited basis.
We explored multiple debt and equity financing alternatives in an effort to meet the regulator’s deadline. The deal we ended up doing with Leucadia was the only deal that could and would happen in the very short timeframe we were given by the regulators. The CEO and the president of Leucadia were here in the office working on the deal.
It was a tall order for someone outside of the FX industry to come in and write a $300 million dollar check. This was the type of thing only top management could do. But they see the sustainability of FXCM, and that was everyone’s end goal. We really are very thankful to Leucadia. The deal enables us to live and fight another day and gives us time to build shareholder value in the future. You said you plan to pay back the loan with proceeds from sales of non-core assets so what are non-core assets and will that be enough?
We announced last week that we anticipate that with the proceeds from the sale of some non-core assets and continued earnings we can meet both near and long-term obligations of our financing, while preserving the strength of our franchise. It’s widely known and understood that FXCM’s core business has always been retail FX; It is the majority of FXCM’s revenue.
However, over the past few years, the company has spent over $250 million dollars making strategic acquisitions building up our non-core businesses, mainly the institutional side as we tried to diversify the firm. We are now looking to sell some of those non-core assets; But, we are not in a rush and are looking to get the highest valuations for these assets.
We are considering closing or selling smaller regulated entities that require large sums of capital requirements, but that offer increasingly low return on capital. The latter move allows us to free up significant amounts of cash that is currently trapped. We believe that in the near term we can pay down a majority of the loan. That’s our goal. What happens after 90 days according to your agreement with Leucadia?
The agreement says we need to pay back $50 million of the loan along with $10 million in fees in 90 days. If we don’t pay that $60 million, we will be assessed an additional $30 million in fees when the loan is due in 2017. So we are going to pay our $60 million and hopefully more in 90 days and then go from there. To be clear, the financing does not force us to do anything at 90 days. Will you be selling FXCM?
I absolutely do not plan on selling FXCM. Like I said we will be selling non-core assets but no I don’t plan on selling FXCM. That is also why we implemented the shareholder rights plan to prevent a hostile takeover. FXCM has been independent for over 15 years and we intend to stay that way. Are client funds safe with FXCM?
Yes. As we have said, we believe FXCM’s systems operated properly during this event. I’ll stress it here again, FXCM is not insolvent, has not filed for any form of bankruptcy, and is in compliance with all regulatory capital requirements in the jurisdictions in which it operates. The financing we received from Leucadia has strengthened our balance sheet and gives us the opportunity to grow our core business. With Leucadia, our pockets are even deeper and we aren’t going anywhere. Additionally, all of our regulated entities except the U.S. provide clients with segregated funds. All of our global client base in our regulated entities minus US clients would be protected under a bankruptcy. Our UK regulated entity through the FSCS even offers clients £50,000 per person in protection. Canada has similar insurance for retail traders of up to $1 million CAD. What are the relationships like with your liquidity providers after this event?
Many of these relationships are long-standing relationships. The entire industry took a hit here. They understand what happened. Most everyone halted trading in EUCHF, but half of our liquidity providers kept providing prices in all other pairs the entire time. Half of the LPs did stop pricing FXCM on Friday January 16th, but most have returned. We presently only have two providers that have not yet returned, but we are optimistic that they will soon return. There is still plenty of liquidity on the platform. Most banks and other liquidity providers have been working very closely with the FXCM team. Where do you see FXCM in six months from now?
We will be well on our way to paying down the loan and continue to grow our core franchise. FXCM still has the best platform for retail traders, we still provide the fairest and more transparent execution in the business and we have a slew of new trading indicators and applications that no one in the space is even considering offering their clients. We’ll still be here; We may just look a little different. Here are a few things we are working to get out in the next six months:
Single Share CFDs – We are going to be offering the top 200 or so most traded US, UK, French and German stocks. We are going to offer these shares on the equivalent of NDD in FX.
Improving CFD execution – Sharpening execution capabilities to match some of the benefits of our FX capabilities for Index and Energy CFDs to remove restrictions on stops and limits, allowing APIs, along with tighter spreads.
Market Depth in FX – clients will be able to see the depth of liquidity which will provide them more transparency with execution quality and allow them to make more informed trading decisions.
Real Volume indicators – clients will have a real volume ticker of all trades done on the FXCM system, which will show clients’ actual order flow; they can see directional volume, so long, short, net or total volume as well as balance on volume per instrument; and finally we have an indicator to show the ratio of real volume divided into transactions per period. These indicators will let clients compare our trading activity against other independent providers who also publish volumes like the CME, and clients will be able to compare execution.
Sentiment Index – We will be providing FXCM’s client sentiment data in real-time as a default on the platform so clients can see where the rest of the clients are.
These software updates and platform features are bringing much more transparency to the retail FX market aimed at improving the client experience in the market. With your stock price so low, is that an indication of the health of your company?
While it is true that FXCM’s stock price dropped after the events of January 15th, we do not believe that the present stock price is indicative of the health of the company. The stock price does not impact our day to day operations as a company. With the injection of cash from the Leucadia financing, the core retail business is functioning completely as normal. We have excess regulatory capital in all our regulated entities and never had to pause trading or interrupt client’s trading experience. As we announced in our business update, daily volume on the retail side was on pace to set an all-time company record. Why didn’t the dealing desk brokers have these types of losses?
A dealing desk broker does not have offsetting trades. If the customer is long a trade the broker is short that trade, so when the customer makes a profit on a trade the broker loses. When the customer loses on the trade then the broker is profitable.
Obviously on January 15th most clients lost money so the dealer was very profitable. Even for clients that blew through their stops and had negative balances with these firms, the dealer doesn’t have a liquidity provider that it owes money to. They can essentially act like the negative balances never happened and enjoy their profits. What is FXCM changing with regards to their risk management systems?
The primary change we will be making is removing currency pairs from the platform that carry significant risk due to over-active manipulation by their respective government either by a floor, ceiling, peg or band. Given what happened with EUCHF the industry is now looking very hard at any potentially similar issues, especially given the increased geopolitical risks in Southern and Eastern Europe.
We will also be raising margin requirements for other pairs as well. Some of these changes will be permanent while others may change as geopolitical risks change. The pairs we are removing from the platform were not material to our volume or our revenue. Some of the currencies we are removing include DKK, SGD, HKD, PLN and CZK. FXCM made some material changes in margin requirements for clients. Are those changes permanent or temporary in nature?
When you look at some of the changes we made to margin requirements, look at them in three different categories: 1. Some of the changes we made were required by regulators, and therefore we had to comply with these changes. 2. When you look at emerging market currencies, the banks and our liquidity providers were raising margin requirements to eliminate any potential risk of large gaps. 3. Previously liquid Western country currencies, like the DKK or CHF, which now carry risk because they are manipulated currencies, have become less liquid.
Despite what the media thinks about leverage, we know the clients like it and want more, it’s the number 1 or number 2 request our sales staff has been getting the past week. We understand the importance of this to our clients but we just need to be smart about it moving forward. What is Black Thursday’s long-term impact on the retail foreign exchange industry? In what ways has it changed the direction the industry is going?
Banks are raising their margin requirements, too. A lot of these currencies that carry any type of geopolitical risk with them are going to lose support and liquidity. Investors always had little faith in emerging market currencies but always believed in Western countries’ currencies even if they were manipulated in some way, but that’s gone.
Switzerland is a Western country and if they can pull the shenanigans they did with their currency, what’s to say other western countries won’t do the same? The market is going to be very sceptical as they can only stand to lose; The risk is just too high now. It’s too bad really as these pairs historically had low volatility, were range-bound and were very profitable trades for clients.
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