his following article has been extracted from David Jenyns' Trading Secrets Revealed Course and a must for traders to have a look into.
The most important rule in trading is to keep your losses small. This is the only way to ensure that if the market moves against you, you will live to trade another day – in other words, you will not suffer a loss that will take you out of the trading game. Remember, 95% of trades will lose – do your best not to be one of them.
One of the best ways to do this is to ensure that you have a fixed amount as a proportion of your account that you are willing to risk on any trade. This ensures that if you have a losing trade, you will only lose the predetermined amount.
This has been discussed in previous articles and will be discussed again in future ones as well. In general, the maximum loss should be set to no more than 1-3% of your total trading float. This seems very small but it can lead to huge gains in the long run.
Another rule is to try and estimate your target value. In other words, what is the value of the stock that you are expecting it to go to? You should only enter the trade if you expect the trade to provide more if you obtain your target value than lose if you hit your maximum loss value. Your mechanical trading system should be built with this principle in mind.
The Reward / Risk Ratio
This is a good time to introduce the principle of the reward / risk ratio. In principle, this ratio will provide you with a very important piece of information to decide whether to enter into a trade or not.
If we believe that a trade will provide three times more profit than the amount that is risked, then the reward / risk ratio is 3:1. In a similar way, if we believe that there is three times more risk to a trade than there is of the trade winning, then the reward / risk is 1:3. The example below illustrates this in more detail.
We wish to purchase stock XYZ at $10 a share and we expect that the stock will increase to $11 over the space of about a month. We also place a stop level (i.e. a level that we will exit the stock) at $9.80 based on our mechanical trading system.
This means that the amount we will risk per share is $0.20 but we stand to gain approximately $1.00 per share. The reward / risk ratio is therefore 1:0.2 and this equates to 5:1. This means that there is 5 times more reward for the risk that you will incur. This trade seems like a good one to take!
Now we will not risk more than 2% of our account and that we have an account of $10,000. This means that we will not risk more than $400. As the reward/risk reward is 5:1, this means that we could stand to gain about $2,000 on this trade alone if we purchase $10,000 worth of shares!
As you will read further, it is not a good idea to put all of your money into one trade. The example above suggests that you will put all of your money into XYZ. In reality, it is a good idea to put only a fixed percentage of your money into one stock to ensure that you are not over exposed to the whims of one market alone. This will be discussed in future articles.
As another rule, the reward / risk must always be on your side – in other words, you must always have more of a chance to make more money than lose it. Some traders will insist on a reward / risk ratio of at least 3:1 before even considering the trade. They will not enter any other trade unless this ratio is met. You need to develop your own risk profile and stick to it.
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