Saturday, July 25, 2009


"Start small, dream big, build deep" Ng Tee How, President of AFACT

Yes, to all aspiring traders, that's sound advice.

"Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises." - Demosthenes, Greek orator.

Met many traders during the launch of AFACT, Association of Financial and Commodity Traders (S) on the 23rd July 2009 and again the topic of "algo" trading seems to be the talk of the town. Here is the link to what "algo" is all about,

These high frequency traders generated about US$21 billion in profit last year according to estimates by a research firm. These high-frequency specialists clearly have an edge over typical traders with their powerful computers housed right next to the Exchanges.

These systems are so fast they can outsmart or outrun other investors, humans and computers alike. A loophole in regulations allows market places like Nasdaq to show traders some orders ahead of everyone else in exchange for a fee. That's definitely unfair advantage for those who have deep pockets.

I don't see such high-frequency trading in most Asian exchanges at the moment and such edge shouldn't be given to those few who can afford to pay a price for it. Many traders complained about these "algo" traders in the futures market with their intelligent software to "catch and squeeze them". There is no doubt that trading is difficult in the last 2 months, with lower volume, summer holidays and a trending up market.

Most traders don't do well in a trending up market, as it tend to whipsaw on it's way up unlike a falling market that can be drastic. There is definitely manipulation by the big boys in the market with their financial muscle, and if they are smart, that's a huge advantage, but don't forget Nick Leeson causes the collapse of Baring Bank trying to support the Nikkei!

These big boys such as hedge funds, mutual funds, unit trusts and banks operate on behalf of their rich clients to take high risk trades so as to get a cut of the profits and commission. It doesn't hurt their pocket when they lose, just bye bye and close shop. Not many of them make money while their investors are the real suckers.

Many traders are clearly unhappy and frustrated with the "algo" chipping away their profits but as traders we need to be flexible to adjust to the ever changing trading environment. We can still make money with sound money management and the trading skill acquired over the years, just tune it a little bit here and there. I don't feel such a huge impact of these "algo" traders, if I don't make money on any given day, it's because I am stubborn and don't follow the rules, it's my own problem!

"You can't stop the waves, but can can learn to surf" - Jon Kabat-Zinn

Robert is leaving the trading arcade to trade from home by the end of the month. I feel sad that he is leaving as he is the one who has given me a lot of inspiration to make a come back to trade in the arcade. I still remember his words of encouragement "is making about S$1,000/- a day OK with you?" I went back thinking, if Robert can make it, why can't I do it?

Robert's style of trading don't require so much speed, he is a tactical trader waiting for the right entry level and an extra-ordinary patience in riding profits on his good trades. He is so easy going and relax, watching you-tube and movies while trading and monitoring the market. I really admire him and how he can do it yet still being highly profitable.

Profit for the special account took a hit from the widening of the Topix/Nikkei spread, down to S$14,937.00. Now holding long 4 spread, didn't expect it to widen that much. That's one of the major problem of a trader, so, always "expect the unexpected"

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