Archive | February, 2016

Positions, Risk, and Buffets

You don’t want to have too many active positions open; it’s like eating too much food at your favorite buffet. Buffets can be good. Buffets can be very good. However, you almost always–or at least I do–walk (if you still can) away from a buffet in pain–sometimes in a great deal of pain. I like the illusion that I have control over myself around food, but that disappears as soon as I see a soft serve ice cream machine paired with caramel and hot fudge pumps. There’s this mode that I enter when I’m in a buffet. I become this mindless food eating machine that inhales plate after plate of mediocre greasy food just because I can. Forget the fact that I’ve been working on not eating carbs for the past three weeks, I’m have four or five rolls with honey butter.

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Did you know that Apiary limits the number of open or pending trades you can have? This isn’t an all-you-can-position buffet, and for good reason! Apiary limits the number of open trades or pending orders in an account for risk management purposes. Mainly because during extreme market conditions, slippage is of serious concern; a lack of liquidity on either the buy or sell side means orders may not be filled before slipping far beyond any stops. By limiting the number of pending or open positions, Apiary can better manage risk across the entire portfolio. Mitigating risk is beneficial for us as a company, and for you as a client.

In addition to Apiary’s risk management model, limiting the number of open positions is a good practice at the personal level. One argument for multiple positions is the benefit of diversification.  However, after about 8-12 open positions, the benefit can become incrementally smaller and can actually turn negative.  For example, a trader actively managing 100 open positions is far less effective than a person managing 10. In fact, this is one of the ideas that helped found Apiary! It’s far better to have a group of ten traders individually managing ten positions than to have one person managing 100. In the end, the same number of active positions are being managed, but with far less risk.

Happy Trading!

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Trading During Scheduled News Events

Last week, The U.S. Department of Labor presented the monthly update on nonfarm payrolls. This would be an example of a scheduled news event. This may come as a surprise to some of you, but did you know that Apiary usually discourages trading during scheduled news events? It’s not necessarily bad to trade during these events, but here is a couple of reasons behind our thinking:

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  1.     Spreads widen:  The cost of trading in the form of spreads increase during scheduled news events due to the expectation of volatility and risk; liquidity providers will widen the spread to mitigate risk.
  2.     Slippage increases:  It takes time for a quote to be sent from the liquidity provider, received by Alveo, and then have a trade sent back to the liquidity provider. The chances of slippage increase even more with the volatility of a news event.
  3.     Frequent whipsaws:  The initial reaction to a news announcement is not always right–we’ve all been warned about the consequences of first impressions– and markets can change direction many times before the full meaning of the news is digested.
  4.     Lack of liquidity:  Sometimes trades may not trigger due to a lack of liquidity during scheduled news events.
  5.     Hardware issues:  The volatility, along with the pace of data, during news events can put extra strain on your hardware–leading to a slowdown in performance or even malfunctions during a news event.

If you choose to trade during scheduled news events, it’s important for you to recognize the challenges associated with this type of trading and be willing to adjust for the probability of increased risk. Keep these points in mind, and as always…
Happy Trading!

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An Early Exit Strategy

It’s February, and that means it’s about the time you’re wishing winter would finally end! We just got a fresh new heap of snow on our lawn, and walking outside I couldn’t resist one teensy tiny snowball at my sister. Big mistake. You should not start a snowball fight, one that you intended to win at least, without first either

  1. building a snow fort
  2. planning an escape strategy

-or-

    3. making sure the most direct path indoors is clear*

It’s snowball prep 101 to have an exit strategy, especially if you’re going to be outnumbered. Even Buddy the Elf, with his north pole experience and skill, only engaged in a snowball fight without adequate protection after being ambushed by a set of amateurs.**

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With that being said, you wouldn’t enter any situation without a good exit strategy (can you sense where I’m going here?). Coerced into lunch with your mom’s book club? Set your dentist appointment for a half hour later. Blind date later tonight? Your best friend is scheduled to call at 9:00. We may make light of these situations, but when you find yourself in them you’ll have wished you made a plan.

On a more serious note, the consequences of not having an exit strategy can be more severe when you’re trading. It always pays off to take the time to know your exit strategy; Benjamin Franklin knew his stuff when he said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Set up your exit strategy early, and then enjoy the snowball fight…or, er…trade 😉

Happy Trading!

*I feel like I have the responsibility to mention that this is the coward’s path, and is not recommended if you wish you escape, albeit with a few battle scars, with dignity.

**Honestly, why would you throw a snowball at somebody who is clearly skilled in all aspects of winter.

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