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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.

Catering_at_the_University_of_Exeter_(10137691074)

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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Shifting Spreads and Such

Shifting spreads keeping you guessing?

Indian_Chameleon_(Chamaeleo_zeylanicus)_Photograph_By_Shantanu_Kuveskar

Just as a chameleon will change to match a variety of backgrounds, in the currency market spread will invariably change to match market events. Here at the Apiary Fund, the ECN style market structure shows constantly changing spreads throughout the day. Spreads are either set naturally (by pending orders in the market) or, if the market is not liquid, set by the liquidity provider.

Since spreads will widen or shrink often, it is common to see them fluctuate during the open or close of trading sessions. This makes sense because the open and close of each trading session are usually the most volatile. Spreads will also adjust for

-Uncertainty in the direction of prices

-News events

-Volatility shifts

-Changes in liquidity

Liquidity providers use spread to help manage risk by either encouraging or discouraging the trading of the liquidity provider’s currency inventory. For example, if a liquidity provider wants to move inventory, they might narrow the spread to encourage trading; similarly, if they want to retain inventory, they might increase the spread to discourage trading in that currency. The magnitude of the spread indicates the degree to which a liquidity provider wants to encourage or discourage trading. Obviously, during uncertain times of high volatility and news events, it’s common to see spreads widen–sometimes significantly!

While spreads will always vary, by knowing why they’re changing you’re showing that you understand what’s moving the market. If you can understand spread changes, you’re one step closer to really knowing how to trade. You will be acting instead of reacting. Now see if you can predict where the next shift will be!

Happy Trading!

Shawn Lucas

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What An Old Fisherman Taught Me About The Markets

One of the greatest investors of all time had to be Noah…  They say Noah was able to float his stock while the rest of the world was in liquidation.  Impressive, eh!  While he may have been a good investor, he couldn’t have been much of a fisherman.  Why?  He only had two worms.

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If you’ve spent much time with a rod and reel, you might be quick to recognize the many lessons the sport teaches us about money in the market

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Here’s a short story about what an old fisherman – not Noah — taught me about the markets!

Link to Short Story:

http://issuu.com/apiaryfund/docs/apiary-fund-old-fisherman

Enjoy, and Happy Trading!

-Shawn

 

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Warning: This Post May Cause…

Disneyland Prop 65 WarningCAUTION

We all know everything in California is known to cause cancer, right? How could you miss it when there are warning signs posted on your grocery bags, in your hotel room, a restaurant, and even as you enter the Disneyland Resort. If simply entering the state is known to ‘cause cancer and birth defects,’ then why do 38.8 million people live there?

And we all know trading forex is dangerous. The warning that a bunch of power hungry wall street suits are scrambling around just to steal your money. You might as well be gambling, right? Then why are millions of trading transactions taking place every day?

Trading Forex is about as dangerous as going to California for vacation. Sure,  California has the potential to be harmful…if you go around licking signposts, eating wrappers, and sunbathing without sunscreen. Trading Forex might not be as relaxing as a nice trip to California, but it’s not a dangerous slot machine either. As long as you follow some common trading sense rules, you’ll avoid the substantial losses that instill hefty doses of fear in each of us.

Take time to learn how to trade safely, and you don’t need to fear the market. The Apiary Fund teaches and funds traders in the currency market, so you’re covered as you start the learning curve that comes with a new skill. Learn more at apiaryfund.com

Happy Trading!

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Delusions Every Trader Faces

Usually when we think of delusions we imagine mental disorders: someone struggling with schizophrenia or hypochondria. We may even imagine somebody we know–somebody who is high-strung with anxiety and convinced the world is out to get them. There are some pretty bizarre delusions out there:

  • Ever feel like you’re life is a movie? For people suffering from the Truman Show Delusion, they’re literally convinced that their life is a reality show they can’t escape from. This article on Buzzfeed reports that a man actually sued HBO for putting him on a secret reality show.
  • As if living your life in a reality tv show wasn’t bad enough, imagine your life was a video game! Want to score points to win? Steal cars, avoid police, and receive your instructions through your gaming headphones. Even if you’re arrested, it’s just another level to the game. (Source)
  • Do you know someone who lives their life in denial–to the point that they don’t even think they exist? A rare condition known as ‘Walking Corpse Syndrome’ is a delusion where the individual is convinced that they’re already dead or don’t exist. Some even claim to be able to smell their own rotting flesh.

I think most of us suffer from multiple delusions (hopefully not that serious, though). A delusion is a belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational. I’d like to think that I’m connected with reality and don’t belong in an asylum (my family might tell you differently, especially when I’m even remotely lacking sleep), but as I’ve grown older I’ve been able to look back and recognize the delusions I used to live by. Most traders experience delusions as well.

Traders, both new and old, often experience delusions in the currency market. Some common ones we might face:

  • “If I just keep trading, I can make a little more money.” That’s a scary delusion. You can be following the charts all day making trades, but it’s not about how many it’s about how well. The quality of your trades is much more important than the quantity.
  • “I can make some quick, easy cash in Forex.” The economy is not a magic box where you put a little money in and get a lot of money out. Trading requires discipline and strategy–not luck.
  • “It’s going to come back soon…”  This delusion can bring you down. Fast. When you hit your stop loss, it’s time to get out. Trying to hang on to a losing trade is like trying to hang onto a hangnail–it’s a lot less painful to just cut it off.

We’re all at least a little guilty of these delusions, but a diagnostic is the first step to a cure. Review some of your past trades, and identify any delusions that affected the outcome. Then, find a way to overcome them; you can share it with a friend or mentor, keep a reminder next to your computer, or even watch a cheesy motivational trading video. Whatever you need to do, don’t let yourself be the reason you don’t succeed.
Happy Trading!

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How Running Has Helped Me Become a Better Trader

Ever been stuck in the slumps? Yeah, me too.

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For the past couple of months I’ve felt like the man in this picture. When I ran, I was just going through the motions-just trying to finish my work out. Sure, there were some good days here and there, but I knew that I wasn’t reaching my potential as a runner. I also wasn’t feeling the happiness and energy I usually felt after a good run. I approached my coach, and he gave me some steps to help me out of this rut I’d gotten myself into. However, I realized that these steps wouldn’t just help me in my running; they could help me with my profession, my social life, and (of course) my trading.

  1. Set my sights higher than just the next race

I know you’ve all probably heard more than your fair share of motivational speeches centered on goal setting, but honestly there is something about a goal that just helps you focus on improvement. When I stopped and focused on what I was going to accomplish the racing season, I saw each race as a step to reaching my personal record. When trading, you have to look further down the road than your next trade.   What do you want to accomplish today?  This week?  This month? You have to set your sights higher than a single trade and discover what you can do to accomplish your personal best.

  1. Stop running so much

What? To improve running you need to stop running? To a degree, yes. Running daily is very important, but I always reserve one day of the week to resting and recovery. Without this break, I would end up running less during the week because my legs would become overworked. Sometimes, you need a little break from trading. Don’t spend all day with your eyes glued to the candles on your screen-go for a run or something 😉

  1. Track your mileage

I always track my mileage – along with how much sleep I get, and the food I eat. This not only helps me feel good throughout the season, but I can look back and see when I was struggling or doing good. By tracking my progress this way I can see what made me sick or tired and what made me feel good and energized. Track your trades. Notice what setups work for you, and what triggers an unwanted emotional response. Besides, whether your profitable or not, it always feels good to look back and see the progress you’re making.

  1. Mix it up

Contrary to what some may imagine of a typical cross country runner, I actually lift a lot weights. My core and upper body strength is just as important as having strong legs when I run. Sometimes, at the end of a race, if your legs feel like they don’t have the energy you can pump your arms, and ,crazily enough, your legs will follow! When you’re trading you need to be prepared for different market events. Learn to trade in long summer doldrums, as well as high votility markets.

  1. Change your attitude

One of my pet peeves is when I go to a race, and hear runners complain that they have to run. Don’t you run because you like it? If you don’t like it, then why are you here running?! I like feeling strong, the runner’s high, and swelling accomplishment that fills you up and makes you feel like floating. What do you like about trading? If you can’t answer this question, then you need to find out why you’re trading. Identifying why you’re trading will help get you through the slumps.

I hope if you’re feeling a little bit stuck in a rut in your trading, that you can try these out. Make trading enjoyable again, and go make some pips.

Happy Trading!

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Demo Accounts Hold You Responsible

“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” -Thomas Edison

Hello Traders,

Take a look at this equity curve from one of Apiary’s demo accounts:

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What do you see?

I see someone with a mental block. However, I also see that they kept trying. Go back and take a look at that quote I’m sure most of you just skimmed over. Perspiration (i.e. hard work) is the key to becoming “genius.” This definitely applies to trading. Apiary Fund’s demo accounts offer a chance to become a genius at trading.  It gives you real life trading scenarios and demands without any of the pressure of trading real money. This teaches you to think and develop strategy instead of relying on luck. Luck will run out eventually, and it will be necessary to develop a strategy.

If you haven’t guessed by now, this is one of my demo accounts. Personally, I like to use a consolidation breakout strategy, and when I use it right it produces a nice equity curve. Using this, or any strategy, requires discipline and hard work. A friend gave me 7 steps to consider before placing any trade.

  1. Proper preparation
  2. Hard Work
  3. Patience
  4. A detailed plan before every trade
  5. Discipline
  6. Communication
  7. Replaying important trades

While each of these steps may mean something different to each of you, everyone could benefit by considering them before entering a trade.  With each of my big losing trades, I missed applying at least one of these seven steps.  My rebounding wins happened because I chose to follow these steps. I’ve learned that I can’t control what happens with a trade after I’ve placed it, but I can control what I do before placing it. My 6 biggest losing trades in this account are responsible for over half of the total equity lost. That’s out of 50 losing trades! Whether I wasn’t patient enough to wait for the right setup, or I didn’t have an exit plan, some step was overlooked. That is something I CAN fix. There is nothing wrong with losing a trade, that’s just part of the game. What’s important is that I follow my trade plan and stick to it-no matter the temptation to jump into a trade without proper preparation. I can handle the other 44 losses. They wouldn’t amount to much because I followed an exit strategy in each of them.

I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes, and hopefully you can all apply it to your trading:

Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!” -Rocky Balboa

Happy Trading!

Jacob Johnson

Trader Support

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What Makes a Trader Successful?

How would you answer this question?  What is it that makes a trader successful? Is there one special quality they need, one bit of knowledge they need to learn, one tool that they could use to make them successful?  Or maybe, it’s just luck.  They are lucky, and now they are successful!

Well, the truth is, there is no one simple thing that can be given to immediately make a trader successful.  Luck may help sometimes, but it’s not a reliable process that we can count on.  The only consistent and proven way that makes a trader successful is by the process of hard work.  Nothing will be given to you without you putting the time and effort into your trading, and even then it may still take a while.  Time and hard work will eventually place you in a position where you can be successful.  The question is – are you willing to put in the time and effort needed to become a successful trader?

Successful traders have spent the time to learn how to trade, and then used that knowledge to create a trading plan.  Most have written their rules down, so they know exactly what to do to enter a trade and to exit a trade.  If I asked everyone to send me their written trading plan (please don’t, I don’t have enough time to read them), most traders couldn’t because they either don’t have one or haven’t taken the time to make it real by putting it down on paper.  If you don’t have a well-defined and written trading plan, then you are not ready to become a successful trader.  This is something that takes time and hard work.  Again, I ask – are you willing to put the time and effort to become successful?

The development of a trading plan does not need to be complicated. In fact, it should be as simple as possible.  Let me suggest a few things that you should begin to develop your trading plan.

  1. Define the “why” for your trading.  I know you want to make money but the “why” is more than just money, it is the reason behind your need for money.
  2. Define your risk rules.  You need to identify your “sweet spot” for how much you are willing to risk.  If you risk too much you will become fearful and if you don’t risk enough you will feel unsatisfied.  This should include how much risk you want to take in each trade, as well as how to calculate your position size.
  3. Define your entry and exit rules.  I will put this into two categories.  Setups and triggers.  The setup is what you see on the chart to know a trade is about to happen while a trigger is what you see on the chart that tells you it’s time to buy or sell.
  4. Define your analysis process. This is what you are going to do to analyze your trades after they are done.  Do this on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to make sure your trading plan is working the way you want.

Ok, so that’s it! (Well, at least some of it) If you want to be successful then create a well-defined and written trading plan.  Do not leave your success to luck or chance or anything else.  It’s up to you – now go and put the time and effort into your success!  Be that successful trader you want to be!

Happy Trading!

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What About Benjamins?

Born in Boston on January 17, 1706 was the tenth son of a soap maker. He was known as Benjamin Franklin, and not only did he contribute to the shaping of science and history but his face graces every $100 bill that’s been printed since 1914. How does our dear friend Ben measure up to his treasured namesake, the $100?

BENJAMIN_FRANKLIN-1 c-note
Benjamin (Franklin) Benjamin ($100)
-Born on January 17, 1706 in Boston, MA -The version we know (with Ben’s face) was born in 1914, when Reserve Banks were established in 12 locations through the U.S.
-Alias: “silence dogood” -Alias: “c-note”
-Spent time abroad as an ambassador in both England and Paris -About 2/3 are in circulation outside the U.S.
-Invented a type of oven, swimfins, and bifocals -It costs 12.5 cents to produce
-Apprenticed at, worked at, ran, and owned a print shop -Printed in Washington D.C. and Fort Worth, Texas
-In 2009, one of the only 1733 original printed copies known to exist of his ‘Poor Richard’ Almanac was sold to an anonymous bidder for $556,500 -When the new version of the bill came out in 2013, the bill with serial number ‘1’ is estimated to be worth somewhere between $10,000 to $20,000
-Lived for 84 years (died April 17, 1790) -Avg lifespan is 90 months (~7.5 year)

 

One more thing you might not have known about Benjamin Franklin. His scientific and financial savvy (along with his good advice) inspired Apiary Fund’s Benjamin Formula. A formula that can help you determine whether or not to take a trade as well as how risky your trade will be. Pretty neat, huh? So follow the example of Benjamin Franklin while you’re trying to make your benjamins today!

“Well done is better than well said.” -Benjamin Franklin

Happy Trading!

For more information on the Benjamin Formula (not the Benjamin Graham formula) click here.

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