It's possible to trade profitably on the Forex, the $6.6 trillion worldwide currency exchange market. But the odds are against you, even more so if you don't prepare and plan your trades. According to a 2014 Bloomberg report, several analyses of retail Forex trading, including one by the National Futures Association (NFA), the industry's regulatory body, concluded that more than two out of three Forex traders lose money. This suggests that self-education and caution are recommended. Here are some approaches that may improve your odds of making a profit.
- Prepare for smart forex trading with books like Matthew Maybury's Forex Strategies: Best Forex Strategies for High Profits and Reduced Risk.
- Learn how to use strategies like diversification, a trailing stop, or limit and stop orders to make your forex trading more profitable.
- As a beginning trader, go slowly and measure your gains versus losses every 30 trades to avoid making rash decisions.
Prepare Before You Begin Trading
Because the Forex market is highly leveraged—as much as 50 to 1—it can have the same appeal as buying a lottery ticket: some small chance of making a killing. This, however, isn't trading; it's gambling, with the odds long against you.
A better way of entering the Forex market is to carefully prepare. Beginning with a practice account is helpful and risk-free. While you're trading in your practice account, read the most frequently recommended Forex trading books, among them:
- Currency Forecasting: A Guide to Fundamental and Technical Models of Exchange Rate Determination, by Michael R. Rosenberg, is a short and highly admired introduction to the Forex market.
- Forex Strategies: Best Forex Strategies for High Profits and Reduced Risk, by Matthew Maybury, is an excellent introduction to Forex trading.
- The Little Book of Currency Trading: How to Make Big Profits in the World of Forex, by Kathy Lien, is another concise introduction that has stood the test of time.
All three are available on Amazon. Rosenberg's book, unfortunately, is pricey, but it's widely available in public libraries. "Trading in the Zone: Master the Market with Confidence, Discipline, and a Winning Attitude," by Mark Douglas is another good book that's available on Amazon, and, again, somewhat pricey, although the Kindle edition is not.
Use the information gained from your reading to plan your trades before plunging in. The more you change your plan, the more you end up in trouble, and the less likely that elusive forex profit will end up in your pocket.
Diversify and Limit Your Risks
Two strategies that belong in every trader's arsenal:
- Diversification: Traders who execute many small trades, particularly in different markets where the correlation between markets is low, have a better chance of making a profit. Putting all your money into one big trade is always a bad idea.
- Familiarize yourself with ways of guaranteeing a profit on an already profitable order, such as a trailing stop, and of limiting losses using stop and limit orders. These strategies and more are covered in the recommended books. Novice traders often make the mistake of concentrating on how to win; it's even more important to understand how to limit your losses.
Forex traders, particularly beginners, are prone to getting nervous if a trade does not go their way immediately, or if the trade goes into a little profit they get itchy to pull the plug and walk away with a small profit that could have been a significant profit with little downside risk using appropriate risk reduction strategies.
In On Any Given Sunday, Al Pacino reminds us that "football is a game of inches." That's a winning attitude in the Forex market as well. Remember that you are going to win some trades and lose with others. As a beginning trader you might simply try to measure a bit more money gained than lost after every 30 trades or so. This incremental measure will help you strive for consistency in trading, something very few beginning traders are able to accomplish.