Why Break the Trading Rules?

By: Stuart Mcphee
There are a few trading rules that have stood the test of time and enable traders to trade profitably, yet a lot of people fail to follow them. The rules are no secret to anyone as you will find them in many trading books and other materials. The rules like ‘cut your losses’ and ‘follow the trend’ have worked for hundreds of years yet most people ignore them! Money is something that affects people’s emotions and your natural instincts with money will often encourage you to break some of the time tested risk management rules, for example ‘cutting your losses’ and ‘keeping your trades small’. Most traders focus on making money and realising a loss goes against the aim of making money. Similarly, when you have a position that is performing strongly, a small part of you wants to sell that position to realise the profit. This is perfectly natural. Letting your profits run and not selling too early is also an important time tested rule, however because of the focus on money, some people can be very quick to sell shares when in a profitable situation.

If you find it difficult to accept an initial small percentage loss in a trade, what makes you think it is going to be easier later on to sell the shares when the position has lost 30% or more? Yet, when you consider the influence of trends in the market and how important it is that you manage risk, the best time to sell the shares is when you are faced with only a small loss.

Thoughts often appear about holding on to shares that are falling in value because one day in the future, they will increase in value and return to the price that you purchased them at. This is unfortunately a myth that many people have about shares in the market. Some people believe that shares will always return to previous values, presenting them an opportunity to sell them at break even. There is a chance that the share price will never return to the price you bought them at.

Furthermore, whilst you may have absolute confidence that a share price will return to levels that you purchased them at, consider if it is worth holding on to them and waiting for that time to come, if it does. Would it not be better to sell those shares and move on by committing your trading capital into a company whose share price is clearly trending up at the present time? Often people will think about how they will feel if they sell shares and in 12 months time, the share price returns to where they purchased them. There is a feeling of, ‘I should have just held on to them’. Meanwhile however, over that 12 month period whilst you may have been waiting for the share price to returnComputer Technology Articles, your trading capital was elsewhere obtaining solid returns for you. All of these emotions and others can paralyse you and force you into not making a decision. Remember the old adage that says that taking no action is an action. Successful trading is all about sound decision making and you need to ensure that some of these emotional impulses do not freeze you or cloud your judgement.

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