Category Archives: Trader Interview

Bill Buchanan – Trader Interview

Q. What’s your name? Bill Buchanan Q. What is you website address? http://www.rightedgesystems.com Q. Can you give us a little bit of background about how you got involved in Trading and what led you to become such an expert? I began trading stocks in 1998.  Things were simpler back then, you placed an order, the stock went to the moon, you sold for a profit.  Obviously, this “strategy” didn’t hold up very well during the subsequent bust.  Having an analytical and programming background, I took to system trading very quickly. I’m not sure I could call myself, or anyone, an expert.  It is a constant evolution of both technology and psychology.  The game constantly changes.  Ones risk tolerance and objectives evolve too.  I find myself paying a lot more attention to risk than when I initially started down this path. Q. How long did it take to you to become really become proficient at Trading? If by proficient, you mean profitable, years.  The main problem was that of self discovery and understand what the pitfalls of trading systems were.  It was very easy for me to fool myself by means of ignoring issues like data problems, system shortcomings, execution feasibility and the host of other things that a backtest just can’t describe.  Unfortunately, I had to learn this the hard way.  That means, I had to lose money. Q. What markets do you trade? Is there any reason for choosing them? U.S. equities.  Mostly ease of access and liquidity. Q. Would you view yourself as a fundamental or a technical trader? If both what percent to give to each? I’m evolving a little here.  I was purely technical.  Over the last 2 years, I’ve been introducing light fundamentals into the equation.  This is mainly used as a screening parameter or as a means of culling a watchlist. Q. Are you more a systematic trader or discretionary trader? Mostly systematic.  RightEdge must generate a signal for me to even entertain the idea of trading.  However, based on risk parameters that I define, I may pass up the trade if I feel I’m too heavy.  A good example of this is financials.  My systems are still generating trades, but I’m well exposed at this point and will decline a trade in that sector for the time being. Q. Is there a certain instrument that you like trading? I.e. options, shares, warrants, CFD’s, futures, forex? I am mostly an options trader.  Although I will dabble in stocks from time to time.  The reason why I like options is that I can craft a position that’s in tune with my outlook.  For example, given the recent volatility, I’m much more likely to open a spread position to cap my risk (and decrease my reward).  In less volatile markets, I may be more inclined to accept more risk. Q. Are there any specific strategies that you trade? Can you provide any details of them? I’m a band violation / mean reversion trader.  I also use other technical indicators to confirm the strength or weakness of the violation. Q. Do you or your systems trade every single day? No.  I may get several signals in a day and run dry for a several days. Q. How do you react to the winning and losing streaks? I usually have my risk and reward well defined from the beginning.  The risk I take is acceptable to me upon initiation, so I just let things run their course.  I have good days, weeks, months and bad ones.  Staying detached is always a challenge, but one I’ve spent a lot of time working over the years.  I feel that I’m better than most at this point. Q. What is the most important part of that discipline? What is your golden rule? SWAN.  This is an acronym I stole from a local financial planner.  It stands for “Sleep Well At Night”.  If a position has me nervous, I’m out.  No matter how good or bad the P/L is, sleeping well at night is my golden rule for anything. Q. What charting systems do you use? RightEdge.  Naturally, I’m biased, but being a system trader for so many years, charts were something we spent a lot of time on.  If I couldn’t use them for real trading, they weren’t going to work for our customers. Q. What news/broker services do you use? I don’t trade the news at all. Q. What portfolio management / trade tracking software do you use? Interactive Brokers provides me with sufficient portfolio management.  Risk analysis for live trades is done with Excel on an as needed basis.  Risk analysis for backtesting strategies is done with RightEdge. Q. What kind of risk do you take on a position? When if ever would you increase this risk? Each position is less than 2% of my overall account value.  In a band violation situation, I may increase the position size up to 2 times.  This is rare and is usually only done on indexes or something that has a very low probability of failure.  Couple this with the fact that it’s always a small percentage of my account value, it allows me not to violate the SWAN rule. Q. Do you use stop losses and things like that? No, options really serve as a stop loss.  If I trade a spread, max risk/reward is defined.  I find stop losses severely degrade system performance. Q. How do you handle your position sizing for each trade? Percentage of overall account value. Q. What do you find so good about Trading and the markets? It’s a thinking man’s game.  It forces a lot of discipline, thinking, analyzing and self discovery. Q. Do you remember your very first major trade/win? Yes.  UBID – 1998.  Bought at 40 3/4 (remember when they didn’t quote pennies?), sold at 180 in just a few days. Q. Can you recall your worst trading day? How did you deal with it? It was sometime in 2002.  I had put my first heavily curve fitted trading system into production after a single night of backtesting.  How foolish.  I dealt with it by learning my lesson and never making that mistake again.  The hardest part in this isn’t losing the money, it’s usually letting your spouse know that you were an idiot. Q. What do you consider are the characteristics of a successful trader? Persistence and perseverance. Q. If you had one secret to give about Trading, what would it be? 3 things.  Paper trade, paper trade and paper trade again.  There are so many strategies that backtest well and I would say 1% of them actually trade well.  Also, it’s easy to get confused by the instruments that you’re trading.  I run into so many folks who get into a position, the position goes against them and now they want to understand why and how to get out.  This is precisely the wrong time to understand what you’re trading. I would personally like to thank Bill Buchanan for taking the time to reply and provide some insight into his style of trading. James Ramsay Visit www.otrader.com.au for more interviews and a Free 20 trial of our Stock and Option Portfolio management Software

Dr. Barry Burns – Top Dog Trading Interview

What’s your name? Dr. Barry Burns What is you website address? http://www.TopDogTrading.com Can you give us a little bit of background about how you got involved in Trading and what led you to become such an expert? I was a businessman and owned several small companies over the years. When I decided to make a career change I did a lot of research to find the perfect career for me. It had to be something with enormous income potential. But I also wanted time and travel freedom – to be able to work when I wanted, where I wanted and only when I wanted. Finally, I was pretty burned out on always catering to customers needs. I wanted true independence. When my due diligence was complete, there was only one choice left standing: Trading! My dad was a stock trader for 70 years before he passed away. So I had grown up with it in the household and my dad had taught me some things when I was a kid, but at the time I was more interested in karate and girls. When I realized that trading was the perfect career for me, I started looking into it again and things had changes dramatically since I was a kid living at home. Electronic Trading was just coming on the scene and it was a very exciting time. The average person was more empowered to compete with the big boys. I joined a local trading club and read every book I could get my hands on (over 100 eventually). And when I was ready to make the commitment to become a full-time trader, I called my dad and asked him to mentor me again. He agreed and I moved back in with him for a short time to become his student. After that I put a lot of screen time in, and later found 3 more mentors who were willing to work with me. One of them was a floor trader in Chicago. How long did it take to you to become really become proficient at Trading? I went through years of being successful for a while and then losing again. In fact I found that just as there are cycles in the markets, there were cycles in my own behaviour and my trading method. Learning that cycle helped me be aware of when I was in a down cycle and to stop trading. People focus on trying to control the markets, but that’s impossible. What they really need to do is learn to control themselves. The owner of our trading club said in his experience it takes people at least 4 years to become a professional trader. I’d say that’s about right, although it varies dramatically from person to person. What markets do you trade? Is there any reason for choosing them? I swing trade and day trade. I had started trading stocks simply because that’s what my father did. Now I also trade futures, currencies and options. For years I was afraid of the leverage of these other instruments, but now that I’m better at managing my risk, the leverage allows me to make so much more money. Primarily I swing trade stocks and ETFs and day trade futures and forex. Would you view yourself as a fundamental or a technical trader? If both what percent to give to each? I’m close to 100% technical trader. That’s all I look at. If I hear some good news regarding the fundamentals of a company, I may look at the company, but when I do, I’m looking at the company’s chart. Are you more a systematic trader or discretionary trader? My trading rules are extremely objective. Anyone trading my rules precisely would be trading the same way. However it’s just a fact that people who master any skill or profession incorporate a lot of their experience into their subconscious. It’s natural and unavoidable. It’s like the master saying to the kid “I’ve forgotten more than you’ll ever know.” What the master has “forgotten” is not in his/her conscious mind, but that information is still at work in the subconscious influencing what they do. Are there any specific strategies that you trade? Can you provide any details of them? My strategy is very objective and scientific. I look for 5 market “energies” to align in the same direction and at the same time. The alignment of these energies creates a probability scenario that favors my position. It’s my edge. It’s what puts the odds on my side. Those 5 energies are: 1. Trend (direction) 2. Momentum (trend strength) 3. Cycle (timing highs and lows for entries/exits) 4. Support Resistance (blockage to energy) 5. Fractals (looking at the bigger picture or scale) If you are in a take-profit situation and your system is telling you to exit rather than hold on, how do you bring yourself to exit even if it’s still running in your favour? Most of the time I exit with hard limit orders. They are placed before those levels are reached. I let the market take me out rather than depending on myself to make a split second decision and risk hesitating. How do you react to the winning and losing streaks? Winning and losing streaks are a natural part of trading. They are part of the “cycles” inherent in the market. The key is to have stop losses in place to minimize your draw down. Just as I place a hard stop loss in every trade I execute, I also have stop losses based on a percentage of my account for every day, every week, every month and every quarter. If my daily stop loss is hit, then I stop trading for the rest of that day. If my weekly stop loss is hit, then I stop trading for the rest of that week. If my monthly stop loss is hit, then I stop trading for the rest of that month. Likewise, I have trailing stops that work the same way. If I’m in a trade and I’ve made a lot of money, I’m not going to allow that trade to turn into a loser. I’m going to put in a trailing stop on that trade to make sure I lock in some profits if the market turns against me. So too, I have trailing stops for every day, week, month and quarter. If I’m up a certain amount in a day, and then I start losing money. I have a daily trailing stop that won’t allow me to give back all my profits for the day. If that daily trailing stop gets hit, then I stop trading for the day. The same principle applies for the week, month and quarter. This is one aspect of money management that is critical and I don’t see many traders utilizing it. What is the most important part of that discipline? What is your golden rule? The most important thing is to keep my losses small. Not all my trades are winners. But if I can keep my losses small, then I can keep trading until the big move comes along and I catch it. To do this, you must be very picky on your trades. The #1 sin for most retail traders is over trading. My opinion is that the market is mostly a random walk. But periodically things line up to give you a high probability trade. It’s not a predictable trade as the market is never predictable. But it is a probable trade. For me, this is when the 5 energies align at the same time as mentioned earlier. The key is to be patient and wait only for those times. Let the retailers (amateurs) over trade. We stand on the sidelines and watch them chop up their trading accounts and wait patiently for the real opportunities. There are plenty of good opportunities. My slogan is to take “fewer, better trades.” What kind of risk do you take on a position? When if ever would you increase this risk? On a chart I only risk a bar to a bar and a half on my trades. So my risk is small. And even when my trades don’t succeed, I’m usually not even losing that much because of the way I manage the trade. My rule is to keep my risk on each trade to no more than 2% of my account. How do you handle your position sizing for each trade? My rule is to risk the same dollar amount on each trade, so I adjust the number of shares/contracts to match that dollar amount. What do you consider are the characteristics of a successful trader? Psychology is the most important thing. I think the Mark Douglas books are excellent and should be required reading by everyone. I would highly recommend his books “Trading in the Zone” and “The Disciplined Trader.” If you had one secret to give about Trading, what would it be? There is no one secret, but I have several slogans I live by. I’ve been around trading for so many years now and heard so many things that I forget where they all come from, but they may be from Mark Douglas. My favorite trading sayings are: 1. Successful trading is simply a business of not making mistakes. 2. The consistency you need is in your mind, not in the market. 3. Be like the Jaguar – crouching perfectly still, waiting for the setup to come to you, then pouncing without hesitation or thought. You only need 1 to feed the family. The first two are about learning to discipline yourself, which is the key. Becoming a master trader is not about mastering the markets, it’s about mastering yourself. The last one is about over trading. Any further comments you would like to add? If any of your readers would like to learn more about my trading methodology, I’ve put together a free 5-day video course which they can have by going to: http://www.TopDogTrading.com/free_course.html I would personally like to thank Dr. Barry Burns for taking the time to reply and provide some insight into his style of trading. James Ramsay Visit www.otrader.com.au for more interviews and a Free 20 trial of our Stock and Option Portfolio management Software

Gary Tanashian – Trader Interview

Q. What’s your name? Gary Tanashian Q. What is you website address? http://www.biiwii.com Q. Can you give us a little bit of background about how you got involved in Trading and what led you to become such an expert? Well, I think expert is a strong word because I don’t believe anyone ever masters trading.  I have some things that work for me much more often than not however. As for my background, it is actually in business as the owner of an American manufacturing company where I developed an interest in macroeconomics while niching the company’s successful place in the world.  From macroeconomics, I began looking at market sectors and the stocks therein. I do not trade stocks exclusively on technicals, even though TA is probably my strongest area.  A given sector must be in alignment with my view of the macro landscape.  This helps me be a strong holder when necessary.  I find I would be a weak hand when holding something for purely technical reasons and frankly do not have the time to baby sit positions.  So also you can gather that I am more of a swing trader than flipper. Q. How long did it take to you to become really become proficient at Trading? About four years.  The bear market of 2000-2003 taught me that I was good at market timing; trading those huge bear rallies and declines.  It was like a meat grinder, but it got me attuned to the market’s rhythm. Q. What markets do you trade? Is there any reason for choosing them? At this moment, the gold market.  Specifically the gold miners.  The reason is simple, the gold stocks as represented by the HUI and the EFT GDX, are making what I believe is a historic bottom.  I am not necessarily bearish the US Dollar as measured in competing currencies, so I am not like the gold bugs who can tend to have an us against them mentality. What I see when I look at gold’s ratio to oil, to industrial metals and to human hopes for prosperity is hockey sticks!  Just like what the USD did in October.  The same forces that drove up the Dollar drove up gold’s ratio to gold miners’ cost inputs!  It is the play of year and likely the start of a new bull markets. I am also bullish broad markets for an extended trade, not due to fundamentals but rather due to technicals and historically bad sentiment. Q. Would you view yourself as a fundamental or a technical trader? If both what percent to give to each? Fundamental 40%, technical 60%. Q. Are you more a systematic trader or discretionary trader? Definitely a discretionary trader, using a good dose of instinct. Q. Is there a certain instrument that you like trading? I.e. options, shares, warrants, CFD’s, futures, forex? I mostly trade shares and once in a while a few puts and calls. Q. Are there any specific strategies that you trade? Can you provide any details of them? I am a bottom feeder, pure and simple.  I see an inverted head and shoulders or massive falling wedge with bullish divergence by indicators like MACD and RSI I get very interested.  I will also look for trend by AROON and confirm with Wm%R and when I see several indicators hinting at reversal, see a bullish pattern and some clear support and resistance points all showing a confluence toward a given outcome, I then pay close attention.  But I must be on board with the fundamentals as well. If you are in a take-profit situation and your system is telling you to exit rather than hold on, how do you bring yourself to exit even if it’s still running in your favour? I do not have seller’s regret.  Well, maybe just a little.  But it comes with the territory and emotion should not be part of the equation. Q. Do you or your systems trade every single day? No. Q. How do you react to the winning and losing streaks? Even keel.  Act like I have been here before.  The market can be very humbling so I may as well make an attempt at humility on my own before it is forced down my throat. Q. What is the most important part of that discipline? What is your golden rule? Keep that emotion contained.  I am not the genius I think I am and I am also not as dumb as some trades have made me look.  If you show up with a brittle ego, you are done. Q. What charting systems do you use? I use stockcharts.com.  I really do not watch live charts that come with my trading platform.  Again, I try not to micro-manage positions. Q. What news/broker services do you use? None, except as contrary indicators. Q. What portfolio management / trade tracking software do you use? Fidelity Active Trader Pro Q. What kind of risk do you take on a position? When if ever would you increase this risk? It varies.  Throughout the bull market from 2003 to 2007 I was pretty pleased with the fact that I managed risk at ALL times by generally keeping a 50% plus cash position and still doubled the bull market’s performance consistently over that period. As a bottom feeder, I will increase risk at a time like now for instance, when the crowd is frightened.  Of course the opposite holds true as well and when the herd gets over confident, I decrease risk. Q. Do you use stop losses and things like that? Very rarely. Q. How do you handle your position sizing for each trade? It varies.  I generally have many positions and each position is weighed against the overall portfolio. What was your best trading day/week/month? What was going through your head? I am sorry, I cannot recall to that level of specificity.  But I will tell you what was going through my head; I just KNEW I was a genius, so I sold a bunch of stuff before the market taught me it wasn’t true. Q. What do you find so good about Trading and the markets? It allows me to match up against a massive, emotional and sometimes very predictable collection of other human beings.  It allows me to practice something that comes pretty natural for me, a contrarian outlook. Q. Do you remember your very first major trade/win? No. Q. Can you recall your worst trading day? How did you deal with it? Yes, I was on my way to get a root canal.  I checked the market in the waiting room on my Treo phone.  They called me in and I told them the procedure would be a welcome change from the day I was having. Q. What do you consider are the characteristics of a successful trader? 1) Keep emotion out of it. 2) Keep emotion out of it. 3) Keep emotion out of it. Q. If you had one secret to give about Trading, what would it be? Keep emotion out of it. Q. Any further comments you would like to add? Thank you for the opportunity to give one trader’s view.  I realize there is a lot of sharp people out there with good systems that work more often than not.  My thing is basically just a good b/s detector, a firm view on sector fundamentals and charts.  I am actually quite simple as a trader compared to some folks who have really gotten this down to a science. I would personally like to thank Gary for taking the time to reply and provide some insight into his style of trading. James Ramsay Visit www.otrader.com.au for more interviews and a Free 20 trial of our Stock and Option Portfolio management Software