Fastest Path to Elite Trader: Patience & Progress

BellaBella Daily Update

You are trading and you are not yet an elite trader.  You want to be.  You think you can be.  It would literally change your life if you could be.

Let me share a secret that is vital to the work that we do.  As someone who runs a proprietary trading business in NYC, we are in the business of hiring new traders and helping them develop into a consistently profitable trader and then elite trader.  One of the hardest things we do is to keep our young traders patient.  To keep them focused on the work that really matters.  The work that will help them one day become as good as they can be.

This is very difficult.  These traders see the elite traders at our firm put up 100k, 500k, and sometimes 1m days.  They know these traders.  They see these traders.  These traders sat in the very seat that they do. And, let’s be honest, if you have an ounce of competitiveness in you, don’t you have to say to yourself, “I can be like them!” Well…. I know they do because they say as much to me.

And they should think like that.  They can be them.  They can become elite.  Every year new traders step forward at our firm to become the next elite traders.

But wanting to become elite.  Recognizing how that would change your life.  Walking the same floor that other elite traders do.  That does not make you elite.  That just gives you the opportunity to become elite.

Frankly, we hire very ambitious traders.  We tell our traders we are not here to make 100k.  We are here to develop 7-figure-a-year traders (and now beyond).  If I was being fair, some of those new traders would tell you we can get quite intense about our expectations.  But being ambitious will not make you an elite trader.  In fact, this is one of the hardest things as coaches and mentors we have to counsel against with our young blood.

And I think of one trader with whom I currently work with daily.  When he first went live his Daily Report Card (DRC), often started with his disappointment and frustration.  Disappointment that he had not made more money.  Frustration that his PnL was not higher.

I would encourage him to think about how he got better during the trading session.  To think about how he could be better the next trading session.

The next DRC started much the same.  The one after also the same.  I again encouraged the trader to focus on progress.  Again, the next few DRCs started with his frustration and disappointment.  Again, I encouraged the trader to focus on how he got better and could get better.  We are still working on this.

And there are two traders putting up their best month of their careers presently.  They have now completely broken through in their trading careers.  But I remember they too expressed disappointment and frustration at their start.  It was painful to read their progress reports because their pain jumped off the page.  Settling them down and keeping them focused was like taming a stubborn horse.  They were born to run and succeed.  Constant messages from multiple sources were communicated about just getting better.  They kept working.

I remember when the elite traders at our firm now were elated to make 30k in a month.  They get working to get better.  They kept improving.  Over time and with deliberate work and targeted ideas to improve they added a few zeroes to their PnL.

I am not about to share the least sexy example of trading progress amateur traders would imagine.  It is a roaring example of trading success.  When I see something like it, we know a trader is starting to get it and improve.  Are you ready?  Here is analysis from a weekly review from a developing trader on our desk:

Almost all of the substantive PnL gains come from the ideas that I’ve planned out and thought through well before the trade actually sets up.

The trader is starting to understand what he does best.  The trader is starting to develop his niche.  The trader has data of his trading that demonstrates edge.  Heck the traders knows to look for his edge from his trading statistics.  Okay we are making some progress here.  Now we will focus on trading just these setups and seeing how he does.  But the trader is in a much better place.

And we do this daily and weekly and monthly.  And a strong trading base is formed.  And this improvement compounds from a solid foundation.

And we just keep pushing.  We just keep working to get better.  And what can the result of that be?  The result can be unstoppable progress towards elite trader.

Important disclosures

Mike Bellafiore is the Co-Founder of SMB Capital, a proprietary trading desk, and SMB Training, which provides trading education in stocks, options, and futures. Bella is the author of One Good Trade and The PlayBook. He welcomes your trading questions at [email protected].