The unprofessional summer trader

BellaGeneral Comments14 Comments

This is the time when all the tweets and blogs start about hitting the links, or grabbing drinks early, or heading for the beach.  If you have ever traded prop at a big firm you will see seats empty on Friday after 1pm.  There will be many who do not come back from lunch on a Thursday.  Missed Mondays and long weekends are a given.  I just do not get this.

When I first started trading we considered it a privilege to be connected to the inside market.   Well it is.   It was not that long ago when the banks had a monopoly on connectedness to the inside market.  Never forget that.  Trading is a privilege.

In this world of over-stimulation and immediate feedback do young traders expect too much action all-the-time from the market?  If you have to sit and just watch stocks trade from 11am to the close without a trade is that so horrible?  You are not laying concrete on an overheated highway.  You are sitting in a comfortable chair, A/C blasting, surrounded by friends, with access to the internet and music and TV.  Part of trading is waiting, just being on your desk, ready to pounce on an unexpected opportunity.

If you do not have a vacation planned then sit in your seat and focus.  Trading does not mean always having positions. A great deal of trading is gathering data so that you can gain an edge for a future trade.  That might be intraday, or the next session or next week.  But if you not at your seat because you deemed a session too uninteresting for your full focus then you are not preparing yourself for that next great trading opportunity.  This is not you at your best as a trader.

Once you accept that you can conclude a day not worth your full attention you become a lesser trader.  If you step onto a trading floor you are there to work.  All day.  With all your focus.  Anything less is unprofessional.


Mike Bellafiore

Author, One Good Trade

14 Comments on “The unprofessional summer trader”

  1. Great stuff!  Very easy to come up with excuses to leave early and/or not showing up in the summer but if you treat trading as a business then that should never happen.  Think about owning a storefront, when you don’t show up or leave early you are still incurring expenses and could be losing sales.  That’s why 2/3s of new businesses fail and 90% of traders fail.

  2. waited tables and bartended for many years while in college and afterwards.  My parents did to while in college and raising me as a kid.  So I understand what you are saying Bella…and am totally thankful to be involved w/ the markets everyday.  Even if its sitting and waiting.  The gather of data is so stimulating and being in the moment.

  3. Great post Bella, doesn’t always have to be fun or busy! I’m reminded of Market Wizard Tom Baldwin who said he developed his opinion by standing in the pit all day. The golf course might beckon you to cut out early, but what do you really want to be good at?  If it’s trading, then your eyes best be on the tape when the market’s open.  Thanks for the motivation!

  4. I agree for the most part, though we all have to be aware of our action bias. If we are sitting in our seats during a slow, choppy market, we are going to want to trade and think there is opportunity when maybe there is not. My worst days are not when I’m wrong about market direction, but when I’m looking for a range expansion in either direction and it just doesn’t happen. Highly emotional chop is my nemesis (as it is for most active traders I imagine). Sometimes when it’s that environment, the best thing you can do is to take yourself away from being in that situation and wait for a resolution move so you can trade the aftermath.

  5. This past friday afternoon you could hear the tumbleweeds scritching down the street, and I was pretty much talking to myself in John Lee’s trading room, when what do you know but PNSN comes along and offers me a great setup and I make my most profitable trade of the day on an already positive day. In my experience those quiet moments often offer a very good play as the die hard traders tend to pile in the same things as it might be the only play going. Patience and diligence pays.

  6. I was actually a bit shock reading this post. I always imagined traders in a big firm are glued to the screen except for lunch breaks. I’ll pretend I didn’t read this. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Thanks for the motivation Bella! Great motivational piece. You never know when you’re going to bag an elephant or a mouse. But if you slack off, no food your you!

  8. I agree totally.  For instance, SINA has been on my radar for the past few days.  If I were piddling around on the golf course, I would have missed the 10+ point chop from the breakdown at 106.90!  This was an easy setup that worked out very well.  Point is, even if the broader markets are like watching paint dry, there is always some sort of action somewhere…

  9. The problem being brought up here is the Value of a Discretionary Trader.  When we are not at our desk we have no value as a discretionary trader. 
    If we are not motivated to stay at our desk then we might as well code our ideas like Michael Bigger and let algos do our dirty work.  I truly do believe that I have value as a discretionary trader and there is an edge in the market that only I can execute.  If not, why am I a discretionary trader in the first place?

  10. I would gladly take over an empty spot and trade if someone esle isn’t interested.

  11. This article is about the pitfalls of not giving complete focus to your work. Ironically, in your sentence “But if you not at your seat because you deemed a session too uninteresting for your full focus…”, you lost focus. It should read “But if you ARE not at your seat…”

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