Fay Benjamin has been a “serious” trader for seven years. Her transition from dabbler to committed investor was an effortless road thanks to a supportive partner who recognized the signs and backed her ability. Her biggest lesson has been learning to trust not only her system but herself.
A strong advocate of a theory put forward by US best-selling author and psychologist Dr Van K Tharp that personality is a key factor in a trader’s kitbag, Benjamin chuckles as she recalls the number of times she has grimaced in hindsight at her poor decision making.
“Someone once said, trading is simple it’s just not easy. That probably nails it,” she declares.
From experience Benjamin has come to believe that “trading isn’t nearly as exciting and sexy as people think, it’s just hard work”. The hard work aspect, she says, is linked to the human psyche “and the many ways we get stuck making decisions”.
One incident still causes her to squirm.
It was during her apprenticeship, before she started trading CFDs. She was using an internet share broker and ‘stops’ needed to be manually executed.
“I didn’t have the discipline to do that so I’d let things run through thinking, maybe it will get better,” she says admitting that finally she got to the stage where she could not keep taking the losses.
Referring to it as “a memorable day” she tells of the relief that came from switching to AOT Online and a platform that enabled contingent sell orders and stops that were automatically activated. “That way I didn’t have to baby-sit trades and ‘stop’ decisions were made for me,” she laughs.
In her previous incarnation Benjamin was a project manager in the IT industry. She began working the market as a small time ‘buy and hold’ investor.
Confessing that initially she was probably more a “buy and hope” investor she took the opportunity during extended leave from her work to do some training courses.
She started to show some promise and encouraged by an accommodating partner who offered to support her while she continued to learn, she dived in the deep end.
Finding the right system, she says, has been paramount in her success. “When I first started learning all this I was exposed to lots of different ways of entering and exiting trades. Then I began reading about people who would take a trade when their systems gave them a signal.
“I thought, that sounds really good,” she says. “So I pursued that side of things because it sounded like me.”
Benjamin, a discretionary systems technical trader who trades CFDs, generally in the Top 300, is a great believer in Van Tharp’s notion that you need to find a trading system that fits your personality.
Benjamin prefers to trade during the last hour of the day, does not jump in and out of the market and believes in keeping things simple and uncluttered; therefore mostly trades with price and volume and very few indicators on charts.
Through trial and error she now has three systems she trades, all of which suit her personality and the times she prefers to trade. The trap she says is the desire to keep searching for the “killer system”. “The internet abounds with trading systems that you can buy for $50 and they’re almost always a waste of time because it’s not the trading system it’s what you do with it,” she exclaims.
Around three years ago Benjamin fell into the very trap she now warns others about. “I’d had a really great six months, the market was doing brilliantly, I was on a roll and then suddenly I decided that I wanted to learn another methodology,” she says. “I think I got bored because it was all becoming too easy. So ridiculously I dropped what had been really successful to go and play with this other new, bright shiny thing.”
A periodic review of her trading performances jolted her sharply back to reality.
Benjamin has become aware that she is a bit of an “experience junkie” and enjoys trying new things and has learnt not to allow her love of experimentation get in the way of her trading.
Maintaining that personal growth and trading go hand in hand she says she now recognizes when she is getting to a point where she is starting to lose interest and knows that it is time to take a holiday. “To an extent boredom does kick in but it’s more about losing the edge and the fascination. Going away is always the answer,” she says.
Benjamin’s take on the key attribute of a good trader is the right personality mix, “patience, discipline and the ability to stgelop and stay with the methodology”.
“It probably all sounds pretty boring but ultimately it should be because it’s a process you repeat over and over.
“You need to take the emotion out of it and just do the process because at the end of the day that’s what gets you over the line; having a system that’s profitable and applying it.”