This week’s question comes from Manny, who asks:
Hi Justin, why do you think so many Forex traders fail to make money consistently?
Trading Forex successfully is one of the most difficult endeavors you will ever pursue. If you’ve been trading for a minimum of a few months, you’ll know I’m not exaggerating.
Confounding, isn’t it? That a task which involves either buying or selling can be this hard.
Chances are though, if you’re reading this, you know it isn’t just about buying and selling. There are a plethora of other factors that affect whether or not you’re profitable.
I’ve discussed many of those factors on this site. Everything from risk-to-reward ratios, to chart patterns, to emotional discipline.
However, I’d like to take a different approach today. Instead of listing what you should do, I want to share the top three reasons I believe most Forex traders fail.
By the time you finish reading, you’ll know why starting with indicators may not be the best approach. I’ll also share a few strategies for developing patience, and discuss a little-known reason many traders fail to achieve consistent profits.
The root of many traders’ failures is twofold. Not only are most individuals lured into Forex with the promise of quick and easy money, but they are also misguided in the methods required to achieve said money.
I discuss the attraction to money later in this lesson, so for now let’s focus on what it takes to make money as a Forex trader.
More specifically, I want to share what isn’t necessary.
Before I do though, I want to make it clear that every individual needs to find his or her own path. There is no right or wrong style or method of trading, and the “best” strategy is always the one that works best for you.
With that said, most indicators are a complete waste of time. In my opinion, they’re a distraction from what’s important—the price action on your charts.
You see, every indicator lags. It’s like trying to drive a car while looking only in the rearview mirror.
Price action, on the other hand, is what’s happening now. It’s the movement you see occurring each and every day.
And if you combine the study of that movement with end-of-day trading using New York close charts, you’ll find that navigating the Forex market isn’t all that difficult.
Take it one step further by learning how to draw key levels and chart patterns like channels and wedges and you’ll be unstoppable.
It isn’t a guaranteed path to success, nor is it quick and painless. You’ll still need to put in the time and effort, but it is a far superior method than staring at a bunch of lagging indicators all day.
Now, I’m not saying you can’t be profitable using indicators. I know there are traders out there who have found success using indicator-based systems. Heck, even I use the 10 and 20 exponential moving averages (although probably not in the ways you’d expect).
But here’s the deal…
Even if you’re convinced that indicators such as the MACD or RSI are the best way forward, learning how to read and trade price action can only help.
When was the last time you saw someone using an indicator-based system without any support or resistance levels of any kind?
I’ve never seen it, and the mere act of identifying support and resistance levels is part of the study of price action.
So no matter how you evolve as a Forex trader, learning the ins and outs of price action is beneficial.
I always recommend that traders start with price action first. Only once you fully understand support and resistance and various chart and candlestick patterns should you begin adding an indicator or two.
That’s the opposite of what most new traders do. Instead, they start with five conflicting indicators, continually swapping them out and failing to understand why after two years they continue to struggle.
The solution is to wipe your charts clean. Study the natural ebb and flow of the market first, and then add an indicator—but only if it complements your new approach.
If it doesn’t, leave it off your charts. The more indicators you add, the less price action you’re able to see.
Although there is no single best way to trade, I’ve seen far more traders achieve success by removing indicators than adding them. Keep this in mind as you search for your best approach.
Let’s move outside the realm of trading for a moment. Instead of thinking about why traders fail, let’s focus on what most humans lack and see if we can’t find a correlation.
I’m guessing you know where I’m going with this. The very name of the subheading above is a massive clue.
Yes, we’re talking about patience, or a lack thereof.
You see, most people lack patience. For those who commute to work and are forced to sit in rush hour traffic, you know this all too well.
Look around at how many drivers nearly rear-end the car in front of them just to get a few feet closer to home. And yet, their turn toward home is always the same and driving closer to the car in front of them never speeds up the process.
Trading is much the same. You develop a list of requirements for opening a trade, so you know what you’re looking for, yet you open positions with little regard to your own criteria.
Why do you do it?
Just like the driver sitting in rush hour traffic, it’s a lack of patience that draws you out and urges you to take the trade even when everything inside of you says to wait.
Trading isn’t what will make you profitable, it’s the waiting!
The time you spend waiting for that A+ setup is what sets you apart from the rest. How many people have the patience to wait days or even weeks before shorting the EURUSD?
Not many. Yet that’s what it often takes to get the most favorable entry.
I’d bet that more than 90% of the global population lacks patience. Again, just have a look around the next time you’re stuck in traffic or waiting in a line.
At the same time, more than 90% of Forex traders lose money consistently.
Is that a mere coincidence or something more?
In my opinion, it’s most certainly something more. Of course, patience isn’t the only factor when it comes to successful trading, but it is the one that can make or break your trading career.
So how do you develop patience?
A few basic yet effective techniques come to mind…
Trading Forex is a process. The journey never ends, even once you achieve consistent profits.
You don’t wake up and say, okay, I need to know everything there is to know about Forex trading by July 20th.
It just doesn’t work that way.
Rather, it takes most individuals years, not weeks or months, to become successful in this industry.
Trading is a career choice just as others choose the medical or law professions. Both of those paths require years of education and experience before the individual can be considered successful at their chosen career.
Why should trading Forex be any different?
The truth is, it isn’t. It’s a long journey that requires discipline, consistency, passion and a hefty dose of perseverance.
For those who embrace the journey and understand the effort and time required, the results are well worth the wait.
If more than 90% of the population lack patience and over 90% of Forex traders fail, what would happen if you developed patience?
Well, for starters you’d be in the five to ten percent of people with patience. That can’t be a bad thing, right?
But what effect would it have on your trading?
While this question is more difficult to answer, I can all but guarantee that it’d put you much closer to the five to ten percent of successful Forex traders.
It may even put you right in the middle of the pack. That’s how confident I am that the single biggest personality trait you’re missing is patience.
While knowing this won’t directly help you develop patience, it will emphasize how important this trait truly is. Otherwise, why spend any time or effort on developing patience as a trader?
Everything you do as a trader that helps to separate you from the 90% that lose money is part of your trading edge.
At the top of that list is patience.
When the market opens each Monday, do you have a plan?
I hope for your sake that you do because I can assure you that the market won’t take it easy on you if you don’t.
The only way to utilize patience as part of your trading edge is to plan your trades ahead of time.
They may not all work out and many won’t even materialize, but that’s okay. Having a plan is enough, regardless of how the market decides to behave that week.
I’ve found that weekends offer the best time to plan for the week ahead. Even if you’re busy most weekends, I bet you can carve out an hour or two to do some planning for the upcoming week.
As for what information you should capture, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. It depends on your style and preferences.
Personally, I keep notes inside of the same online trading journal I provide to new Daily Price Action members.
You can be as detailed or brief as you like. However, I would recommend that you keep track of the currency pair, any key levels of interest as well as any potential opportunities that may develop.
Above all, keep it simple. Track only what you need and keep any pending opportunities to a minimum. Remember, the quality is more important than the quantity.
I cringe every time I receive an email that asks how much someone can make with a $1,000 account.
Why should that even matter? It’s far more important to learn the process of good trading than it is to try and make money. In fact, that’s the only way it works.
Those who attempt to profit or even focus on making money before understanding the process are destined to struggle—and perhaps even fail.
As I’ve mentioned before, focus on the process of good trading and the money will follow.
For those who are chasing quick money, the Forex market is the quickest way to the poorhouse.
On the other hand, for those who understand and accept the process and are willing to put in the time, the Forex market can eventually be a stream of income.
This is one of my favorite topics to discuss. It gets into the one factor that you cannot control, yet can prevent you from becoming a successful Forex trader.
What is that one thing?
Passion! That burning desire that pushes you ahead after each blown account and refuses to go away regardless of how many times you’ve fallen down.
I’m talking about a love for all things Forex. It’s the one thing I cannot teach. You either have it or you don’t.
There aren’t many guarantees in this business. We sit down at our computers every day knowing that the best we can do is stack the odds in our favor.
However, there is one guarantee that’s impossible to escape…
If you don’t absolutely love trading, you won’t succeed.
I’ve been in this industry since 2002 and have never met a successful trader who isn’t obsessed with the markets—the trading itself, not the money.
For those who have read the Market Wizards books by Jack Schwager, you know this to be true.
Schwager conducted more than 40 interviews over the years, and not one person mentioned a love for money. While each of them have made millions or even billions of dollars, it isn’t what attracted them to trading, nor did it fuel their desires.
Every one of the traders in those books was fueled by a childlike fascination with the markets. The money they made—and continue to make—was the byproduct of their passion for trading.
I can’t stress this point enough. I get hundreds of emails each week from hopeful traders, and unfortunately one of the leading questions is, how much money can I make with a $1,000 account?
You can insert any number there. What’s significant about this question is that these individuals are focused on the wrong thing.
Questions like that tell me one thing—the person asking it is more in love with the money than they are with trading and markets.
I’m not saying you can’t want more money and still succeed. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a better life for you or your family.
However, if you’re more interested in the cash, fancy clothes and exotic cars, you may be in the wrong business.
This may come as a surprise, but I believe trading is one of the worst ways to make money in this world. If it were such a great way to get rich there would be a lot more successful retail traders out there.
It’s a bit of a conundrum. Those who only want to get rich get poorer, and those who aren’t focused on making money earn the most.
Focus on the process of good trading and the money will follow. That is the best advice I can give to any aspiring trader.
There’s no single answer for why most Forex retail traders fail. It’s a combination of factors that affect each trader differently.
However, the three topics above are at the top of my list. Some are more obvious than others, but each plays a critical role in the road to successful Forex trading.
Regardless of whether you decide to use indicators or not, an understanding of price action trading can only help. After all, it’s the movement of the market that causes indicators to do what they do.
If I were forced to give my number one reason most traders fail, I’d have to say a lack of patience. It’s the one thing most people struggle with, so it makes sense that it would also cause traders to struggle.
A passion for trading is a must if you want to succeed. It’s the one thing I can’t teach, and it’s also the one thing that can keep you from making money.
And make no mistake, a desire to make more money will not suffice. In fact, a desire for money without an overwhelming passion for trading will only lead to more blown trading accounts.
I’d love for this new weekly Q&A to be successful and provide an invaluable repository of answers to common Forex questions.
To do that, I need your help.
Here’s what you can do to get involved and have your question answered in next week’s post: