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7 Tips On How To Choose A Good Forex Trading System
Submitted by Tradervox on Tue, 19/04/2011 - 17:55
You know, one of the most important things to think about, when starting to learn forex trading, is how to choose a good forex system.
Why is this so?
Well it's because we want to trade a system that's worth the time and effort. Each forex system is different in several important ways (as you'll find out), so you want to make sure that it is one that you want to trade, before investing time and money (and effort!) into learning the system.
We ultimately want to find and trade a forex system that's profitable enough for us (and this is different for everybody!), that has an acceptable drawdown (some have very decent drawdowns - this is vital for most of us), and that actually fits into our daily routine (that is, we can actaully trade and not be stressed!)
When any of these 3 factors are not there, we find ourselves not able to start or continue trading the system.
In the meantime, we could be making money trading forex if we did have a suitable system!
So what we must do, is choose a forex trading system based on some important principles to ensure we actually benefit from trading, rather than causing frustration and lost time.
By the time you finish this article, you'll know how to choose a forex system that you can trade, and that's sure worth putting in the time to learn!
When looking at a forex system, consider closely:
1. The profitability of the system, shown as either pips per month, or dollar amounts based on a certain float size.
Profits are most commonly quoted in pips per month. The reason why this method is popular, is because it is one way of comparing between systems, though people may be trading different face values.
What you have to be careful of when looking at the pip profits per month however, is that the face value that's traded with any given float will depend on the average risk per trade, which in turn depends on the average stop loss distance for that system, if a fixed risk model is used. And this determines the dollar profits that will result from any float.
Say you want to trade with a 2% fixed risk model. If the average risk per trade in the first system is say 30 pips, and is 60 pips in a second system, then the average face value would be twice the size in the first system for any given float. If both systems produce the same average pip profit per trade, say 100 pips, the first system will, in terms of dollar amounts, produce the higher profit.
2. The maximum historical drawdown of the system.
This may be expressed as pips, or as a percentage of the cash float used when testing the system performance. For example, if the maximum historical drawdown was $2000 based on a $10 000 cash float, then the drawdown is 20% (as a percentage of cash float).
The maximum historical drawdown of a system is the largest decrease in equity that has occurred in the past during backtesting or trading of the system. You can use the drawdown to compare between systems, but you can also use the drawdown to figure out the amount of funds you'd need to start trading the system.
In the example above, you'd need at least $12 000 in the beginning in case a drawdown occurs when you first start trading, not years down the track.
3. The "profit-loss" ratio of the system.
This is the average size of winning compared to losing trades. A high ratio here signifies a degree or robustness in the system, but this figure should always be looked at together with the "win-loss" ratio of the system, which is the percentage of winning trades compared to losing trades.
4. A high win-loss ratio for a forex trading system is a bonus in that the system may be easier psychologically to trade.
Ultimately though, it's the combination of both that counts. That is, if the "profit-loss" ratio multiplied by the "win-loss" ratio is greater than 1, then the system is profitable. Ideally you'd want this ratio to be 2 or 3 or more to ensure that the system is significantly profitable, not borderline.
5. The consistency of the system.
If you can find a highly profitable system that has a reasonable drawdown, and is very consistent, then this is ideal. There's a sweet spot for everybody. You may accept a slightly higher drawdown and slightly less consistenty, if the profitability was significantly higher, while others may prefer a different combination of the above. Look at the monthly, quarterly and yearly results to best tell this.
6. The amount of time it takes to trade the system per day.
Some systems take only 15 minutes four times day, while others need a few hours. Some forex trading systems on the other hand trade only at certain known times, such as when major economic announcements occur. So you know in advance when you actually need to be at the computer. This ultimately depends on how much time you have.
7. Is the forex trading system systematic, discretionary, or part-discretionary?
Now this is where you may have a preference depending on your past experience as a trader. Some traders prefer mostly or 100% mechanical systems where there's not much room for discretion. The advantage of mechanical systems is that the analysis may be simpler, and there's less need to learn discretionary skills that come from real-time paper and live trading. However many systems that are very profitable can't be made into completely mechanical systems. Finding the type that suits you is important here. Some people who are used to trading 100% mechanical stock or CFD systems find they need some adjustment time to get used to these kinds of forex systems!
So there you have it.
The above points should be kept in mind when checking out various forex trading strategies and deciding which one is worth learning.
If you know what you're looking for, you'll save time and effort later on as you would have chosen a system that was worth learning and trading! If you're inexperienced at assessing systems, keep practising, and you'll soon get an idea of the actual returns and drawdowns that currency trading systems are capable of (without the hype).
Author: Mark Hamburg