labels: investment - general
Trade to winnews
09 October 2006

What if we were to trade with the assumption that it was to be the last trade of our lives? The trade that we would be remembered for? By Vijay Bhambwani*

Wall street and by extension all streets in life are dotted with clichés and quotations. One of the more common ones is, "winners don't do different things; they do the same things differently". Come to think of it, the thought has a very deep meaning to it.

Circa 1988, yours truly was a gawky trader on the BSE, finding my feet, learning to trade and seeking to master some "hidden" strategy that would make me rich beyond the frontiers of avarice. I was backed by my father's money and I thought I was (a) invincible and (b) I could fly high.

The markets proved me wrong invariably and barring sometimes when I was lucky, hardly any trading profits accrued. Even if I did make some money, it promptly vanished in the next few trades. Obviously, something was not right somewhere. I tried to seek better-informed market gossip providers, more advanced technical analysts and investment "gurus" who could salvage my trading blueprint.

Reading an article by Arnold Schwarzenegger (in those days just a famous body builder and a rising Hollywood star ), I learnt that the process of self-improvement meant that one had to detach one's mind from the physical being and critically judge one's own actions. Over time, we learn to be objective and efficient critics of our own self.

Provided that analysis is neutral, one can find answers to some of the most annoying problems that we face. The answer lay in judging ones own self objectively. I started noting my own modus operandi in trading. I was horrified!

I bet money on other peoples recommendations as convincingly as I did on my own "recos" and waited with eyes tightly shut. I left it to fate to determine my success or failure. As you would know, there are three steps to trading — the first is researching a trade; the next is initiating a trade, and finally; managing a trade.

According to most market masters, the difference between a loser and winner invariably depended on the third and then the first of the 3-step game plan. Risk management and damage control was more important than profits made from trading.

I was now deeply interested in reading further and started buying books on technical analysis and market players' biographies. A chilling observation emerged.

Trading is a mind-over-matter activity and involved a great deal of intellectual muscle rather than financial muscle. Because we do not stock physical goods (like in other businesses), and only give or take cheques when we make or lose money, we tend to succumb to a lulled state of mind where our losing strategies are concerned.

Reading further I realised that all players — actors, politicians and businessmen — gave it their best shot when they were in their twilight of their career. Watch a cricketer or tennis player during the last match of his or her life. They want to have the best game of their career before hanging their boots.

What if we were to trade with the assumption that it was to be the last trade of our lives? The trade that we would be remembered for? A "crowning glory" trade, rather than trade like a novice rookie who bumbles along. Pay great attention to detail, tie up all the loose ends and emphasise the 3-step game plan listed above.

It's a thought worth entertaining. You will no more have to rely on external inputs and "tips". You will not be swayed by the markets and become a more successful trader over time. This is my personal assurance to you.

Still want to play the stock market? Then go ahead and give it your best shot.

*The author is an investment consultant.


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