Trading Systems

Trading systems or a trading strategy is the backbone for all types of traders. While money management and risk management plays a major role in determining one’s success in trading, without a trading system or a strategy a trader has nothing else to do but to sit on their hands.

Perhaps, the importance of trading systems and strategies can be best gauged based on the eco-system that it has spawned.

Today, a trader is not short of choices with a wide range of black box trading systems and strategies available at one’s disposal.

Browsing through any of the many trading forums, it is not hard to miss the section about trading systems and strategies.

Look to any reputable trading magazine and you are bound to find a section related to stock trading systems. It could a simple technical analysis based trading strategy, and it can get as complex as using fundamentals.

There is a very strong likelihood that a trader will spend most of their time honing their skills on a trading system. It is through this process over evolution that a trader finally catches on a system or a style that works best for them.

What Is A Trading System?

A trading system is a set of rules that can be based on technical indicators or fundamental analysis. A trading system tells the trader when and how to trade. In many cases, trading systems act like a blueprint for trading.

A trading system is important for a trader because without it, there is no way a trader can expect to trade. Despite getting lucky a few times, one cannot expect to remain consistently profitable without following a trading system or a strategy.

What Are The Different Types Of Trading Systems Available?

Trading systems can be broadly classified into two types:

Everything else is either a clone of one of the above two. You can have a trading system based on technical indicators and you can also have a trading system that focuses on the fundamentals. Or both!

There is no telling which of the above two approaches are better. But it is known for sure that the more familiar a trader is with their trading system, the better their odds at being consistently profitable.

What Is A Mechanical Trading System?

As the name suggests a mechanical trading system is based on a set of trading rules. The trading rules are developed when several technical or fundamental indicators trigger a buy or a sell.

A mechanical trading system is the easiest to automate as there is not much of discretion involved.

A buy or a sell trade is initiated when the trading conditions are met.

An example of a mechanical trading system could be something as simple as a moving average cross over.

Now instead of having to wait for the 50 and 200 day moving average to trigger a bullish or a bearish crossover to buy or sell, a trader can simply code these rules into an algorithm which will constantly monitor the markets.

As and when the trading conditions are met, the appropriate trade is taken.

Most of the automated trading systems are mechanical in nature. Although there are quite a few complex algorithms based trading systems that can also be discretionary.

A mechanical trading system can also be developed based on fundamentals as well. For example, you can program or trade a mechanical trading system based on an inflation number or GDP release by analyzing the past behavior and considering the street’s expectations.

You can also develop a mechanical trading system on macro-economic factors such as the U.S. non-farm payrolls release and so on.

Pros And Cons Of A Mechanical Trading System

A mechanical trading system is good when:

A mechanical trading system is not always ideal in conditions such as:

What Is A Discretionary Trading System?

A discretionary trading system is where the trades are based on a mix of trading rules and experience. In some cases, discretionary trading systems can easily trump mechanical trading systems.

The discretionary trading system is comparatively complex than a rule based trading system.

It can be difficult to code a discretionary trading system as the buy and sell rules can change at every instance. Thus, there is no uniformity involved and the success of using a discretionary trading system largely depends on the trader’s familiarity with the system

A classic example of a discretionary trading system could be based on fundamentals. This could be as simple as analyzing the comments from an interest rate decision. You can also combine various macro-economic factors to determine what the next monetary policy decision will be.

Or with basic technical analysis when drawing for example a bearish flag chart pattern.

Plotting or identifying a flag pattern isn’t an exact science but an art. The only way one can hone their skills is by experience. Still, every time will be different as a trader will need to adjust their analysis accordingly.

While it is possible to plot trend lines, coding the different variations of a flag chart pattern for example can be tedious and can throw a lot of errors.

Sure, you will find some trading signals this way by means of automating the process to hunt for such chart patterns. But there is a very good chance that your automated trading system could miss potential trade set ups, or even worse lead you into a false signal as well.

Pros And Cons Of A DIscretionary Trading Sytem

A discretionary trading system also has its pros and cons.

Trading with a discretionary trading system is ideal when:

Many beginners to day trading often shun the idea of using a discretionary trading system and here’s why.

Reviewing A Trading Sytem

Whether it is a discretionary or a mechanical trading system being used, one must thoroughly examine the strategy. Presently, there are many solutions that offer to analyze your trading systems for you, giving you a detailed report on the pros and cons.

This is a huge timesaver compared to having to analyze the trading system all by yourself.

It is ultimately up to the individual investor to perform his or her due diligence on the trading system that they want to use.

The key thing to remember is to not only focus on the gains over a specified period of time, but also the maximum drawdown and risk exposure of the system.

For example, if a trading system that trades during a bear market is making a lot of profits when the markets are falling, it doesn’t mean much. The trading system should also be tested during a market uptrend as well.

Other factors to consider include understanding what assets to use the trading system on, and the time frame for holding the trades as well.

Remember, it’s not the system, but rather your blind belief in the strategy that will ultimately lead to success.

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