he global forex market does more than $5 trillion in average daily trading volume, making it the largest financial market in the world. Forex’s popularity entices foreign-exchange traders of all levels, from greenhorns just learning about the financial markets to well-seasoned professionals. Because it is so easy to trade forex – with round-the-clock sessions, access to significant leverage and relatively low costs – it is also very easy to lose money trading forex. Here are 10 ways that traders can avoid losing money in the competitive forex market.
1. Do Your Homework – Learn Before You Burn
Just because forex is easy to get into, it doesn’t mean that due diligence can be avoided. Learning about forex is integral to a trader’s success in the forex markets. While the majority of learning comes from live trading and experience, a trader should learn everything possible about the forex markets, including the geopolitical and economic factors that affect a trader’s preferred currencies. Homework is an ongoing effort as traders need to be prepared to adapt to changing market conditions, regulations and world events. Part of this research process involves developing a trading plan – a systematic method for screening and evaluating investments, determining the amount of risk that is or should be taken and formulating short- and long-term investment objectives.
2. Take the Time to Find a Reputable Broker
The forex industry has much less oversight than other markets, so it is possible to end up doing business with a less-than-reputable forex broker. Due to concerns about the safety of deposits and the overall integrity of a broker, forex traders should only open an account with a firm that is a member of the National Futures Association (NFA) and that is registered with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) as a futures commission merchant. Each country outside of the United States has its own regulatory body with which legitimate forex brokers should be registered.
Traders should also research each broker’s account offerings, including leverage amounts, commissions and spreads, initial deposits, and account funding and withdrawal policies. A helpful customer service representative should have all this information and be able to answer any questions regarding the firm’s services and policies.
3. Use a Practice Account
Nearly all trading platforms come with a practice account, sometimes called a simulated account or demo account. These accounts allow traders to place hypothetical trades without a funded account. Perhaps the most important benefit of a practice account is that it allows a trader to become adept at order-entry techniques.
Few things are as damaging to a trading account (and a trader’s confidence) as pushing the wrong button when opening or exiting a position. It is not uncommon, for example, for a new trader to accidentally add to a losing position instead of closing the trade. Multiple errors in order entry can lead to large, unprotected losing trades. Aside from the devastating financial implications, this situation is incredibly stressful. Practice makes perfect: Experiment with order entries before placing real money on the line.
4. Keep Charts Clean
Once a forex trader has opened an account, it may be tempting to take advantage of all the technical analysis tools offered by the trading platform. While many of these indicators are well-suited to the forex markets, it is important to remember to keep analysis techniques to a minimum in order for them to be effective. Using multiples of the same types of indicators – such as two volatility indicators or two oscillators, for example – can become redundant and can even give opposing signals. This should be avoided.
Any analysis technique that is not regularly used to enhance trading performance should be removed from the chart. In addition to the tools that are applied to the chart, pay attention to the overall look of the workspace. The chosen colors, fonts and types of price bars (line, candle bar, range bar, etc.) should create an easy-to-read-and-interpret chart, allowing the trader to more effectively respond to changing market conditions.
5. Protect Your Trading Account
While there is much focus on making money in forex trading, it is important to learn how to avoid losing money. Proper money management techniques are an integral part of successful trading. Many veteran traders would agree that one can enter a position at any price and still make money – it’s how one gets out of the trade that matters.
Part of this is knowing when to accept your losses and move on. Always using a protective stop loss (a strategy designed to protect existing gains or thwart further losses by means of a stop-loss order or limit order) is an effective way to make sure that losses remain reasonable. Traders can also consider using a maximum daily loss amount beyond which all positions would be closed and no new trades initiated until the next trading session. While traders should have plans to limit losses, it is equally essential to protect profits. Money management techniques, such as utilizing trailing stops (a stop order that can be set at a defined percentage away from a security’s current market price) can help preserve winnings while still giving a trade room to grow.