I have really wanted to write an article on why I hate day-trading for some time now…because I actually do HATE it…Day-trading is something that everyone knows about; you could walk up to any stranger and say “what do you think about day-trading?”, and they would probably say something like “risky, but it can make you rich really fast”. Day-trading is one of the main ideas that lures people into the trading world; they think they will make some fast money and live the “dream” if they just learn how to “day-trade”. However, once they try it, most people quickly realize that it’s time intensive, stressful, and extremely difficult to make consistent money at.
If you get hooked on day-trading you are going to enter into a game of ‘quantity over quality’ of trades, and that is not what we believe in here at Learn To Trade The Market. Our goal is to help traders ‘preserve capital’ and wait patiently for only the ‘high probability trades’. Hopefully this article gives you some insight into why day trading is typically a highway to disaster for most traders.
I hate the façade of the stereotypical “day-trader”…
There seems to be an impression among the general public that if you’re a financial market speculator of any type you’re a “day-trader” sitting at home in front of multiple monitors making tons of frantic keystrokes and phone calls all day. Indeed, it seems more prestigious for us to tell our friends and acquaintances that we are “day-traders” during a lunch or dinner conversation…because when you tell someone you’re a day-trader they immediately get a certain image in their head. If you say “I’m a daily chart swing-trader and I trade 4 to 10 times per month”….well that just sounds a lot less glamorous doesn’t it?
This Illusion of the “day-trader” is something that appeals to many people simply because they want to say they are “day-traders”…there’s a certain perception of being some young and rich “day-trader” making millions and having a Ferrari…it ain’t reality though…
The reality of a day-trader is a guy who got 2 hours of sleep last night because he was trying to trade the overnight session, now he’s up at 6am trying to day-trade the next session. Many traders get sucked into trying to become a rich day-trader largely because that’s what they think is socially acceptable or “cool”, and it turns into them being glued to the charts every chance they get and probably not making much money (if any). This is not a healthy way to trade and it’s definitely not a healthy way to learn how to trade.
Top down approach
As a trading educator, it makes me HATE day-trading even more when I think about all the trading websites out there promoting it and how a lot of them are geared towards beginner traders, not to mention how heavily day-trading and scalping are discussed in almost every public trading discussion forum on the internet. Day-trading is something that should only be attempted by a very experienced trader, and probably should just not be attempted at all.
You need to think of trading like building a house; first you need a foundation to build the house on, then as the house progresses you get down to finer and finer details until finally you are discussing how to decorate the interior and what type of TV to buy. As a trader, you NEED to understand how the higher time frame charts work and higher time frame price dynamics before you attempt trading the lower time frames. Trading should ALWAYS be taught and learned in a top-down technical approach, so that you understand what the higher time frames are doing before you try lower time frame trading or day-trading. This is how I teach my students in my trading courses and it’s how I have personally traded for over a decade..
Most Brokers CA$H in on day-traders (not all, but most)
Another reason why I hate day-trading is that there’s definitely a financial incentive for brokers to get people to trade more frequently. It’s very simple, more trades equals more money from spreads or commissions and that equals more money for the broker. So, there’s an underlying bias by many brokers and the greater Forex industry to get traders hooked on trading as frequently as possible. Brokers who have wider spreads make more money off you every time you trade, so they want you to trade. Thus…day-traders make a lot of money for many brokers; this is why you aren’t going to see any information about the perils of day-trading on most brokers’ websites.
It’s worth noting that not all brokers do this; some brokers have very tight spreads and don’t emphasize day-trading, and this is fairer on the trader, but most simply don’t. A Forex broker is in a position of “authority” to the unsuspecting newbie retail trader who assumes the broker well always do what’s in the best interest of their client. The point is this; be sure you choose your broker wisely.
I’ve been trading for over 10 years and I still do not “day-trade”…that should tell you something right there. Again…it comes back to preserving your own capital…when you trade more frequently you give more money to your broker in spreads or commissions, leaving you with less money to trade with when you get high-probability signals in the market.
Stop-hunters love day-traders
Day traders naturally have stop losses closer to the market price since they are typically trading intra-day charts and trying to get quick gains with tight stops. The “big boys” and institutional traders love the average retail day-trader because they give them plenty of stops to “hunt”. Being a day trader and entering a lot of trades each week means it’s a lot harder to have a high winning percentage, largely because you get stopped out so much. Institutional traders have access to information on order flow and where stops are placed; it’s not only brokers who go “stop hunting” but the bigger institutional traders who can “sniff out” where the smaller intra-day traders are placing their stops. Have you ever noticed how if you try to trade intra-day the market tends to hit your stop and then reverse back in the direction of your initial position? The more day-trades you enter the greater risk you run of getting “stop-hunted” by the big boys.
Example Of Stop Hunting In Action
In the chart example below, we are looking at a 15minute USDJPY chart from earlier this week. Now, had you been trying to day-trade this 15 minute chart you probably would have talked yourself into trading all three of the pin bar setups below…
Example of How To Avoid Stop-Hunting
Now take a look at the daily USDJPY chart below…none of those 15 minute failed pin bar setups are even visible…by focusing on the daily chart you give the “stop-hunters” less prey, and you save yourself money, time and stress:
Market Noise: High-frequency and quant algorithm traders hurt retail day-traders
With the advent of high-frequency and quantitative algorithmic trading, we have intra-day charts that are full of false-signals and what I like to call “market noise”. A retail day-trader in today’s markets has a much tougher time trying to turn a profit than they did even about 10 years ago before all this high-frequency computer trading was so prevalent. These high-frequency traders have what is essentially an “unfair” edge because they see the data that we see but a lot sooner. (you can read an article later about high frequency trading here). This type of trading has really changed the “nature” of intra-day charts from what they used to be, making them more erratic and less predictable, which obviously makes it a lot harder for the average retail day-trader to read the chart…
Note all the “noise” on this chart…it’s a 5 minute chart and is only showing about a 15 pip range…this is a very messy and difficult chart to try and trade…notice all the failed signals and “shake outs” that occurred…this type of trading will chop your account to pieces very fast
This is another reason I really hate day-trading; who wants to try to sift through a sea of false-signals and market noise when you can so easily “smooth” it all out by looking at the higher time frame charts? As some of you know, I only teach and trade on time frames above the 1 hour, and even the 1 hour is not a time frame I personally trade very often. The 4 hour and daily time frames are my favorite, and I really consider anything below the 1 hour to be trading account “suicide”.
Filter out the “B.S.”
Day-trading ingrains and reinforces the “more is better” mindset which is basically gambling, instead of the “less is more” approach of swing trading the higher time frames. As we have seen, today’s retail day-trader is up against some pretty stiff competition in the form of super computers and algorithms that are programmed by math “wizards”. Why waste your time and fry your nerves trying to compete against such players with this type of unfair advantage when there is a much easier and more lucrative way to trade?
This is why I trade the 4 hour and daily charts; they filter out all the “B.S.” that happens on the small time frames as a result of all these super-computer-math-wiz-algorithms. I guess if I really had to explain the difference between day-trading and higher time frame swing trading it would be this; work smarter, not harder. Trading on the higher time frames and ignoring all the chop and “B.S” that day-traders try to deal with is really how you trade smarter. If you want more training and instruction on how to trade “smarter” on the higher time frames, checkout my Forex trading course and members community for more info.
Good trading, Nial Fuller