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Nial Fuller

Professional Trader, Author & Trading Coach

Why You Don’t Need To Be Smart To Be a Trader

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By in Forex Trading Tutorials Last updated on | 49 Comments

brain-diagram-6Many people think that you need to have a Master’s degree in Finance or be some Albert Einstein math-wiz to be a successful Forex trader. Well, I am living proof that you don’t need some fancy college degree or a doctorate in mathematics to be a skilled trader in the Forex markets. I started trading when I was in high school and shortly after getting out I started to become successful as a trader. I never finished college, and I don’t claim to be the “sharpest tool in the shed”. However, what I understand, and what other consistently successful Forex traders understand, is that trading success is not only about knowing you need to control yourself and your actions in the market, but actually doing it.

I know that sounds simple, but being a successful Forex trader really does boil down to these two main points:

1) Understanding that you must consciously control your interactions with the market so that you always do what is logically and objectively the best thing for your trading account at any given time.

2) Actually doing number one; it’s not enough to just understand….you have to actually DO. Remember, as Yoda said in Star Wars, “No! Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.”

A good analogy for this concept is the fact that some doctors smoke cigarettes, I personally had a a doctor who I knew was a smoker when I was kid. Now, it’s pretty safe to say that all doctors UNDERSTAND they should not smoke or do anything to damage their body. So…it isn’t that they aren’t smart enough…it’s that they just don’t have the proper habits and (or) they aren’t disciplined enough to carry them out.

The same thing can be said for many Forex traders; it isn’t that they aren’t smart enough to understand how to trade properly….it’s that they just don’t DO WHAT THEY KNOW NEEDS TO BE DONE.

Long-term success vs. short-term satisfaction

Successful Forex traders understand that their trading success is measured over a large series of trades, not just a few. This is not a difficult concept to understand; you don’t need a genius IQ or a degree in finance to understand this. So, once again, we are seeing exactly why you don’t need to be super smart to be a successful Forex trader. What you DO need is some common sense and the ability to act on what you know is true.

So, a key element to becoming a consistently profitable Forex trader is aiming for long-term success, rather than short-term satisfaction. Giving into short-term satisfaction is the main reason why most Forex traders lose money. It isn’t enough to just know that you shouldn’t give into short-term satisfaction in regards to your trading; you have to actually not do it. Amateur traders end up over-trading and risking too much because they cannot overcome the temporary satisfaction that these actions bring to them. You have to be able to ignore these temptations with the knowledge that exercising patience and discipline is the only way to become successful over a longer period of time. What good is winning a few trades really quickly if you give all your winnings back the next week or the next day? Traders who give in to short-term satisfaction are constantly experiencing very volatile changes in the equity curve of their trading accounts, this usually ultimately ends in disaster with a blown out account.

So, while it is important to understand the importance of patience in Forex trading, you ALSO need to execute this understanding by ignoring all the short-term temptations that will come at you every time you open your trading platform. In fact, you could say that the way you manage your interactions with the Forex market is far more important than your intelligence or your ability to understand complicated mathematical trading algorithms or any other similar unnecessary trading “tool”.

What types of people typically make good traders?

While there is no concrete rule as to who can be a successful Forex trader and who can’t, certainly people who are naturally more disciplined and realistic have an easier time achieving success in the markets than people who lack discipline in most areas of their lives and (or) who tend to ignore reality.

Discipline and overall fortitude are indeed FAR more important than intelligence when it comes to successful Forex trading. Many highly successful people in other fields fail miserably when it comes to trading the markets. Doctors, lawyers, college professors, you name it, there is no shortage of people from these highly-skilled fields and others that have lost thousands of dollars in the markets. It’s not because they weren’t smart enough to understand the concepts…this clearly is not the case; the reason highly intelligent and highly skilled people have no real advantage over anyone else is because becoming a professional Forex trader depends mostly on your ability to execute…not to comprehend.

It is execution of discipline that makes a successful trader, this means reinforcing positive trading habits instead of negative ones and making a conscious effort to make sure all your actions in the market are logical and not-emotion based. For these reasons we often see ex-military personal succeeding in the markets; because they know what it’s like to make discipline a part of their everyday lives. This is not to say that successful and intelligent people in other fields cannot be successful traders, in fact this is obviously not the case it all, I am just trying to emphasize the fact that intelligence and previous accomplishments do not really matter at all when it comes to trading. What matters the most is your ability to stay dedicated to and master your Forex trading strategy, your ability to stay disciplined in the face of constant temptation, and your ability to stay realistic.

Keep It Simple Stupid

keep_it_simpleYet another result of amateur traders erroneously believing that trading needs to be complicated or that they need to be super smart to succeed at it, is the fact that so many of them employ Forex indicators and (or) Forex trading robots to try and analyze and trade the market.

I won’t lie to you guys, early on in my trading career I tried all the typical indicators, I was stuck in the analysis-paralysis rut and I thought there was some “magic” combination of indicators that if I could just figure out, would give me a virtual key to riches. After enough trial and error I realized that was just not true. I began to notice the beauty in the simplicity of the price action occurring underneath all the messy indicators I had on my charts back in those early days. Once I peeled off all these indicators and swore them off forever, I began trading on simple price action strategies, these are the same ones I use today and that I teach to aspiring traders, granted I have definitely tweaked and refined them, but the simplicity remains, because it works.

You see, there is no “magic” indicator and there is no knowledge that I have that you guys cannot or do not already have. The difference between traders who are successful like me, and traders who are not, can only be explained through the difference in our behavior in the market. I trade a lot less than you might think, and so do the other successful traders who I know. It’s all about trading Forex like a sniper instead of a machine gunner. If you’d like to learn more about this “stupidly” simple style of Forex trading check out my price action trading course.

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About Nial Fuller

is a Professional Trader & Author who is considered ‘The Authority’ on Price Action Trading. He has a monthly readership of 250,000+ traders and has taught 20,000+ students since 2008. In 2016, Nial won the Million Dollar Trader Competition. Checkout Nial's Professional Trading Course here.
  1. MUNGE August 13, 2019 at 4:36 pm

    Some points to be highlight patience is key ,not interfering with trades

  2. Tom May 4, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    Thanks Nial.
    Am really encourage, though am new to FX!
    Great stuff, God Bless You.

  3. Dillon May 4, 2012 at 12:12 am

    This is my first time here, and a lot of the information on your site fits me exactly! I have every single one of these problems…

    This article may have changed the way I look at the market, excellent stuff!

  4. Sonja May 1, 2012 at 6:51 am

    You rock Nial, you are THE BEST mentor in the world!
    Keep it going!

  5. slivester May 1, 2012 at 1:47 am

    thanks very2 much sir

  6. Todor May 1, 2012 at 1:17 am

    You have my bow again, Nial! Everything you teach i find a piece of genius. I should only learn and apply. Thank you very much indeed!

  7. julius April 30, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    Nial, All that you listed were the things that choked me.Thank you for always being there. May God bless you.

  8. eileen khoo April 30, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Thank Nial! You had just hit on my obsession and over-analyzing so much so that more often than not I just missed th trade. Will take note and work on that, thanks once again!

  9. Kevin(Zach)Harper April 30, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Great Stuff Nial
    Have to totally agree….Be Patient…Be Patient….and then finally ask yourself …Is this really a quality trade setup ???

    Excellent Nial

  10. anton April 30, 2012 at 6:33 am

    A++ Article. If you cant grasp the above points then their is no saving you from ruin.

  11. pecsen April 29, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    Very useful article again, thank you Nail for your effort!
    In many cases I tried to be patient, but I wasn’t strong enough, so I did some mistakes:
    I checked the charts during working hours, I checked it on mobile phone and modified stop, limit etc. Like others I also do try to reduce the number of my mistakes,
    so first of all I decided to remove the trader application from my phone (however it was perfect, I loved it, but don’t need it), and I started to use weekly charts and the daily. Nowdays I take pending entry (stop, limit) orders and I don’t check the charts for one or two days. I will try to not change the view of the charts to 4h candle, the daily is much stronger and contains everything I need.
    And I wait to close the daily candles. I already haven’t read articles about economy for x month, I’ve spent my time with much more useful things (want to improve my english).
    I’m sure If I’ll not violate these rules, I’ll be much more successful in trading (of course by Nail’s price action) with less effort and less stress and with better english :) Sometimes you have to be strict with yourself (others will not be) during the road to the main goal. Just my two cents! Good luck! :)

  12. Yusuf Hammed April 29, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Nial you are a FX GURU you know how unsuccessful fx traders feel.Every FX trader most learn how to be Patient and looks for Good set up before they enter the market.I like you, you just keep it simple and make it simple.

  13. Jerry Snyder April 29, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Hi Nial,
    as always you are right on – I know that I have to keep reminding myself and your timing is remarkable – thanks -jerry

  14. Amio April 29, 2012 at 6:33 am

    Very true.What are the antidotes?

  15. DRS April 29, 2012 at 5:45 am

    2 years is what it takes to work out the markets.

  16. sez elabor April 29, 2012 at 4:25 am

    what can i say Nial? you are the epitome of a professional trader.. this artcle is splendid and good for traders.. you are the best Forex Mentor i have ever known.. thank you a million times..

  17. Robert Meinecke April 29, 2012 at 4:21 am

    Thank You Nial for a Block Buster Article. This is exacttly what has happened to me and it is a wake up call for me. You really know how to hit home in such an easy understanding way. I really liked your “Holy Grail” desription about patience. Thank you again.

  18. Bhupinder April 28, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    Just Brilliant. Thanks for making things easier Nial.

  19. AMIN MALIK April 28, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    NIAL! Thank you for being pretty serious in your MISSION of helping Traders at large. For sure, many of us are improving/ developing the proper MINDSET to become a successful TRADER. Your ability to get to the MEAT of the subject is IMPRESSIVE. Please keep coming. THANKS & REGARDS. AMIN

  20. Jude FX April 28, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    your articles are very factual for anyone who can follow them. keep it up because you are changing lives!

  21. Tay Jui Chuan April 28, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    Hi Nial,
    Thank you very much for this timely article and a very timely reminder.
    Thank you very much

  22. hamish April 28, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    todays lesson is bang on and a must for all wannabe successful traders. great insite and knowledge to be gained for all. thanks Nial

  23. Ramli April 28, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Thanks n Cheers

  24. John April 28, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Banks and institutional traders sit on the side line, why shouldn’t we. Thank you Nial Cash is a position.

  25. Colin April 28, 2012 at 7:54 am

    Thanks Nial thats the best lesson yet. It somes me up what I used to do, But slowly breaking all my bad habits. I am saving all these 5 lessons & will keep going over them just to help me through some rough patches Thanks Nial Great Lesson

  26. Oztrades April 28, 2012 at 7:42 am

    Well said. Just topped up my account and am sitting. Missed the big pin bar on the AUD/USD 4 hrly yesterday….. waiting for the next bus to hop on.

  27. Isaac April 28, 2012 at 6:18 am

    Great write up, thanks

  28. wilson April 28, 2012 at 4:06 am

    Nial excellent theme, the simple is better, thanks.

  29. Russ April 28, 2012 at 4:04 am

    Nail on the head Nial!!!! You are a truth bringer!

  30. dcsneeden April 28, 2012 at 3:19 am

    Excellent article Nial! If feels like you know all my struggles or maybe you have experienced all of these challenges. I definately need more patience! Thanks.

  31. inder sachdev April 28, 2012 at 2:18 am

    Simply amazing!

  32. Zahid April 28, 2012 at 1:58 am

    Great article as usual. Scanned the brain, thinking and psychology of the newbi. I have learned a lot through it. Thank you Nial.

    Zahid Malik

  33. flash April 28, 2012 at 1:36 am

    I dont often post comments, but it is warranted this time. This one is a duizzie! 10/10! Well done Nial.

  34. Pham April 28, 2012 at 12:59 am

    Great article, very useful, I like it a lot, thanks Nial for that!

  35. Jeevan April 28, 2012 at 12:33 am

    well said, a lesson to be followed and applied for each traders on their trade, as you always say keep it simple and short – is the key to success i always believe, nice work again,, may this lesson awakes someone

  36. Kimbo4x April 28, 2012 at 12:32 am

    Great article. I believe overtrading is part of our “work ethic.”

    Many of us think that if we don’t trade today, we didn’t put in an honest days work. It goes against our “work ethic.” Deciding NOT to take a trade is WORK, too. Work smarter, not harder.

    Looking at Andy’s post, I would greatly appreciate feedback from Nial.

    Personally, I believe in setting pending entry orders. You must be careful, though. I reduce my position size, and I only choose trades where the risk reward ratio is quite high — in fact a set my entry level to increase that RRR (like using a 62% retrace instead of 50% retrace). Also, I only do this in early to mid Tokyo session so the limit order trade has a chance to grow throughout London and NY.


  37. AndyH April 27, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    Great article. Trying to internalize all these lessons. I often feel compelled to trade because I have a narrow window in which I can. 6PM to 1AM EST when things can be a bit slow. Nial, since we are most clear minded when we are out of the market, would it make sense for us to set up pending orders?

    ~ Andy

  38. YangL April 27, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    Technique, patience and discipline are key to win, thank you for your sharing!

  39. ed April 27, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    #1 hits the nail on the head! thx

  40. cheetu April 27, 2012 at 10:59 pm


    Essentially it says get off the GRQ brain!


  41. Wes April 27, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    Yea Man! Didn’t start being profitable until I learned patience.

  42. onesi John April 27, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    nice article, thanks for all ur service to the trading community

  43. samuel April 27, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    What an article! Thanks Nail,prof of price action.This is too good.

  44. Kenny R April 27, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    Great Great post Nial. I used to do all that before I learned Price Action trading on a naked chart. I’m making a killing using just one Price Action setup that I can call all mine now. Trading can get pre-school easy when you have a well defined strategy and plan with strict money management. Mix in some patience and discipline and BINGO!!! There’s your holy grail right there. Account is up 40% in 120 days taking a few trades a month of just pin bars! Love it!

  45. Chris H April 27, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    Good stuff Niall and I recognise some of thse. You deserve encouragement – there are some dreadful so called mentors out there. Keep it going m8!

  46. Chris April 27, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    An amazingly intuitive piece of work Nial. You really hit home. recently I was thinking about what the most powerful weapon in the forex asrenal is and maybe illogically came to the concusion that “you do not have to trade”. No-one is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to trade. So patience, waiting for best opportunity to come along is everything.


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