Helpful Articles

The Difference Between Investing/Trading and Fundamental/Technical Analysis January 7, 2016 15:36

     I often get asked by potential students to explain the difference between investing/trading, and fundamental analysis/technical analysis. The second question is usually why I personally lean towards trading over investing, and technical analysis over fundamental analysis. With that said I wanted to first share with you an article written by Jean Folger that addresses the basic differences between investing and trading. Following the article I'll add my personal take on why we teach swing trading over longer term investing and why we focus on technical analysis over fundamental analysis. Enjoy! 

 What is the difference between investing and trading? 

By: Jean Folger

    "Investing and trading are two very different methods of attempting to profit in the financial markets. The goal of investing is to gradually build wealth over an extended period of time through the buying and holding of a portfolio of stocks, baskets of stocks, mutual funds, bonds and other investment instruments. Investors often enhance their profits through compounding, or reinvesting any profits and dividends into additional shares of stock. Investments are often held for a period of years, or even decades, taking advantage of perks like interest, dividends and stock splits along the way. While markets inevitably fluctuate, investors will "ride out" the downtrends with the expectation that prices will rebound and any losses will eventually be recovered. Investors are typically more concerned with market fundamentals, such as price/earnings ratios and management forecasts.

     Trading, on the other hand, involves the more frequent buying and selling of stock, commodities, currency pairs or other instruments, with the goal of generating returns that outperform buy-and-hold investing. While investors may be content with a 10 to 15% annual return, traders might seek a 10% return each month. Trading profits are generated through buying at a lower price and selling at a higher price within a relatively short period of time. The reverse is also true: trading profits are made by selling at a higher price and buying to cover at a lower price (known as "selling short") to profit in falling markets. Where buy-and-hold investors wait out less profitable positions, traders must make profits (or take losses) within a specified period of time, and often use a protective stop loss order to automatically close out losing positions at a predetermined price level. Traders often employ technical analysis tools, such as moving averages and stochastic oscillators, to find high-probability trading setups.

     A trader's "style" refers to the timeframe or holding period in which stocks, commodities or other trading instruments are bought and sold. Traders generally fall into one of four categories:

  • Position Trader – positions are held from months to years

  • Swing Trader – positions are held from days to weeks

  • Day Trader – positions are held throughout the day only with no overnight positions

  • Scalp Trader – positions are held for seconds to minutes with no overnight positions

     Traders often choose their trading style based on factors including: account size, amount of time that can be dedicated to trading, level of trading experience, personality and risk tolerance. Both investors and traders seek profits through market participation. In general, investors seek larger returns over an extended period through buying and holding. Traders, by contrast, take advantage of both rising and falling markets to enter and exit positions over a shorter timeframe, taking smaller, more frequent profits."

Why We Teach Trading Over Investing and Why We Focus on TA over FA

   The truth is when I first got started in the stock market, I was an "Investor." I watched Jim Cramer every day, read the "Intelligent Investor" by Benjamin Graham, and looked for high quality companies with great fundamentals. I paid zero attention to technical analysis because everything I was reading told me it was completely flawed and could produce no consistent long term results. It wasn't until I ended up losing patience with investing and basically lost all of my money on pump and dump emails that I actually sought out to master TA. I learned some very interesting things along the way that have inspired the way I teach.

     1st) Newer traders will fail at day trading 9/10 times.

     I began as a day trader. It, to this day, still haunts me how terrible I was at it. Yet, looking back, my strategies were solid. However due to the speed of the process and the potential for quick profit or quick losses, my mind was not seasoned enough to deal with the overwhelming emotions involved. It is because of this that I recommend any new trader start first with swing trading, then move into day trading if they desire. Swing trading is slower paced, can still produce great profits, and teaches principles that can one day transition you into day trading.

2nd) 90% of traders fail because they have no clear strategy

     There's a common stat I'm sure you've heard over a dozen times claiming roughly 90% of traders fail. In reality, that stat refers to day traders. For swing traders, it's more around 80%. Still far too high for any reasonable person to ever want to get involved. But here's the secret...the reason that number is so high is because 80% of swing traders and 90% of day traders are in it to get rich quick, and have zero interest in putting in the time to actually learn how to trade. By coming into trading with a level head and commitment to actually learning technical analysis before ever actually putting a single dollar at risk, your chances of success are greatly increased! The difference between students who go through our course and elite videos multiple times, ask questions, and paper trade for at-least a month and those who rush right into actual trading without any idea what they are doing is significant. The first group generally makes money once they move into trading with real capital, the latter group nearly every time ends up blowing their entire account.

3rd) Fundamental analysis/investing causes more emotion

     Contrary to what most big time investors will tell you, in my experience relying heavily on fundamental based investing (or even trading) actually causes one to be more emotional than simply relying on pure technical analysis. Here's why...When someone who truly understand TA and has a clear trading plan enters a trade, they are entering merely because a certain criteria was met. They understand the risk involved, have a stop loss in place, and are prepared for whatever happens. They are, in a sense, robotic. They have zero attachment to the actual company or it's balance sheet. The chart is telling them the story of what it is worth through supply and demand. End of story. When someone relying on pure fundamental analysis enters a trade, or investment, they have a connection to the actual company they are investing in. They see value, inspect the balance sheet like an accountant, and truly believe in the company. Supply and demand is nothing to them because the company itself is solid and set up for future growth. So when their investment doesn't pay off and the stock price falls, they are left confused and wondering how it could happen to such a great company. Generally, they look for excuses to explain the bad week or bad month, and end up holding their position for far too long thinking it will rebound because it's "such a great company." See the difference and how emotion plays a major role? The reason this often get's twisted is because people look at those 80-90% of traders who really have no understanding of TA and use them as the example of how technical analysis fails and causes emotion, when really they should study those who have truly sought out to learn and educate themselves. 

4th) A good trader or investor should be well versed in both TA and FA

     The truth is there's value in both fundamental analysis and technical analysis, whether you are an investor or trader. Any good TA trader will have at-least a basic understanding of fundamentals to prevent them from buying shares in companies based out of mini vans (I'm talking to you sub penny stocks!) and any good FA investor will have at-least a basic understanding of TA to help them enter their longer term investments at the best price possible and to understand that supply and demand is a major player in the movement of the stocks price.

In Conclusion

     The main reasons I teach swing trading over investing is because it caters more towards those with the lack of necessary capital to ever see any significant long term profit in investing, it allows people to take more control over their money and to be more involved which ultimately leads to increased commitment, and it takes advantage of multiple entry and exit opportunities over the same period an investor would buy/hold and produce less profit. The main reason I focus on technical analysis over fundamental analysis is because TA removes emotion from the equation and allows a trader to be robotic in their decision making, TA places much more emphasis on the actions of other traders and investors and shows an historical picture of how they react, allowing one to predict future price movements, and TA essentially paints a picture of the true worth of a particular stock without having to delve into the actual company and becoming overly attached. So, if you're looking to control more of your portfolio and trade stocks on your own, then technical analysis based swing trading is the best place to start in our opinion!    

How to Overcome Big Trading Losses July 22, 2015 21:10

     Every trader has been there. You're finally starting to feel confident in what you've learned in your trading career and are ready to make another trade. You do the proper scanning, find a stock that matches your strategy, set your buy points, profit target, stop loss, and prepare to enter the trade. Everything seems to be setting up perfectly. You enter the trade, things go good for a bit, then one day you wake up and your position is down 35%, leaving you to wonder what you did wrong. Now, this may not be the exact story you went through, but the message is the same. We all have losses, some bigger than others. How we handle those losses will define us as traders.

     My early trading career was filled with a series of amazing wins, and devastating losses. One day I'd make a trade and lock in a nice 30% profit, the next day I'd lose 50%. As many of you know, I fell prey to the typical pump and dump scams many of you took part in as well before becoming one of my students (we address these scams in our trading course for this exact reason). As I actually began to learn and understand the art of trading, those devastating losses started to disappear. I knew why I was making trades, I had stop losses, and a complete plan for each trade I entered. Yet still, there was the occasional big loss that could send anyone into traders depression (that moment when you question why you ever started trading in the first place). So, for that, I've compiled 5 simple things to do to get your mind off the loss, and back in the game!

1) Make Sure You Actually Have a Plan

This first point may not actually make you feel better, but it is necessary. Did you make the trade fully understanding why, or did you blindly make the trade or buy it just because someone told you to? If you can get to the root of the problem, you can begin to fix the mistake and feel confident in the knowledge that you are working to correct it.

2) Call it Quits for the Day, or Even Week

Sometimes taking time away from trading can re-motivate you. You could be doing everything right, yet still be losing. It's at times like that, that I simply shut it down for the day. Go on a walk. Go catch a movie. Go workout. Do something to take your mind off things. And, when you feel ready, ease back into it.

3) Look Back On Your First Winning Trade

Look back to your first winning trade. Remember how it felt and how happy you were to be trading? Now, also look back at your first win after your first losing trade. Realize that you can get back on the horse, because you already have! If this trade is your first loss, I've got good news for you! Your next win is right around the corner! 

4) Understand That Even the Best Traders Lose

No trader is immune to losing. Even though I've been able to achieve a 75% to 80% winning percentage, I've had my fair share of major losses. Even the best traders out there lose. Understand it is part of the game. Don't beat yourself up over a failed trade, especially if you had a clear plan in place!

5) Get Back to the Basics

The best thing you can do after a major loss, is really get back to the basics of trading. Take some time off and re-do our  trading course. Re-Visit our Elite Members video library and watch all the videos again, taking notes or adding to what you already have. Don't change your entire trading strategy. Instead, get back to the basics of what your strategy is and why it is effective!

Trading is mental warfare. When you're losing, it can feel like the entire world is coming down on you. Pick yourself up, and re-assure yourself that you can do this! When you handle your trading losses like a true pro, you can rest assured you'll be in this game for the long haul.



How much money do I need to start trading? May 5, 2015 11:02

Author: Ayton MacEachern, Investopedia


The step toward becoming an active trader is a big one, because the world of active trading is quite different from that of casual investing. It is important to understand the implications of making the switch, including increased commissions, which could be wipe out your gains before you really begin.


Commissions most likely are the largest cost you will be take on as an active trader. Other expenses, such as software, Internet, and training costs, could be high, too, but often they are dwarfed by the cost of commissions. A trader sometimes will make over 100 transactions per month and commissions can vary widely depending on the broker you are working with. It is important not only to shop around for the best software, execution speeds, and customer service, but also to look around for commission costs that are most favorable to you.

Things to Look For
Although there is no hard and fast rule for how much you should have in your account to start trading, many brokerages will set this amount for you. For example, a brokerage may say that you need a minimum of $3,000 to open a margin account, the type of account you would need to make short sale trades or to purchase or sell options.

For a good start, be sure to look out for account minimums at the brokerages you investigate This number usually is set for a reason because it is in the brokerage's best interest to keep you trading for as long as possible to ensure that they continue to collect commissions. These minimums often are put into place to reduce the risk of you burning up your entire account in just a few trades, or even worse, getting a margin call. In the case of the latter, you would have to deposit more funds into your account in order to keep your current position open.