Risk management

What Is Risk Management?

Risk management is one of the most important topics you will ever read about trading.

Why is it important? Well, we are in the business of making money, and in order to make money we have to learn how to manage risk (potential losses).

Ironically, this is one of the most overlooked areas in trading. Many forex traders are just anxious to get right into trading with no regard for their total account size.

They simply determine how much they can stomach to lose in a single trade and hit the “trade” button. There’s a term for this type of investing….it’s called…

GAMBLING!

Gambling is NOT risk management!

 

When you trade without risk management rules, you are in fact gambling.

You are not looking at the long term return on your investment. Instead, you are only looking for that “jackpot.”

Risk management rules will not only protect you, but they can make you very profitable in the long run. If you don’t believe us, and you think that “gambling” is the way to get rich, then consider this example:

People go to Las Vegas all the time to gamble their money in hopes of winning a big jackpot, and in fact, many people do win.

So how in the world are casinos still making money if many individuals are winning jackpots?

The answer is that while even though people win jackpots, in the long run, casinos are still profitable because they rake in more money from the people that don’t win. That is where the term “the house always wins” comes from.

The truth is that casinos are just very rich statisticians. They know that in the long run, they will be the ones making the money–not the gamblers.

Even if Joe Schmoe wins a $100,000 jackpot in a slot machine, the casinos know that there will be hundreds of other gamblers who WON’T win that jackpot and the money will go right back in their pockets.

This is a classic example of how statisticians make money over gamblers. Even though both lose money, the statistician, or casino in this case, knows how to control its losses. Essentially, this is how risk management works. If you learn how to control your losses, you will have a chance at being profitable.

In the end, forex trading is a numbers game, meaning you have to tilt every little factor in your favor as much as you can. In casinos, the house edge is sometimes only 5% above that of the player. But that 5% is the difference between being a winner and being a loser.

You want to be the rich statistician and NOT the gambler because, in the long run, you want to “always be the winner.”

So how do you become this rich statistician instead of a loser?  Keep reading!

How Much Trading Capital Do You Need For Forex Trading?

It takes money to make money. You need trading capital. Everyone knows that, but how much does one need to get started in forex trading? The answer largely depends on how you are going to approach your new start-up business.

First, consider how you are going to be educated. There are many different approaches in learning how to trade: classes, mentors, on your own, or any combination of the three.

While there are many classes and mentors out there willing to teach forex trading, most will charge a fee. The benefit of this route is that a well-taught class or great mentor can significantly shorten your learning curve and get you on your way to profitability in a much shorter amount of time compared to doing everything yourself.

The downside is the upfront cost for these programs, which can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on which program you go with. For many of those new to trading, the resources (money) required to purchase these programs are not available.

As long as you are disciplined and laser-focused on learning the markets, your chances of success increase exponentially. You have to be a gung ho student. If not, you’ll end up in the poor house.

Second, is your approach to the markets going to require special tools such as news feeds or charting software? As a technical forex trader, most of the charting packages that come with your broker’s trading platform are sufficient (and some are actually quite good).

For those who need special indicators or better functionality, higher-end charting software can start at around $100 per month.

Maybe you’re a fundamental trader and you need the news the millisecond it is released, or even before it happens (wouldn’t that be nice!).

Well, instantaneous and accurate news feeds run from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per month. Again, you can get a complimentary news feed from your forex broker, but for some, that extra second or two can be the difference between a profitable or unprofitable trade.

Finally, you need money/capital/funds to trade. Retail forex brokers offer minimum account deposits as low as $25, but that doesn’t mean you should enter immediately! This is a capitalization mistake, which often leads to failure. Losses are part of the game, and you need to have enough capital to weather these losses.

So how much trading capital do you need? Let’s be honest here, if you’re consistent and you practice proper risk management techniques, then you can probably start off with $50k to $100k in trading capital.

It’s common knowledge that most businesses fail due to undercapitalization, which is especially true in the forex trading business.

So if you are unable to start with a large amount of trading capital that you can afford to lose, be patient, save up and learn to trade the right way until you are financially ready.

Never Risk More Than 2% Per Trade

How much should you risk per trade?

Great question. Try to limit your risk to 2% per trade.

But that might even be a little high. Especially if you’re newbie forex trader.

Here is an important illustration that will show you the difference between risking a small percentage of your capital per trade compared to risking a higher percentage.

Trader Risks 2% vs. 10% Per Trade

Trade # Total Account 2% risk on each trade Trade # Total Account 10% risk on each trade
1 $20,000 $400 1 $20,000 $2,000
2 $19,600 $392 2 $18,000 $1,800
3 $19,208 $384 3 $16,200 $1,620
4 $18,824 $376 4 $14,580 $1,458
5 $18,447 $369 5 $13,122 $1,312
6 $18,078 $362 6 $11,810 $1,181
7 $17,717 $354 7 $10,629 $1,063
8 $17,363 $347 8 $9,566 $957
9 $17,015 $340 9 $8,609 $861
10 $16,675 $333 10 $7,748 $775
11 $16,341 $327 11 $6,974 $697
12 $16,015 $320 12 $6,276 $628
13 $15,694 $314 13 $5,649 $565
14 $15,380 $308 14 $5,084 $508
15 $15,073 $301 15 $4,575 $458
16 $14,771 $295 16 $4,118 $412
17 $14,476 $290 17 $3,706 $371
18 $14,186 $284 18 $3,335 $334
19 $13,903 $278 19 $3,002 $300

You can see that there is a big difference between risking 2% of your account compared to risking 10% of your account on a single trade!

If you happened to go through a losing streak and lost only 19 trades in a row, you would’ve went from starting with $20,000 to having only $3,002 left if you risked 10% on each trade.

You would’ve lost over 85% of your account!

If you risked only 2% you would’ve still had $13,903 which is only a 30% loss of your total account.

Of course, the last thing we want to do is to lose 19 trades in a row, but even if you only lost 5 trades in a row, look at the difference between risking 2% and 10%. If you risked 2% you would still have $18,447. If you risked 10% you would only have $13,122. That’s less than what you would’ve had even if you lost all 19 trades and risked only 2% of your account!

The point of this illustration is that you want to setup your risk management rules so that when you do have a drawdown period, you will still have enough capital to stay in the game.

Can you imagine if you lost 85% of your account?!!

You would have to make 566% on what you are left with in order to get back to break even!

Trust us, you do NOT want to be in that position. You’d start looking a lot like Cyclopip. Do you wanna look like Cyclopip? Didn’t think so!

Here is a chart that will illustrate what percentage you would have to make to breakeven if you were to lose a certain percentage of your account.

Loss of Capital % Required to get back to breakeven
10% 11%
20% 25%
30% 43%
40% 67%
50% 100%
60% 150%
70% 233%
80% 400%
90% 900%

You can see that the more you lose, the harder it is to make it back to your original account size. This is all the more reason that you should do everything you can to PROTECT your account.

By now, we hope you have gotten it drilled in your head that you should only risk a small percentage of your account per trade so that you can survive your losing streaks and also to avoid a large drawdown in your account.

Remember, you want to be the casino… NOT the gambler!

Reward-to-Risk Ratio

Another way you can increase your chances of profitability is to trade when you have the potential to make 3 times more than you are risking. If you give yourself a 3:1 reward-to-risk ratio, you have a significantly greater chance of ending up profitable in the long run.

Take a look at this chart as an example:

10 Trades Loss Win
1 $1,000  
2   $3,000
3 $1,000  
4   $3,000
5 $1,000  
6   $3,000
7 $1,000  
8   $3,000
9 $1,000  
10   $3,000
Total $5,000 $15,000

In this example, you can see that even if you only won 50% of your trades, you would still make a profit of $10,000. Just remember that whenever you trade with a good risk to reward ratio, your chances of being profitable are much greater even if you have a lower win percentage.

BUT…

And this is a big one, like Jennifer Lopez’s behind… setting large reward-to-risk ratio comes at a price. On the very surface, the concept of putting a high reward-to-risk ratio sounds good, but think about how it applies in actual trade scenarios.

Let’s say you are a scalper and you only wish to risk 3 pips. Using a 3:1 reward to risk ratio, this means you need to get 9 pips. Right off the bat, the odds are against you because you have to pay the spread.

If your broker offered a 2 pip spread on EUR/USD, you’ll have to gain 11 pips instead, forcing you to take a difficult 4:1 reward to risk ratio. Considering the exchange rate of EUR/USD could move 3 pips up and down within a few seconds, you would be stopped out faster than you can say “Uncle!”