Beginners Guide To Forex Self-Trading
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I begin? Please give it to me SIMPLY.
1. The best advice on how to learn to trade profitably is to learn from experts with proven track records. Many learning styles are available to beginners at all levels: books, CDs, online courses, group seminars, even one-on-one mentors who will come right your home for a few days. We outline our Forex-Trader picks in Learning Forex Trading. Learning to trade from experts is worth every penny and has saved us untold thousands in mistakes. We would not recommend starting forex trading without any training. It is not hard to learn, nor difficult to trade successfully, but you must first provide yourself with a basic functioning knowledge of 'the game you're in'.
2. While you are learning you will need charting software to practice reading the Market. Charting is an indispensable tool that shows you in real-time data what the market is doing moment by moment and also what the market has done in the past. As you learn to analyze these charts you can determine what trades to enter and exit, where to set your stop losses, limits etc. There are several good charting software services that you can subscribe to online monthly. See our Forex-Trader tested Charting Software picks in Tools of The Trade.
3. Then, to perform your actual trades online you need a real-time 'trading platform' to execute your 'buys' and 'sells' directly in the Foreign Currency Market. You obtain a trading platform from a Forex Clearinghouse that is connected real-time to the interbank market. There are many good Clearinghouses (also confusingly called Brokerage Firms, Market Makers, etc.) that provide you with the trading platform to trade the funds in the account you have opened with them. Before you begin trading your 'real' money, while you are learning, you will practice on your own 'demo account' with play-money in it, which will be provided to you by the clearinghouse you plan to trade through. The contractual relationship you enter into with your Clearinghouse is a very important one because the Clearinghouse you choose determines many trading features and financial advantages to you both as a trader and as an investor. Forex-Trader tested Clearinghouses are reviewed in Tools of The Trade.
We have outlined a Getting Started path with uncomplicated steps. This is the path that we would take if we were beginning trading over again today with 'what we know now'. The products and services we mention in these steps are all ones that we have personally used for some time with consistent success. As always you are free to forge your own path, and if you do, happy hiking. There is a mountain of products and services try out, and if you find ones you like better we would love to compare notes with you.
Explain More About Charting Services
To trade successfully you also must have good charting software and instantaneous data feeds critical to helping you analysis and interpret the movement of currencies moment to moment so you know when/why to buy or sell -- this you subscribe to monthly. You can get a 2 week or more demo to familiarize yourself with one that has the features you like. The costs also vary, and some companies require a year commitment. There are some free charting services offered through the clearinghouses, but they tend to lack the tools to be truly useful. There are also some costly proprietary Specialty Software charting 'hybrids' which are market forecasters tools that look more like video games than charts.
Explain More About How Clearinghouses Work
A good clearinghouse (i.e.. your computer access/link to the live Forex Exchange Market) is the partner with which you trade the money you have deposited with them in your trading account. After trying and demo-ing many we have found a small handful that are truly excellent for the beginner (and continue to be excellent as you grow) -- meaning user friendly, legally accountable to regulatory bodies, and offering fair costs (spreads) for their services/trading software platforms. There still are many worrisome ones practicing in this closing era of unregulated forex trading (new Commodities laws are imminent).
The topic of matching the right clearinghouse for your needs is discussed more in Tools of the Trade, because it depends on a number of factors -- how much you can open an account with, how much the clearinghouse profit spread, what your liquidity needs are, your minimum/maximum stop loss and margin requirements, even where you live and how much time you have to give to trading in a 24 hr. day.
Does it Cost to Begin to Trade?
Learning to trade will entail the cost of books and whatever training method you choose. It will also include a reliable computer with a minimum 128 Mb of memory to run the charting software and trading platform. Ongoing 'costs of operation' include the monthly costs of high-speed internet, charting software, the email forecasting subscriptions -- plan on spending $150./mo. up for ongoing costs.
What about Pooled Clearinghouse Accounts to Trade with More Leverage?
do not recommend pooled accounts in any circumstance. Perhaps you are
considering self-trading a pooled- together family account because it would
give you a perceived advantage of more leveraged funds to trade (50:1 up to
100:1 leverage) -- any risks of loss represent a potential risk to family
relationships, and for this reason alone we do not recommend aggregating
with family or friends.
However much worse are the too-numerous negative experiences of people allowing their investment funds to leave their control to become part of a 'managed' pooled account. Not only is it a very risky investment idea, it is illegal for anyone to 'pool' accounts without compliance with SEC (a USA Securities Exchange Commission) or international equivalent license. Never relinquish direct control over your money/trading account to anyone (i.e.. the ability to make withdrawals, deposits etc. directly by your own authority into your own account).
A good fund manager, if you do choose to go the (legitimate) Managed Account route rather than the Self-Trader route, will make certain you have your own 'segregated account' in your own name in a bank or brokerage firm. These individual segregated accounts can still be traded together as though they were in a single account by a designated trader as long as the clearing house uses a trading platform that allows it. You, as the investor/account holder, have direct access online to your account activity at all times, and direct control over your own account in your own name (just like a bank account). The importance of this, for the safety of your funds, cannot be over emphasized.
Questions From Our Email Inbox
Thank you for inviting people to learn from your experience. I found that to be very generous. I was hoping you may be able to shed little light on just how to go about finding the right currency pairs to buy.
This is where charting software will make it self-evident for you to know what pairs are 'trending'. Technical analysis using charting software: Elliott Wave, Retracements, Fibonacci patterns, short term trending, etc. Good charting software is invaluable! Look at it as one of your 'costs of doing business'.
I have just begun learning how the FOREX works. There are so few opportunities for the lower economic class to achieve financial independence.
It took us a full year to learn to trade forex to achieve consistent profits, but well worth the time and effort. Forex trading can be the great leveler of the self-investor playing field. I and we believe that with dedication to sound, risk-management trading methods you can succeed.
I'm trying to build a financial base, but I just can't find a door in. Is it possible for me to participate directly in the FOREX with smaller amounts - like $1000?
Beginning with $1K. is more of a challenge and more of a risk (but not impossible). $1K represents 1 lot in Forex Trading, and that is the minimum (leveraged) trade that can be made. Perhaps that $1K would be better spent on trading education?
I have participated in Forex 'Games' and other types of online investments that claim to be investing in Foreign Currency (among other things), with returns of 50% a month and more. I actually did get paid. Opinions please?
We strongly urge you to resist any further temptation to send your money away to an investment-type pool (by this we mean do not send your money away to be under someone else's control and in someone else's account). It is unjustified risk, there are much better ways to begin to experience profits from forex trading. Many such online investments have totally disappeared into the Internet ethers from which they came. Typically these investments give no contact information, claiming to be 'offshore', 'for privacy reasons'. They last a few months, their bulletin boards or email newsletters extoll their climbing numbers of 'members' and pay-outs, then without warning their site goes off-line forever. And you never knew who they were that disappeared with your trust and your money or e-gold.
How do you forecast which currency is next in line to increase?
It is not so much that you want to know when any one currency is going up. You can make profits whether a currency is going up (buy), or down (sell). All Currencies are continually rising and falling relative to other currencies, and forex trading is in fact trading one currency relative to another. Good trading opportunities are always present when you know how to recognize them. Technical analysis using charting software, market sentiment, experience will show you which currencies to pair to trade. Forex Trading is a skill of identifying (and acting on) the probabilities.
you choose when to rollover or close positions?
analysis using charting software that (when you learn how to identify what
you are seeing) depicts resistance levels (how high it will likely rise to)
or support levels (how low it will likely stop dropping at). This is helpful
for determining whether to rollover the trade for a bigger forecasted profit
the next day. However, a rollover does have additional clearinghouse fees
attached. Quick in-and-out trades are closed intentionally with the goal of
a smaller profit gain (such as a 4 pip profit).
For example, Beginners, who are learning to read their charts, can do very well closing positions at whatever point they have gained +4 pips profit. This represents a $40. profit (in this example we are trading 1 lot Euro/USD, so 1 pip equals $10.). A $40./4 pip gain is a relatively small move on the chart and may not seem impressive until you consider that If you do this successfully 4 times a day you have made $160. profit. With 4 such daily trades in a four day trading week you will have made $640. (consider also that this is even without the magic of compounding). We leave the monthly and yearly calculations to you.
indicators do you utilize?
We have tried everything we could ever get our hands on. Over time we have selected the ones that are most consistent and well suited to our trading style. See our review of different indicator tools in Tools of the Trade. You will develop your own trading style (best times of day, favorite currency pairs, best instinctual moving-average chart pattern etc.). But experience with basic technical analysis using charting software is always the starting point. Then you add forex forecasting email subscriptions, Allan Greenspan's body language (no kidding) etc.
Are there any real time & reliable direct (commission free) market maker entry sites online?
Yes. It is not necessary to pay a clearinghouse (also known as a market maker, or forex brokerage house) an additional 'commission' for self-trading using their platform/services. They are usually compensated in the 'spread' between the buy price and sell price.
Tools of The Trade - Preparing to Trade
This is a collection of Forex "Tools of the Trade" -- products and services that we have found to be the best of all we have tried over many years, and additionally selected because the companies behind them have demonstrated reliable service, integrity and value. They are beginner-friendly, yet offering a growing trader lots of support. Look for the Forex-Trader discounts.
To trade Forex successfully you will need the basics:
1. A reliable, reasonably fast computer, preferably with high speed access to the internet (DSL or Cable Modem for example). An Internet dial-up account or the telephone becomes your back-up should your primary access fail.
2. Good foreign currencies "charting software" with a reliable, accurate data feed so that you can track currency movements in real time and perform the technical analysis necessary to trade effectively.
3. An on-line Forex trading account with a brokerage firm which provides a reliable Trading Platform, fair "spreads", quick execution of trades, good on-line reporting, and excellent customer service.
4. A subscription to at least one Forex Trading "Advisory Service" which provides market overviews at least daily. This gives you the context and overall directions of the market and will greatly assist in your own analysis and decision making.
Most importantly, you will need effective training and/or mentoring to master the techniques and discipline which 90 percent of beginning traders lack. This can be home study via cd's or on-line lessons, classes you travel to, or trainer/mentors who come to you.
Specially Configured for Trading.
There are many good choices for computer hardware. Over the last 6 years we have come to rely on consumer-poll-leader MicronPC to provide reliable hardware and great customer support. Their technical support is available 7 days a week and 24 hours per day and it is actually quick and friendly. We have made a special arrangement with MicronPC to provide substantial discounts to Forex-Trader referrals. Click the link below to see four configurations with detailed information and directions on how to order and receive a discount averaging hundreds of dollars off the price you would pay if you went directly to the Micron website and configured the same machine.
Trading Hardware For the Consummate Trader.
This is the Quintessence of Trading Computers.
TriKinetic is the only computer manufacturer dedicated exclusively to building trading computer solutions backed by lifetime technical support for the serious trader for whom downtime is not an option. With over 5 years experience and key relationships with the trading industry players, TriKinetic is a leader in complete 'Plug-n-Trade' (turnkey) trade stations.
This charting software by Townshend Analytics professional charting software, works with a variety of data sources such as Comstock by Standard and Poors, Infotek etc. We use Comstock data for its Realtick is available by the month, a nice startup cost feature for beginners.
3. TRADING PLATFORMS Clearinghouses Providing On-line Access to the Forex Trading Market.
Forex Capital Markets LLC A few the many reasons that we have been with FXCM
the longest (and happiest) of the many Trading Clearinghouses we've tried --
they are commission-free and offer individual client accounts which are
viewable online, their trading platform has the most efficient execution,
with trader-friendly spreads and policies for both beginners and advanced
traders with either large or small accounts. With an eye to coming
regulations they voluntarily registered with U.S. regulatory agencies to
demonstrate client assurance of safety through compliance with Securities
A Word of Experience:
FXCM Charting software is free with a demo or live account, although useful it is not as complete as professional charting software. Also, their 'Mini-Account' might seem like a good start for a cautious beginner, however we have experienced much safer and more profitable trading results by learning to trade on their free demo account then, when ready, going 'live' with a 'full-size' trading account.
Trading Advisors are the esteemed 'Forecasters' of the Forex Trading Industry, experts who predict upcoming market moves based on experience, technical analysis and a host of other indicators.
Forex Advisor - Live Trading Advisory
This advisory service is one we are enjoying more everyday, naturally first because of its value and consistently profitable returns month after month with truly excellent risk management protocols. But also because this system is the ultimate in 'live coached trading'. This advisory teaches you risk-safe, consistently successful, profitable trading strategies -- one live session at a time.
A professional trader does all the analysis and posts charts and how-tos online on a leading edge proprietary Live Trading Platform while calling real-time trades with specific entry, exits and stop loss points.
Max's Forex Trader Advisory
This twice-daily Trading Research email advisory service heralds the opening the European Trading Market and later in the day the opening of the Asian Trading Market with market analysis, related insights, movements to watch for, and trading suggestions. Written by Max, the esteemed forex trader from New Zealand, whose passion for, and intimate knowledge of the foreign currency exchange is a good marriage.
SPECIALIZED TRADING ANALYSIS SOFTWARE
An intriguing 'Wheel of Fortune' compass design displays and forecasts the trends, reversals, etc. of the forex market via sophisticated algorithms. It gives clear buy and sell signals, and continuously displays its trading profit history related to its predications. Subscribe to it monthly per currency pair, or subscribe to all currencies.