AGGREGATE vs. ROI
When you start looking at the different ways in which trading results are analysed, you’ll notice that they fall into two broad categories, Aggregate Analysis and Return on Investment analysis. Most investment services use versions of Aggregate Analysis which is a slippery slope into results that are at best misleading, at worst, deceptive.
Let’s say, for example, that a service did one trade in the month. They make 10% on that trade. According to Aggregate Analysis, they would then claim that they had made 10% for the month. But did they?
In another instance a service does 4 trades for the month, averaging 10%. They claim, according to Aggregate Analysis, that they made 10% for the month. Really?
And probably the most common example is when they’re calculating yearly returns. Say they did 20 trades for the year and the sum of all those trades (that is, the return for each trade added together) was 100%. Their claim, according to Aggregate Analysis, was that they made 100% return for the year.
How most services report returns
So all Aggregate Analysis does (and this is where its name comes from) is add the results of the individual trades together. And you can understand why a service would do that – it’s not only simple but, most importantly, it shows off their performance in the best possible light. Hey, if you could do one trade and make 10% a month, why wouldn't you subscribe?
Because you haven’t actually made 10%, that’s why. Not in the way that most people would think about trading or investment returns. 10% return assumes that you allocated your whole account to that single trade - which of course is insane.
Let’s assume you have a bank of $10,000 and you’re risking 5% per trade because you’re trading options and options are risky. So that’s $500 maximum per trade. The trade makes 10% which is $50, so you’re out for $550.
What return did you make for the month?
$50 / $10,000 = 0.5%
No, you did not make $1,000, as the 10% return suggested you would. You only made 0.5% because, normally, returns are calculated based on the total investment. And your total investment wasn't just the $500 you put at stake for that particular trade, it was the entire $10,000 you have in your trading account, because while it’s sitting there in your trading account it isn't doing anything else. You can’t have it invested elsewhere earning money for you – it has to be in your trading account so you can practice proper money management and risk allocation.
How SteadyOptions reports returns?
We will always report our returns based on the whole account. The performance of the model portfolio reflects the growth of the entire account including the cash balance. Some services consider a $1,000 gain on a $1,000 investment to be a 100% return when the whole account is worth $10,000. We consider this to be a 10% return — and that is the honest way of doing the calculations.
We also always report performance based on the same allocation. Imagine a service making 3 trades per month and making 10% per trade. They would report 10% return. That means allocating 33% per trade. But wait - what if you need to adjust the trade? You absolutely need to keep at least 20% in cash for adjustments, so your real return is 8.0%. To add insult to injury, if they make only 2 trades in a certain month, they would still report 10% return. That means allocating 50% per trade. But how could you do that if you usually make 3 trades?
Our Steady Condors service has 2 trades each month and allocates 40% per trade, keeping 20% in cash. If each trade makes 10%, other services would report 10% monthly return. We would report 8% return because we kept 20% in cash. This is what we mean when we say "All Returns are on the whole account".
Over time, the difference is HUGE. Our returns are extremely underestimated compared to most other services.
There are a lot of other dirty tricks that some services use to push up their numbers. It might include reporting based on "maximum profit potential", calculating gains based on cash and not on margin etc. You can read my article Performance Reporting - The Myths And The Reality for full details.
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- Performance Reporting: The Myths and The Reality
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