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It Is Time to Get Real

A few days ago a one of the Steady Condors members asked if the past performance of Steady Condors was in line with our expectations, and would we expect it to perform better over time. His concern was that our real results are worse than the backtesting. My response was:

2012 and 2013 were in line with our long term profit target of 2-3% per month, but 2014 was a very difficult year for most condor traders. We know many services that actually blew out their clients accounts, but Steady Condors at least was able to limit the losses to reasonable amount, which allowed us to recover from the drawdown within the next 6 months. 2015 was obviously very good, producing 56.5% compounded yearly return. 2014 is the main reason why we are below the long term average. Statistically this not unexpected considering it is only 4 years of data.


But Jesse provided a much better explanation:


This has been on the FAQ page for quite a long time:


How much can I expect to make with your service?


Our objective is to make a living, not a killing. We like the story of the tortoise and the hare. Income trading is NOT an ATM machine, regardless of what other option based services are marketing to you. It’s hard and it takes discipline, experience, and a well thought out written plan on how to manage risk.  We believe markets aren't perfectly efficient, but they are a lot harder to beat over the long term than most people realize.  Our long term goal is to make an average of 15-25% annually on the whole account after trading costs (commissions and slippage). Options inherently provide leverage and substantial risk of loss when not used properly, and iron condors are no exception.  Many people mistakenly confuse the high probability of success (per trade) that iron condors offer with safety.   



Return data is useless without also analyzing risk. I expect SC to have a long-term Sharpe Ratio up to 1 (depending on future risk-free rate which is currently almost zero). Recognizing that this is a topic most people have never been educated on, let me explain. This will help you understand how to more properly analyze returns of different strategies that have different leverage and therefore different risk. A huge mistake that I see retail investors make over an over is only looking at returns. The Sharpe Ratio isn't perfect either, but it's certainly better than only reviewing returns and can give you a way to throw a giant red challenge flag on anyone claiming extraordinary returns.




Sharpe Ratio: Annualized return - risk free rate / annualized volatility


All you need is a track record of monthly returns to calculate a strategy's Sharpe Ratio. For your reference, 1 is exceptional, and you'll be hard pressed to find hardly any audited track records of any type that have maintained a Sharpe of 1 over a long period of time (10+ years). Yet people are desperate to believe in fairy tales and hope that they've found magic. If a newsletter is honest with you and tells you to "get real", many retail investors will just move on to the next one who will tell them whatever they want to hear in order to gain subscriptions. We'll tell you to get real here. And if you ever feel like we aren't, throw the challenge flag at us. It's why we have forums in order to have discussions. 


Steady Condors has had a Sharpe Ratio of about 1.3 since 2012 which is above long-term expectations. This is based on 19.8% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) and 14.6% annual volatility. With the expectations that Steady Condors will produce annualized volatility of around 20% over the long term, this would also land expected returns around 20%. 


Beware of anything that suggests a massive Sharpe ratio such as 3+ over a long period of time. That would basically qualify them for market wizard status that virtually nobody has achieved for the long-term. Often times you'll find this in a credit spread newsletter where the big loss just hasn't happened yet (it will), or the entire track record is hypothetical, which likely includes overfitting and/or excludes realistic transaction costs. Short volatility strategies like selling options with no risk management can sometimes go for a few years without being tested. Do yourself a favor next time you're looking at a track record and analyze both risk and return, and using the Sharpe Ratio is a great start and a way to possibly save yourself a lot of money.


Thank you Jesse for providing such great explanation!


At Steady Options, we are committed to promoting long term success to our members which starts with education on having realistic expectationsWe will continue telling people to "get real" and not what they want to hear because this is who we are.


On a related note, we are one of the few services that report performance on the whole account, not P/L on margin. For example, if we keep 20% of the account in cash and make $400 on $8,000 margin, we would report it as 4% return on $10,000 account. Most services would report it as 5% return. in the long term, it makes HUGE difference. We also include commissions in our reporting, which reduces the numbers by another ~0.3%/month. Always make sure to check how the service reports returns and compare apples to apples.


Let me know if you have any questions.


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Related Articles:
Why Retail Investors Lose Money In The Stock Market
Are You Ready For The Learning Curve?
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Performance Reporting: The Myths and The Reality
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