SteadyOptions is an options trading forum where you can find solutions from top options traders. TRY IT FREE!

We’ve all been there… researching options strategies and unable to find the answers we’re looking for. SteadyOptions has your solution.

Why Iron Condors are NOT an ATM machine


We closed today our Steady Condors March trades for an average gain of 7.5% before commissions, or 5.8% return on the whole account after commissions. We don't promise you some absurd numbers like 10%/month or 5%/week, but we are proud to report performance in the most honest and transparent way possible. I will explain later how our performance reporting is different from other newsletters, but let me start by quoting Jesse Blom's post on the forum.

Steady Condors first goal is to manage risk and to prevent big losses.

 

Nice recovery!

 

"Another nice month for those who have hung in there with Steady Condors. Good job, Kim, and to those of you who are sticking with it. And a good opportunity to share some things about the limitations of a relatively small sample size of live trading and backtesting...

 

A lot of people bailed on Steady Condors last year because of a drawdown and losing year. Think about it this way:

 

What if the only data you had access to on the S&P was since 2009? You'd have returns of 26%, 15%, 2%, 16%, 32%, and 14% (rounded). That would obviously be a very misleading sample to draw conclusions from. The disclaimer of "past performance does not guarantee future results" is not just a legal requirement, but a true statement. Past performance does matter, but it's NOT the limitations of what is possible.

 

I posted this on the LCD forum last week from Ben Graham: "The essence of investment management is the management of risk, not the management of returns."

 

You can't control returns, only manage risk 

 

I really dislike when people make trading sound like if you are really good at it you somehow have control over your returns. The only thing you can do is build a winning strategy (better yet, multiple winning strategies with low correlation) and then manage your risk and position size so that you stay in the game long enough to let your edge work out over the long term. But a lot of people will make ridiculous claims in order to sell a product with no accountability to a regulatory body like I have to deal with as an investment advisor.

 

And you must have realistic expectations and a proper mindset which I believe is:

  1. Selling options and iron condors can be a very good strategy when the risk management is robust. With most of the services out there it's not, and if their track record doesn't have a big loss in it, it probably just hasn't happened yet. Selling OTM options and then rolling losses forward is incredibly misleading to the uninformed. No different than the S&P example above to where if we extended the sample size by one year to 2008 you add in the second worst year in history where many people locked in devastating losses to their portfolio because they never considered it possible for markets to go down that far and fear took over. Those unaware of history are doomed to repeat it. It will happen again, we just don't know when. The S&P has experienced two 50%+ drawdowns since 2000 and a max drawdown of over 80%.
  2. Selling options and iron condors can add value and diversification to your portfolio. They aren't the holy grail. Just like everything else.
  3. Your maximum drawdown is ahead of you, not behind you. We do have a limited sample size with Steady Condors, that's obviously why I brought up the S&P example. The reality is that backtesting complex options strategies is a LOT of work and sufficient option data just really doesn't exist for us to go back much farther than what we have displayed. Many drew too many conclusions about the future of steady condors based on limited past data. Again, have realistic expectations."

a046035fd62494d74c6bc22859102422.jpeg

 

There is a lot of wisdom in Jesse's post.

 

And now I would like to explain how Steady Condors performance reporting is different from most other services.

 

We report returns on the whole portfolio including commissions

 

What does it mean?

 

When you trade Iron Condor (or any other options strategy), you NEVER can allocate 100% of the account to the trades. You always need to leave some cash reserve in case you need to adjust. This cash reserve usually varies from 15% to 30%.

 

Lets assume cash reserve of 20% and see how we would report the performance.

 

Our 20k unit has two trades each month (RUT and SPX). With 20% cash, we allocate ~$8,000 per trade. If both trade made 5%, that means $400 per trade or $800 total for the two trades. In our track record, you will see 800/20,000=4%. Other services will report it as 5% (average of the two trades). In addition, our returns will always include commissions. If you see 5% return in the track record, that means that $100,000 account grew to $105,000. Plain and simple.

 

To see how this method can have dramatic impact on the performance, let's examine a hypothetical service that claims to make 10%/month and have up to 3 trades.

 

With 3 trades, it is reasonable to allocate 25% per trade and leave 25% in cash. If all 3 trades made 10%, they would report 10% return (average of all trades). However, the return on the whole portfolio is 7.5%, not 10%. That's before commissions, which might take another 1-1.5% from the total return. If they have only 2 trades, and both made 10%, they would still report 10%, while a real return is 5% (half), and even less after commissions. There are months where they might have only 1 trade, but if that trade made 10%, they would still report 10%, although the real return was 2.5%.

 

Another point worth mentioning is rolling. If you look at some services, you might see few last months of data missing. That would usually mean that the trades were losing money and have been rolled for few months, to hide losses. In some cases, the unrealized losses can reach 25-50%. You will never see those losses in their track record.

 

It is very important to know how returns are reported, in order to make a real comparison. Always make sure to compare apples to apples.

 

 

Related Articles:
Can you double your account every six months?
Can you really make 10% per month with Iron Condors?

Should You Leg Into Iron Condor?
Exiting An Iron Condor Trade
Iron Condor Adjustments: How And When
Iron Condor Adjustment: Can I "Roll" It Forever?
Is Your Iron Condor Really Protected?

 

Click here to read how Steady Condors is different from "traditional" Iron Condors.

What Is SteadyOptions?

Full Trading Plan

Complete Portfolio Approach

Diversified Options Strategies

Exclusive Community Forum

Steady And Consistent Gains

High Quality Education

Risk Management, Portfolio Size

Performance based on real fills

Try It Free

Non-directional Options Strategies

10-15 trade Ideas Per Month

Targets 5-7% Monthly Net Return

Visit our Education Center

Recent Articles

Articles

  • A Global Equity Put Write Portfolio

    Many that sell equity market put options focus on the S&P 500 (SPX, XSP, SPY). Some will add small caps by selling puts on the Russell 2000 (RUT, IWM). An investor could also make their put selling strategy globally diversified by adding MSCI EAFE (EFA) and Emerging Markets (EEM).

    By Jesse,

    • 0 comments
    • 200 views
  • The Random Walk Hypothesis

    The “random walk hypothesis” (RWH) is one idea about how stock prices behave – but only one of many. It is a theory promoted in academia and believed in my many, but not so much by traders involved with handling real money. Theories aside, is the market truly random?

    By Michael C. Thomsett,

    • 0 comments
    • 279 views
  • How To Trade Options Successfully

    I’ve now been trading options for over a decade and been associated with Steady Options for seven years – hard to believe.  Over that period, I’ve learned quite a bit about option trading; how to improve, what not to do, and generally how the option markets work. I’m still learning.

    By cwelsh,

    • 3 comments
    • 528 views
  • January 2019 Performance Analysis

    No one likes losing money, and no one likes hearing "excuses". However, in an effort to be fully transparent, solicit feedback, and to improve our own performance, we're writing this article to do a further breakdown of the losses which our model portfolio incurred in January 2019. 

    By Kim,

    • 17 comments
    • 1,322 views
  • Island Clusters as Strong Reversals

    Options traders constantly seek the elusive reliable reversal signal. A few unusual but strong reversals are worth looking for, and their patterns reveal likely exceptional timing for opening or closing option trades. One example of this exceptionally strong signal is the island cluster (or, island reversal).

    By Michael C. Thomsett,

    • 0 comments
    • 357 views
  • What’s Wrong With Your 401(k)? (If anything)

    There currently are over sixty million Americans that are active 401(k) participants, and well over 500,000 total active 401(k) plans offered by employers in the United States.  Despite these high numbers, usages could be higher, as the US Census Bureau estimates that only 41% of all employees with access to a 401(k) plan utilize it, with even less funding it fully.

    By cwelsh,

    • 0 comments
    • 439 views
  • Upcoming Decay of Options

    I am on the hunt for a short volatility position for three main reasons. First, the market’s wild swings have, for the time being at least, diminished. Second, option activity has dried up as my options barometer continues to be stuck in the 4 – 6 range as traders are not making big bets in either direction.

    By Jacob Mintz,

    • 0 comments
    • 521 views
  • The Scientific Process of Increasing Expected Returns

    For many US investors, the "base case" for equity investing is US large cap stocks, most commonly benchmarked as the S&P 500. You could absolutely do far worse than owning these 500 great US companies, and the weight of the evidence suggests that most actively managed mutual funds that benchmark themselves against the S&P 500 index have in fact done worse.

    By Jesse,

    • 0 comments
    • 906 views
  • Those Golden and Death Crosses

    The use of moving average (MA) for predicting future price behavior must be undertaken cautiously. MA is a lagging indicator, so the question must be: Can a lagging indicator provide guidance for the future? Yes. The use of two MA lines and how they interact is a reliable form of reversal indicator.

    By Michael C. Thomsett,

    • 0 comments
    • 633 views
  • Trading Reverse Iron Condors When IV Is Elevated

    Our members know that pre earnings straddles and calendars have been our bread and butter strategies in the recent years. We enter those trades when the prices are cheap compared to previous cycles. However, in the last few months of 2018, Implied Volatility exploded, making most of those trades too expensive.

    By Kim,

    • 0 comments
    • 706 views

  Report Article

We want to hear from you!


Thank you for this Kim.  With limited backtesting available, at what point would you stick with a strategy after a period of consecutive drawdowns?  Two recent examples come to mind: the SPY Ratio Diagonal, and the non-directional ES mini strategy.  Both had about 2 or 3 years of backtesting, and both have been discontinued.  Any thoughts?

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thee are many factors involved here.

The SPY diagonal was discountinued because Chris reached conclusion that the drawdown is too big and it's time to stop the pain. He provided more details on the forum.

The futures strategy was probably not refined enough for market corrections, but overall return was still positive even after two negative months.

When you see that the strategy doesn't work anymore, you stop it. This is not the case with SC. The losses least year were due to special market conditions. A lot of condor services struggled in 2014. In fact, I know at least two who lost 90% of the capital.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kim and Jesse,

 

This is what separates you guys from the other disingenuous companies out there.  You are honest and you are building the foundation of a service to last 20+ years, not 3.

 

Thanks.

 

Richard

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites


Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account. It's easy and free!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

Options Trading Blogs