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Found 49 results

  1. Mark Wolfinger

    Learn First. Trade Later

    I received this very upsetting note yesterday. Dear Mark, I read in your book about volatility as one of the important factors of the price of an option I have a few question about, what you wrote. Implied Volatility vs. Future Volatility 1) In your book you say that volatility is unknown and different traders can get different values… but I have account with 3 brokers and they show the same (or very similar price) for the volatility… Future volatility is unknown. However, the market makers must make some volatility estimate or else they would be unable to establish bid and ask quotes. Your brokers are showing the IMPLIED VOLATILITY (IV) OF THE OPTIONS. They do not make estimates for the future volatility. They use the implied volatility because that is the best current estimate for future volatility. And that estimate changes, depending on many factors, including order flow (supply and demand). IV is often the best value we can use – unless you want to make your own estimate – and I doubt you want to try that. By definition IV is the volatility estimate that makes the fair value of any option equal to whatever price it is trading at in the marketplace. I was writing about people who make their own volatility estimates. They are the ones who cannot agree on what the volatility estimate should be and they are the traders who have different opinions on the value of an option. Those are the traders who could believe an option to be over- or under-valued in the marketplace. Not the brokers. They do not have an opinion. You will probably never make an estimate, but others can and do. You and I usually trade based on the assumption that the current IV and the current option prices represent fair value. But we can decide to go longer short vega, based on the current ‘fair value’ if we believe it is too high or too low. You can trade volatility if you so desire. Selling Leveraged ETFs Options 2) Since a lot of volatility, means that I can sell “expensive” options, doesn’t it make sense to sell options on Leveraged ETFs, such as FAS or FAZ, that have a lot of volatility? NO. If the underlying asset is VOLATILE then the underlying asset will undergo big price changes. If you sell options on stocks that make BIG MOVES, there is a good chance that the options will move ITM and that you will lose money. To compensate for the risk of selling options on volatile stocks (or ETFs), the options are priced higher. In other words, you get a higher premium, but that premium is justified. Your question frightens me. The pricing of options is a very basic concept. It may not be easy for us to know whether an option’s price is fair, but we have to accept the fact that the option premium that we see is the premium we can trade. If we choose to sell that premium, we do so believing that we have an edge. Volatile stocks have options with a high premium. Non-volatile stocks have options that carry much smaller premium. Surely you know that is true. When the stocks are volatile, option buyers are willing to pay higher prices because there is a decent chance the stock will undergo a significant price change that favors the option buyer (assuming he correctly bought puts or calls). Low-volatile stocks trade with much smaller premium because they are not likely to move far. People do not pay much for options when there is a high probability that the stock price will not vary too much during the lifetime of the option.. You must understand this. There is no way you can survive if this concept is not understood. Selling high-priced options because they are high-priced is foolish. The options carry a higher premium for a reason. What we want to do – and it is quite difficult – is to sell options when the implied volatility is higher than the future volatility of the stock will be. In other words, option buyers are paying for future volatility of the underlying. If that underlying asset is less volatile than expected, then we collected more premium than our risk deserved. Thus, we stand to profit over the longer term. But we do not know the future and we do not KNOW which options are priced too high. The bottom line is: It is wrong to believe that you can earn more money by selling options on volatile stocks or a leveraged ETF. You cannot trade options if you do not understand this principle. and last question Should I Use Portfolio Margin? 3) Do you think that a “portfolio margin” account, with more leverage, is a good idea? I would use all the leverage to sell options with 95% or more chance to expire worthless (and with the 5% I either get assigned, or roll out). Is this plan too risky? Portfolio margin allows traders to take a lot more risk. Reg T margin is far more limiting. I prefer Reg T margin because it removes the temptation for a trader to get in over his head. Yes, a lot more risk. If you are positive that you can handle the risk; if you are certain that you will NEVER, EVER allow yourself to have too much exposure to a big loss; if you are already a consistently profitable trader; if you are disciplined and will not use all available margin (above, you suggest that you would use all available leverage), or anywhere near all of it; then maybe you can use portfolio margin. But not now. Not if you do not understand the most elementary concept mentioned above. Let’s examine your question. You want to sell 5-delta options and expect to win 95% of the time. You plan to roll out or accept assignment on the 5% of the trades that end up with your short option being in the money. If that is true, then the plan is to hold all shorts until they expire worthless. All by itself that adds to risk. Some of those short options will be worth covering before they expire – just to minimize risk. You also must understand that you will not win 95% of the time unless your plan is to hold through expiration and not apply any risk management. But if you plan to roll out some trades that are not working, that already tells you that the 95% success expectation is just too high. Many times you will get too frightened to hold the trade and be forced to cover because even rolling out will leave you with a dangerous position. Consider this: You will not like the size of any loss. When you sell an option at a low price, it becomes very difficult for the undisciplined trader to pay 10 times as much to cover the short. Rolling out will not help. If your plan is to roll to a new 5-delta option, that will be a costly roll. If you plan to roll out for even money, then the short option will have a delta much higher than 5, and you will be taking more risk than your plan calls for. Please consider all aspects of your plan before taking action. So will you do it? Will you have the discipline to cover your shorts and lock in a good-sized loss? If the answer is not ‘ABSOLUTELY, YES’ then you cannot afford to use portfolio margin. Nor can you expect to make money by selling 5-delta options. That strategy is viable only for the disciplined (and experienced) trader. In my opinion, selling those low-delta options is not a good plan. There will be a day when those 5-delta options KILL you. It will not occur too often, and it will not necessarily come soon, but that day will arrive. There will be a big gap opening with a huge IV increase. There will be a day when those options you sold for 40 cents or one dollar will be trading at $20. At that point, the option’s delta easily could be between 35 and 60. Your account will be in deficit and you will be forced to buy back all of those options and your account will be worthless and you will owe your broker hundreds of thousands of dollars. If that sounds bad, the reality is even worse. The bid ask spreads would get very wide and your broker will buy those options by entering market orders. They will not ask your permission. You would be blocked from trading and your positions would be closed. Thus, you would not only pay that exorbitant implied volatility, but you would pay the ask price on a wide market. See for yourself. Lower the underlying price by 20%, double IV and see how much those options are worth And doubling IV may not be enough. IV is so are low right now that tripling of IV is a reasonable possibility. DO NOT DO THIS. No portfolio margin, and more importantly, if you do sell 5-delta options, you MUST watch position size. That is most important. I know that you do not want to believe that these warnings apply to you. But they do. I wish you well. But you scare me. Mark Mark Wolfinger has been in the options business since 1977, when he began his career as a floor trader at the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE). Since leaving the Exchange, Mark has been giving trading seminars as well as providing individual mentoring via telephone, email and his premium Options For Rookies blog. Mark has published four books about options. His Options For Rookies book is a classic primer and a must read for every options trader. Mark holds a BS from Brooklyn College and a PhD in chemistry from Northwestern University.
  2. Trading Drawdowns Peter Brandt explains: "There is a statistical concept known as the “underwater curve.” The underwater curve plots the time periods when new all-time high NAV levels are being registered (represented by “0” on an underwater curve) and the time periods in which drawdowns are either underway or in recovery back toward new all-time NAV levels. Most successful long-term traders are underwater the majority of time. Welcome to trading!" You are in a drawdown state 80% of the time and of that, you are in a severe drawdown state (greater than -20%) 67% of the time Did you know that Warren Buffett has had multiple 30-50% drawdowns in his career? Yet he is considered one of the greatest investors of all times. False claims by wolves in sheep’s clothing Peter continues: "Successful market speculation is one of the most challenging endeavors one can pursue. Yet, promoters of get-rich- quick-and-easy schemes run rampant in the email and internet worlds. If they are not registered with the SEC, FINRA or the CFTC/NFA or are not personally managing assets of investors they are free to make exaggerated claims. Their advertising is extremely appealing and enticing. Many of these training and trade signaling services claim to have REAL trading track records. But, as far as I am able to determine, none are willing to provide an attestation or audit letter from a national or regional auditing firm that has reconciled their IRS tax payments for trading profits, brokerage statements and bank deposits with their public claims." This is so true. Here are some of the claims I have seen from those promoters: I turned $12,415 Into $4,155,000 trading penny stocks. 2,062% Weekly Option Gain. Turn $3,000 Into $100,000 in 4 months. I made 29,233% in 12 months trading high flying Internet stocks. We averaged 127.16% Per Month trading credit spreads. We guarantee that our options trading strategies will make you profitable every month. 99% of my recent 326 stock picks have been winners. Trading $150,000 into $650,000 in 8 months. How Jack turned $250 into $16,000 in Just One Month. +9,651.04% day trading return since Jan. 4 2016. Of course none of them has ever provided any proof of those returns. As Bloomberg article correctly concluded, their self-promotional strategies have made them richer than trading ever did. Some of those guys claim they live in mansions worth tens of millions, trade tens of millions in their personal account, but at the same time sell trading advisories for $50-100/month. Does it make sense to you? Many times they specifically mention (in fine print) that their performance based on "HYPOTHETICAL OR SIMULATED PERFORMANCE RESULTS". Does it mean anything when they don't actually trade? Red flags to Watch in Alert Services Moneyshow listed 10 Red Flags to Watch in an Options Alert Service. Here are some of them: The service doesn’t have any losing trades. The service won’t show you their closed trades. The trades have huge risk. The service inflates their ROI numbers. No detailed track record is posted. The performance is not based on real trades. Here is another HUGE red flag: If the promoter keeps bragging that he lives in a multi million mansion, drives a Lamborghini and has a private jet, run away. Really successful traders are modest and humble. They don't need all this BS. There are also a lot of ways to inflate your track record numbers, as I described in my article Performance Reporting: The Myths And The Reality. Some of them include: Basing performance on "Maximum profit potential". Calculating gains based on cash and not on margin Presenting "Cumulative return". Holding losing positions indefinitely. Resetting past returns after a large drawdown. And more. Those who want to find out more details about some of those scammers, I highly recommend reading real and objective reviews by Emmett Moore from tradingschools.org. Emmett also describes how some of them game the system and make their profits look real. Fascinating read, highly recommended. SteadyOptions lists all its trades on our performance page, winners and losers. The details of all trades are available on the forum with screenshots of our fills and can be verified with historical prices. Van Tharp says successful trading/investing is 60% psychology...only 60%? Humans desperately want to believe there is a way to make money with no or little risk. That’s why Bernie Madoff existed, and it will never change. Best luck with your investments. Related articles: Can you double your account every six months? How to Calculate ROI in Options Trading Performance Reporting: The Myths and The Reality Why Retail Investors Lose Money In The Stock Market Are You Ready For The Learning Curve? Are You EMOTIONALLY Ready To Lose? Trading Drawdowns by Peter Brandt Winning Trades and Losing Trades by Peter Brandt Want to learn how to trade successfully while reducing the risk? Start Your Free Trial
  3. So I decided to check out one of the services reporting those remarkable returns. "Cumulative return"? Really? This service makes one trade per week, using weekly options expiring the same day. The way they present their results is "cumulative performance". They simply add the results of the individual trades together. While technically this is correct, does it mean anything? Would you be comfortable placing your whole portfolio into one weekly trade? When a newsletter claims a 1,000% return for the year, wouldn't you assume that if you started the year with $10,000 and invested in all the recommendations given on the site, they would now have $100,000? But this is not the case. A lot of services calculate their yearly return by adding together all the individual returns on each trade recommended for the year. 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 just four trades per month and make 100% a month, why wouldn't you subscribe? Because you haven’t actually made 100%, that’s why. Not in the way that most people would think about trading or investment returns. In case of the described service, since those weekly trades are very risky, there is a significant amount of 100% losers. So realistically, you should not allocate more than 2% per trade with this strategy, and even this is a stretch. Are those returns live? To add insult to injury, it turns out that the website went public only in January 2015, but they present track record going back to October 2012. They assume (rightfully) that nobody in his right mind would pay over $1k/year for a service that exists only 3 months, but 2.5 years looks better, doesn't it? Of course the track record cannot be verified because the service did not even exist in 2012-2014, but how many people would be checking this? Humans desperately want to believe there is a way to make money with no or little risk. That’s why Bernie Madoff existed, and it will never change. You should always check if the reported results are live or backtested, by asking the services provider and/or checking the website creation date. The correct way to report returns SteadyOptions 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. SO considers this to be a 10% return — and that is the honest way of doing the calculations. 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. Still skeptical? Why not to take the SteadyOptions free trial and see by yourself how we are different from other services. Please refer to Frequently Asked Questions for more details about us. Related articles Can you double your account every six months? How to Calculate ROI in Options Trading Performance Reporting: The Myths and The Reality
  4. Background An Anchor trade's goal is to prevent loss of capital while still generating a positive return in most market conditions. This strategy began with the premise that it must be possible to hedge against market losses without sacrificing all upside potential. The Anchor strategy's primary objective is to produce positive returns on an annual basis. How? Step 1 - Purchase ETF's highly correlated to the S&P 500 Step 2 - Fully hedge with S&P 500 put options Step 3 - Earn back the cost of the hedge over the course of a year You can read the full description here. Performance Since the strategy went live in 2012, Anchor has produced an 11.5% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) with 9.1% volatility, resulting in a 1.27 Sharpe Ratio. You can see the full performance here. In the same period of time, the S&P 500 index (including dividends) produced a 14.5% CAGR, with 10.7% volatility, resulting in a 1.36 Sharpe Ratio. Anchor has met its performance goal of lagging the S&P 500 by up to three percent in positive markets. Anchor performance includes commissions and fees. Since you cannot buy the S&P 500 directly, real life performance of your investment in S&P 500 will be reduced by commissions and fees, so the real life difference will be probably closer to two percent. Observations The S&P 500 has substantially outperformed it's long term average CAGR and Sharpe Ratio since 2012. It historically has a Sharpe Ratio of about 0.3 going back to 1926, yet has a Sharpe Ratio in excess of 1.3 since 2012. One universal principle in markets is reversion to the mean, which will eventually catch up to the S&P 500. The Anchor strategy could have potentially preserved capital during crisis periods such as 2008. In real trading, you can get a feel for how the option hedge can protect your portfolio by looking at August 2015 and January 2016, where the S&P 500 was down 5-6% while Anchor avoided losses. The goal of the Anchor strategy is to provide protection from bear markets and unpredictable surprise events. The S&P 500 has experienced four years of negative performance since 2000, for a cumulative loss of more than 80%, and multi standard deviation downside price shocks occur much more frequently than probability distributions predict. The day following "Brexit", the S&P 500 moved 4.7 standard deviations which is expected to occur less than once a century based on probability distributions, yet there has been close to 50 one day losses of 4 standard deviations or more since 1950. Markets can't be contained to probability distributions or academic theories, just ask Long Term Capital Management. The strategy is continuously being improved. For example, we switched from 2 week short options to 3 weeks. That has materially improved results, and would also have improved backtested results. Conclusion The impact of minimizing or potentially even avoiding losses in down markets should not be overlooked both mathematically and psychologically. Consider the following table, which displays the gain required to recover a prior loss. The key to the success of the strategy is combining exposure to market gains while permanently hedging against downside risk. The strategy is designed to participate in most of the market's upside while avoiding most of the market's downside. Easier said than done, but we are certainly pleased with the results to date on both a relative and absolute basis. Is the Anchor Strategy the Holy Grail? The answer is NO - in fact, no single strategy is. But we continue to improve the strategy designed to give investors the courage they need to invest confidently in the stock market for the long term. Start Your Free Trial
  5. Colibri Trader

    4 Levels of Trading Experience

    So, let’s have a deeper look into those options trading experience levels and what they really are. Level 1- The Beginner This stage starts when you realize there is a way to make money while staying at home. At this stage you are probably neither aware of the dangers of trading nor of where to start looking to understand trading. In this stage you are full of enthusiasm and want to conquer the world. In this stage, you are starting to realise that more money can be made through leverage and you underestimate all of the dangers that trading on margin carries. This is the stage that probably 20-30% of “traders” are quitting. Level 2- The Student The second level of trading is the learning period. In this period, you are trying to lay your hands on literally everything that is trading related. This is anything from trading articles, free e-books, hard-copy books to paid courses. You are starting to realize what an immense field trading is and how difficult to grasp it is. In this level of trading you realize that you need to choose the right trading strategy. This should be a strategy that preferably fits your personality. You start asking yourself questions like: Should I be a day trader? Maybe, I will be better off as a long-term position trader or swing-trader. What would be the best strategy to fit in my daily agenda. This is the level where you are also asking yourself- can I do this part time, or I should quite my job to start trading full-time. This is also the level of trading in which you are jumping from one trading strategy to another. You are too eager to realise that one of your trading buddies has just mastered a different trading approach and you are too excited to try it out. The trader inside of you is not really paying attention to money management or risk management. You just want to make “big bucks” and preferably quick. This is also the stage that probably 30-40% of the “traders” are dropping out. Level 3- Tenbagger Trader “Tenbagger” is a term introduced by the famous investor Peter Lynch. It is usually used to describe an investment that grows ten-fold. This is the level of trading, in which a trader has finally mastered how to hold a position longer. He/she are not making the same silly mistakes that they used to before. Now is the time to really shine and start bragging in front of your colleagues and friends. Maybe time has come for you to consider quitting your boring job and working full-time as a trader. Or maybe you can send your track record to one of the prop trading houses and ask to join them. The world is your oyster and you are asking yourself how come you did not start trading earlier in your life. You are tapping yourself on the shoulder and start thinking if time has come to consider other types of investments. Maybe you can re-invest; or possibly you can find another hobby. This is the level of trading in which you are asking yourself the question if you should start your own trading blog and share your strategy. It is all great until you wake up one morning and you realize that you were exposed too heavily and received a margin call. You feel like it is the worst day in your life. You want to cry (and you probably do) and start blaming yourself how stupid you were. This is the level of trading, in which you are releasing how important risk/money management is and how underestimated in your trading strategy it was. This is also a stage in which another 20-30% will call it a day. Level 4- The Five Percenters (a.k.a. 5%ers) 15 years ago I read somewhere that only 5% of traders really make it. I am not sure whether this percentage is right or is more like 0.5%. What is really true is that only a fraction of traders do really make it to this level of trading experience. Reaching this level does not mean that you will never fall back. There is no guarantee that you will be a 5%er forever. It means though that you have learnt the ropes of trading and know how to manoeuvre in the deep waters of this ocean. Being a 5%er means that you have showed stronger character than the majority of other players and you can finally tap yourself on the shoulder. But you don’t do it. You don’t do it, because you have learnt the hard way that the more you brag about it or the more excited you become can bode only one thing- losing your 5%er status. Being a great trader is not a natural talent. It is a skill that traders develop over the years. Being a 5%er means that you not only know where to take profit; more important than that- you know where to cut a losing trade. This level of trading teaches you that to know how to live in the unknown. Trading on this level means that you can watch the screen and still be objective. Being a 5%er means that you can hold a bit longer until price finally reaches your target. On this level of trading you are not thinking about trading systems anymore. You have turned into a risk:reward calculator and a pattern-recognition machine. You are never again afraid of not taking this or that trade. At the same time, you are never too afraid to enter in a trade slightly later. You are just a master trader. CONCLUSION What is your level of trading? Are you sure trading is for you? Trading is a field that makes you or breaks you. Every day is different and you need to be flexible enough to understand that. In this article I shared some of my thoughts about trading in 4 levels. Sometimes being a beginner is closer to the 5%er than you think. Feel free to share your comments in the section below. About the author: Colibri Trader is a price action trader that is constantly looking for the apha. In the meantime, he does not forget to enjoy life, travel and even mentor other traders. This article was originally published here.
  6. Performance Dissected Check out the Performance page to see the full results. Please note that those results are based on real fills, not hypothetical performance, and exclude commissions, so your actual results will be lower. Commissions reduce the monthly returns by approximately 1-2% per month, depending on the broker and number of trades. As with every trading system which uses multi leg trades, commissions will have a significant impact on performance, so it is very important to use a cheap broker. We have extensive discussions about brokers and commissions on the Forum (like this one) and help members to select the best broker. Commissions reduce the monthly returns by approximately 2% per month, depending on the broker. Please refer to How We Calculate Returns? for more details. 2017 was probably our most consistent and steady year. Our strategies SteadyOptions uses a mix of non-directional strategies: earnings plays, Iron Condors, Calendar spreads etc. We constantly adding new strategies to our arsenal, based on different market conditions. SO model portfolio is not designed for speculative trades although we might do some in the speculative forum. SO is not a get-rich-quick-without-efforts kind of newsletter. I'm a big fan of the "slow and steady" approach. I aim for many singles instead of few homeruns. My first goal is capital preservation instead of doubling your account. Think about the risk first. If you take care of the risk, the profits will come. Looking at specific strategies, pre-earnings calendars were our best performing strategy, producing 13.8% average return with 84% winning ratio. We will continue trading what works the best and adapt to the market conditions. What's New? We continue expanding the scope of our trades beyond the earnings trades, Iron Condors and calendars. We are now trading SPY, TLT, VIX, VXX and other ETFs to diversify the portfolio. We will continue refining those strategies to get even better results. This gives members a lot of choice and flexibility. We launched a PureVolatility portfolio that trades exclusively VIX based products. It is currently included as bonus in SteadyOptions subscription. We have implemented some improvements to the straddle strategy that reduces risk and enhances returns. We introduced a Mentoring Program where experienced members help newer members to get up to speed. The mentors provide guidance and answer questions on the forum. We introduced an "Unofficial Trades" forum where veteran members share their trading ideas that don't make it into the official portfolio for various reasons. There are dozens unofficial trading ideas every month. We started using the CMLviz Trade Machine to find and backtest some of our trades. This is an excellent tool that already produced few nice winners for us. What makes SO different? First, we use a total portfolio approach for performance reporting. This approach reflects the growth of the entire account, not just what was at risk. We balance the portfolio in terms of options Greeks. SteadyOptions provides a complete portfolio solution. We trade a variety of non-directional strategies balancing each other. You can allocate 60-70% of your options account to our strategies and still sleep well at night. Second, our performance is based on real fills. Each trade alert comes with screenshot of my broker fills. Many services base their performance on the "maximum profit potential" which is very misleading. Nobody can sell at the top and do it consistently. We put our money where our mouth is. Our performance reporting is completely transparent. All trades are listed on the performance page, with the exact entry/exit dates and P/L percentage. It is not a coincidence that SteadyOptions is ranked #1 out of 704 Newsletters on Investimonials, a financial product review site. Read all our reviews here. The reviewers especially mention our honesty and transparency, and also tremendous value of our trading community. We place a lot of emphasis on options education. There is a dedicated forum where every trade is discussed before the trade is placed. We discuss different strategies and potential trades. Unlike most other services that just send the trade alerts, our members understand the rationale behind the trades and not just blindly follow the alerts. SO actually helps members to become better traders. Other services In addition to SteadyOptions, we offer the following services: Anchor Trades - Stocks/ETFs hedged with options for conservative long term investors. Steady Condors - Hedged monthly income trades managed by the Greeks. LC Diversified Portfolio - broadly diversified, absolute return, multi-strategy portfolio. All services produced double digit returns in 2017. We now offer a 3 products bundle (SteadyOptions, Steady Condors and Anchor Trades) for $745 per quarter or $2,495 per year. This represents up to 40% discount compared to individual services rates and you will be grandfathered at this rate as long as you keep your subscription active. Details on the subscription page. Subscribing to all three services provides excellent diversification since those services have low correlation, and you also get the ONE software for free for 12 months with the yearly bundle. The LCD is our most diversified and scalable portfolio, I highly recommend that members check it out. It is offered as an added bonus of all subscription plans. We also offer Managed Accounts for Anchor Trades and LCD. Steady Options Fund We have had an overwhelming response to the launch of the Steady Options Fund. We have sent out well over one hundred subscription agreements and are processing them as fast as we can. Outside of the Beta testers and Qualified Clients, this is a first come first serve situation. So if you are interested and haven't gotten your paper work, please email Chris at cwelsh@lorintinecapital.com or call him at 214-800-5164. Summary Overall it has been an excellent year for us. SteadyOptions is now 6 years old. We’ve come a long way since we started, but we still have a long ways to go. We are featured on Top 100 Options Blogs by commodityhq, Top 10 Option Trading Blogs by Options trading IQ, Top 40 Options Trading Blogs by feedspot and more. I see the community as the best part of our service. I believe we have the best and most engaged options trading community in the world. We now have members from over 50 counties. Our members posted over 4,400 topics and ~100,000 posts in the last 6 years. Those facts show you the tremendous added value of our trading community. I want to thank each of you who’ve joined us and supported us. We continue to strive to be the best community of options traders and continuously improve and enhance our services. Let me finish with my favorite quote from Michael Covel: "Profits come in bunches. The trick when going sideways between home runs is not to lose too much in between." Subscription is now open to new members for a limited time. If you are not a member and interested to join, you can click here to join our winning team. When you join SteadyOptions, we will share with you all we know about options. We will never try to sell you any additional "proprietary systems", training, webinars etc. All our "secrets" are included in your monthly fee. Happy Trading from SO team!
  7. Here are just a few of the shattered risk-related records, a sample of 3 each for the Dow and S&P: Dow: Dow Industrials intraday volatility, lowest on record (95% of days in 2017 had less than a 1% Dow intraday move) Dow Industrials greatest number of days in history without a 1% move (72) Dow Industrials closed at new all-time highs a record 71 times in 2017 S&P 500: S&P 500 annualized volatility of 3.9%, lowest on record S&P 500 Total Return Index gained in every month of 2017, and ended the year at a record 14 consecutive up months S&P 500 ended the year with a record 289 consecutive days without a 3% pullback VIX: Lowest intraday level in history (8.84 on 7/26/17), Lowest daily close (9.19 on 10/5/17), Lowest weekly close (9.36 on 7/17/17), and Lowest monthly close (9.51 on 9/29/17). 2017 also serves as a reminder that future is unknown. Nobody was predicting this to be the least volatile year in modern history. They were predicting just the opposite, in fact, even after the year had already begun… Additionally, US equities have now posted positive returns for nine straight years, tying the record from 1991-1999. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Some years from now, we'll look back and agree that 2017 was the "exception that proves the rule," and that risk indeed still exists, and must be dynamically managed for long-term success. In my firm, all of our strategies include dynamic risk management, either in the form of option hedging with our Anchor strategy or with trend following rules that react to weakness in equity prices by partially or entirely exiting positions to protect capital. After all, do we demand that the fire department be disbanded as a waste of time and money when a neighborhood experiences a year with no fires? Jesse Blom is a licensed investment advisor and Vice President of Lorintine Capital. He provides investment advice to clients all over the United States and around the world. Jesse has been in financial services since 2008 and is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. Working with a CFP® professional represents the highest standard of financial planning advice. Jesse has a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Oral Roberts University. Jesse is managing the LC Diversified portfolio and forum, the LC Diversified Fund, as well as contributes to the Steady Condors newsletter.
  8. Jesse

    Climbing the Wall of Worry

    Keep in Mind, Stocks Rose 1,100-fold During This Period From Morgan’s article: The S&P 500 rose 1,100-fold over the last 70 years, including dividends. But look what happened during that period: May 1946 to May 1947. Stocks decline 28.4%. A surge of soldiers return from World War II, and factories across America return to normal operations after years of building war supplies. This disrupts the economy as the entire world figures out what to do next. Real GDP declines 13% as wartime spending tapers off. A general fear that the economy will fall back into the Great Depression worries economists and investors. June 1948 to June 1949. Stocks decline 20.6%. A world still trying to figure out what a post-war economy looks like causes a second U.S. recession with more demobilization. Inflation surges as the economy adjusts. The Korean conflict heats up. June 1950 to July 1950. Stocks fall 14%.North Korean troops attack points along South Korean border. The U.N Security Council calls the invasion “a breach of peace.” U.S. involvement in the Korean War begins. July 1957 to October 1957. Stocks fall 20.7%. There’s the Suez Canal crisis and Soviet launch of Sputnik, plus the U.S. slips into recession. January 1962 to June 1962. Stocks fall 26.4%. Stocks plunge after a decade of solid economic growth and market boom, the first “bubble” environment since 1929. In a classic 1962 interview, Warren Buffett says, “For some time, stocks have been rising at rather rapid rates, but corporate earnings have not been rising, dividends have not been increasing, and it’s not to be unexpected that a correction of some of those factors on the upside might occur on the downside.” February 1966 to October 1966. Stocks fall 22.2%. The Vietnam War and Great Society social programs push government spending up 45% in five years. Inflation gathers steam. The Federal Reserve responds by tightening interest rates. No recession occurred. November 1968 to May 1970. Stocks fall 36.1%. Inflation really starts to pick up, hitting 6.2% in 1969 up from an average of 1.6% over the previous eight years. Vietnam War escalates. Interest rates surge; 10-year Treasury rates rise from 4.7% to nearly 8%. April 1973 to October 1974. Stocks fall 48%.Inflation breaks double-digits for the first time in three decades. There’s the start of a deep recession; unemployment hits 9%. September 1976 to March 1978. Stocks fall 19.4%. The economy stagnates as high inflation meets dismal earnings growth. Adjusted for inflation, corporate profits haven’t grown for eight years. February 1980 to March 1980. Stocks fall 17.1%. Interest rates approach 20%, the highest in modern history. The economy grinds to a halt; unemployment tops 10%. There’s the Iran hostage crisis. November 1980 to August 1982. Stocks fall 27.1%. Inflation has risen 42% in the previous three years. Consumer confidence plunges, unemployment surges, and we see the largest budget deficits since World War II. Corporate profits are 25% below where they were a decade prior. August 1987 to December 1987. Stocks fall 33.5%. The crash of 87 pushes stocks down 23% in one day. No notable news that day; historians still argue about the cause. A likely contributor was a growing fad of “portfolio insurance” that automatically sold stocks on declines, causing selling to beget more selling — the precursor to the fragility of a technology-driven marketplace. July 1990 to October 1990. Stocks fall 19.9%. The Gulf War causes an oil price spike. Short recession. The unemployment rate jumps to 7.8%. July 1998 to August 1998. Stocks fall 19.3%. Russia defaults on its debt, emerging market currencies collapse, and the world’s largest hedge fund goes bankrupt, nearly taking Wall Street banks down with it. Strangely, this occurs during a period most people remember as one of the most prosperous periods to invest in history. March 2000 to October 2002. Stocks fall 49.1%. The dot-com bubble bursts, and 9/11 sends the world economy into recession. November 2002 to March 2003. Stocks fall 14.7%. The S. economy puts itself back together after its first recession in a decade. The military preps for the Iraq war. Oil prices spike. October 2007 to March 2009. Stocks fall 56.8%. The global housing bubble bursts, sending the world’s largest banks to the brink of collapse. The worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. April 2010 to July 2010. Stocks fall 16%. Europe hits a debt crisis while the U.S. economy weakens. Double-dip recession fears. April 2011 to October 2011. Stocks fall 19.4%. The U.S. government experiences a debt ceiling showdown, U.S. credit is downgraded, oil prices surge. June 2015 to August 2015. Stocks fall 11.9%. China’s economy grinds to a halt; the Fed prepares to raise interest rates. ____________________________________________________________ I like Morgan’s article, it reminds us that economic uncertainty has always been a regular part of the past along with frequent corrections (10%+ declines) and deep bear markets (20%+ declines). His intention is to help us have a long term perspective. Many times throughout the past seven decades, “this has never happened before”. Yet the US continued to show its strength and resiliency. For some, this is effective. For others, they need something more to help them follow their plan. Dual Momentum In the equities portion of our dual momentum model, we rotate among US Large, US Small, and International stocks based on twelve month relative strength momentum[2]. When all three asset classes have negative absolute momentum[3], we switch into bonds. The idea here is to earn the risk premium in stocks with less exposure to the downside volatility and bear market drawdowns that frequently have occurred in the past and will frequently occur in the future. We emphasize less in an effort to promote proper expectations. Empirical data suggests that dual momentum can be used to earn higher returns with less risk than buy and hold, but it’s not a Holy Grail. Holy Grail strategies tend to fall apart in real time because they were over fit to a limited amount of past data with no economic argument to support why they work. Researchers refer to this as data-mining. With dual momentum, we believe having a proven rules-based method in place to exit equities ahead of the majority of major bear market declines can be all that is needed to help investors have the confidence to stick with their strategy for the long term. And the right strategy for every investor is the one they will stick with. This is key. Since Morgan is using data since 1946, we thought it would be fun to look at showing our dual momentum equities model during this same period (note: international is excluded in this example due to lack of data prior to 1970 although we use it in our actual trading model). Here are a few things to take notice of on both the chart and in the statistics. On the chart, it’s important to notice that our dual momentum approach did NOT outperform an equal weighted buy and hold portfolio in the first thirty years, but slightly lagged or matched buy and hold for most of the period. Thirty years is the investment time horizon for many investors, not seventy. If only relative strength momentum would have been used during this period, outperformance would have occurred. Absolute momentum, or trend following momentum, will take you out of the market at times when doing nothing would have ended up being the better short term outcome. We call these whipsaws, and they are expected as a short term price to pay for risk management that can allow us to sidestep the majority of painful bear market drawdowns. Over the long term, relative strength and absolute momentum tend to contribute fairly equally to excess returns. If the future ends up looking more like this specific period of the past, we still would prefer dual momentum’s slight underperformance as a small cost to pay for the psychological comfort of knowing a plan is in place to protect capital against 50% drawdowns. The total outperformance of dual momentum in the last seven decades comes in the more recent four decades where three separate bear markets of 50%+ losses occurred for buy and hold investors. Two of these occurred in the last fifteen years. This is when absolute momentum does its job of taking us out of equities in the early stages of bear markets. Even during the first thirty year period, dual momentum still produced lower volatility and maximum drawdown[4], and a higher Sharpe Ratio. The period of 1946-1972 produced an annualized return of 12.1% for buy and hold and 11.78% for dual momentum, while over the entire duration dual momentum produced both higher returns and less risk. We make clear to our clients that beating the market isn’t a financial goal, and it would be intellectually dishonest for us to suggest we can guarantee anything about the future. What we can guarantee is that we have vigorously researched a robust investing plan supported by decades of historical data and third party validation. When combined with disciplined execution and realistic expectations, we believe the probabilities are highly in favor of a successful long term investing experience. Investigate carefully Choose wisely Follow faithfully Fama/French (2008): Momentum is “the center stage anomaly of recent years…an anomaly that is above suspicion…the premier market anomaly.” [1] The Credit Suisse Global Investment Return Yearbook shows how both US and World ex-US (in USD) equity risk premiums have far exceeded those of bonds and bills since 1900 forming the portfolio theory basis for focusing on equities in our dual momentum model. [2] Relative strength momentum compares total returns of one asset class to another over an applicable lookback period. The asset class that has risen the most is held for the next month. [3] Absolute momentum is defined as having a total return less than the risk free rate (such as US T-bills) over the applicable lookback period. [4] Maximum drawdown measures total peak to trough loss suffered prior to reaching new equity highs. Maximum drawdown is much more important to most investors than the more frequently mentioned measure of risk known as standard deviation or annualized volatility. Past performance doesn’t guarantee future results. The concepts of dual momentum were pioneered by the research of Gary Antonacci. We recommend using his best-selling book and blog as an additional resource for studying momentum. This is a hypothetical model intended to show the efficacy of dual momentum, and is not intended to represent specific investment advice. Data is gross of any applicable taxes and transaction costs, and investors should always consult with their tax advisor before investing. All investments carry risk, may lose value, and are not FDIC insured. We provide the hyperlink to Morgan Housel’s article as a convenience and do not endorse nor guarantee the accuracy of any information he has presented. Feel free to contact us if you’d like to discuss your specific situation further. We welcome every opportunity to discuss how we could add value to your financial life. Related Articles: Buy The Winners: The Power Of Momentum Momentum – The Premier Market Anomaly
  9. The Lazy Trader

    Why not do it yourself?

    Sorry to disappoint, nothing new to reveal. Let's start with the most criticized villains: hedge funds. According to Barclay (tracking more than 2,000 hedge funds), the average Hedge Fund return in 2015 was +0.04%. Of course, this is before management fees and everything else. More details here. It is a common practice in the industry to use the 2-20 scheme, meaning 2% management fee on your assets, plus 20% of your gains in the year. Needless to say, the average guy lost money. Let's move on to the second most criticized villain: mutual funds For mutual funds I decided to go with a sample of one of the most representative institutions when it comes to wealth management: RBC. I took a look at some of the most popular funds, those with catchy words in the name like "Balanced", "Value", "Global", "Income", "Growth". RBC Balanced Fund: 2015 return: +0.8%. Avg since inception: +6.4% annually. Management Fee: 2.16%. RBC Global Balanced Fund: 2015 return: +4.1% (Hey not too bad!! ) Avg since inception: +4.2% annually. ( Oh, well ) Management Fee: 2.21% RBC Monthly Income Fund: 2015 return: -3.4%. Avg since inception: +6.8% annually. Management Fee: 1.20%. RBC North American Growth Fund: 2015 return: +1.6%. Avg since inception: +7.5% annually. Management Fee: 2.09% RBC North American Value Fund: 2015 return: -0.3%. Avg since inception: +7.3% annually. Management Fee: 2.10% If we average out those 2015 returns, we have +0.56% among these 5 big pools. Never forget the average management fee is around 2% per year. Since inception, they average about 6% annual returns (not too bad), but the 2% management fees turn it into 3% to 4% real returns after fees.....so when you factor in inflation,... yes, you guessed it. Finally the least hated, in fact most times venerated index funds: I just kept it simple with the super popular VTI (Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF) VTI's price at the beginning of the year was 105.94 vs 104.34 at the end of the year. With the addition of distributions it finishes the year slightly positive. According to Morning Star the total return in 2015 was +0.36% for VTI. Not beating the simple strategy of holding SPY is something I won't criticize in this article. I have talked about that before. I myself have under-performed the market in some periods in the past. However, one thing must necessarily be said: If these funds were delivering inferior returns BUT were protecting investors from severe corrections, then we could argue that they have a mission, that they play a vital role: They under-perform in exchange for protecting investors from serious corrections. It's the price to pay in order for our money to be safe. Yet, that's generally very far from being true. Most mutual/hedge funds generally under-perform during market rallies, and over-correct during market sell-offs. In addition, you are not protected against crashes, looking at the history of most mutual funds in 2008, they corrected between 30% and 60%, some even more. And I'm saying "most", not "all" simply because many mutual funds that we have today hadn't been born back then. This naturally leads people to think: "what the hell! I'm going to passively follow an index". It seems to be slightly better than giving your money to a Mutual Fund or Hedge Fund, but not by much. The index will not save you from the corrections and bear markets. And the saddest part of the story is that you are guaranteed to ALWAYS under-perform. It is mathematically impossible to match the index that you follow, whichever it is. Why? Well, to start off the vehicles you invest in in order to follow the index have a management fee. Yes, usually small, but still a management fee. That alone is enough to guarantee under-performance in respect with the index. Then you also have execution slippage, Bid-Ask differential. That, eats up a little more. Finally, you have trading costs, a.k.a commissions you pay your broker for facilitating the actual buying and selling of shares. When all this is included, index followers usually under-perform the index by 1% to 2% in the long run. As of this writing, VTI's average annual performance since inception is +5.88%. As explained earlier, the investor is guaranteed to be getting less than that. Why not do it yourself? Saying that nobody will take care of your money better than yourself is so cliche. But man it is so damn true. Yes, most individuals under-perform, but most individuals do not put the effort to improve their skills, to learn solid trading approaches with better historical risk-adjusted returns. Most people under-perform, but you are not "most people". Imagine what this world would be if every successful person stopped fighting and improving just because "the majority fails". What would Lebron be if at some point he'd stopped to think: "Why bother? Most aspiring basketball players don't make it to the NBA". What if Joe Di Maggio had said: "Screw it. I'm not even going to make the effort. Most baseball players never get to play Major League Baseball". Every successful entrepreneur, every successful musician, every successful writer, surgeon, engineer...Mathematically speaking, they all started with huge odds against them, just based on the results of the general population. Most people are lazy by nature, and prefer to invest their time browsing pictures of hot photo-shopped girls on Instagram. You are not like "most people". Even if you browse for some hotties on the Internet, the single fact that you are reading this site demonstrates you are not like "most people". After all, it takes a special kind of liver to be able to read this annoying site for a prolonged period of time. Why not grow your money yourself, with calculated risks and action plans instead of the constant nervousness produced by the concerns that the markets will always crash tomorrow and I have no idea how the hell my fund manager will react? Why significantly reduce your returns due to paying someone for the privilege of this constant fear? The numbers, the numbers don't lie. This article was originally published here by Henrik aka The Lazy Trader. Henrik trades Iron Condors, Credit Spreads, Dividend Growth investing, Cash Secured Puts, Covered Calls, ETF Rotation, Forex. He likes to share his passion with others, educate and learn something from everybody. You can follow Henrik on Twitter.
  10. "A lot of folks just look at the return side of the equation," says Wasif Latif, vice president of equity investments for USAA Investments in San Antonio. "But how smooth was your ride to get to that return?" The Sharpe ratio puts those two pieces together. When building a portfolio, the objective is to merge your plan with reality. We want all the return with none of the risk, and it's why a fraud like Bernie Madoff fooled investors for decades. We desperately want to believe in fairy tales, often self-sabotaging our own returns by pursuing unproven complexity over proven simplicity. It's the triumph of hope over experience. For perspective, a Sharpe Ratio of 1 over a long period of time (decades) is extremely rare for any investment or investment portfolio. Just go out and try to find them. Be skeptical of anyone suggesting they can achieve, or have achieved, extraordinarily high Sharpe Ratio's. Here's an example of the Sharpe Ratio of the S&P 500 since 1990: Annualized Return: 9.36% Risk Free Rate (T-bills): 2.87% Annualized Volatility: 14.61% Sharpe Ratio: 0.44 And here's a picture of that reality, from www.portfoliovisualizer.com. One simple way to increase your portfolio's Sharpe Ratio is with diversification. For example, moving half of a portfolio into a bond index fund, and rebalancing annually, has done a nice job of improving your Sharpe Ratio from 0.44 to 0.70 since 1990. Note how much smoother the portfolio growth would have been. Investors would be well served if the finance industry would start showing people a track record instead of simply providing numbers. Just giving investors a bunch of numbers doesn't help them understand the good, the bad, and the ugly of long term investing. At this point, sophisticated investors could get creative and utilize concepts such as synthetic longs with option combos and momentum filters to further maximize risk-adjusted returns, but those are topics for another post and a point to discuss with a competent investment advisor. The point here is to help you think beyond returns to risk-adjusted returns the next time you review your portfolio or a potential investment. The Sharpe Ratio is one proven way to measure how much pain you've historically had to endure in order to achieve a certain gain. Sharpe ratios work best when figured over a period of at least three years, advisers say. Taking our Steady Condors strategy, you might ask yourself: is 17% CAGR (Compounded Annual Growth Rate) a good return? Well, the answer is - it depends. When this return is achieved with only 15% annual volatility - then yes, it's an excellent return. In fact, it is much better than 25% CAGR with 40% annual volatility. Our Performance Page presents Sharpe Ratios for all three our services. We encourage you to check it and compare our Sharpe Ratios to other services (assuming you can even find this info at other services). Related Articles: Are You EMOTIONALLY Ready To Lose? Why Retail Investors Lose Money In The Stock Market Are You Ready For The Learning Curve? Can you double your account every six months? If you are ready to start your journey AND make a long term commitment to be a student of the markets: Start Your Free Trial
  11. Well, every trade should be put in context. Before evaluating a trade (or an options strategy), the following questions should be asked and answered: What is the holding period of the strategy? What is the maximum risk? What is the profit potential? What is the average return? What is the winning ratio? Why holding period is important? Well, making 5% in one week is not the same as making 5% in six months. In the first case we are talking about 250% annualized return. In the second case, 10%. See the difference. Maximum risk is important because it doesn't make sense to aim for 5% gain if your strategy can lose 50-100%. For example, when you are trading a directional strategy, and the stock gaps against you, the losses can be catastrophic. Since the risk is high, you should aim for higher return to compensate for the risk. However, if your maximum risk is limited, you can aim for lower return and still get excellent overall performance. Lets examine our pre-earnings straddles as an example. As a reminder, a long straddle option strategy is vega positive, gamma positive and theta negative trade. It works based on the premise that both call and put options have unlimited profit potential but limited loss. Straddles are a good strategy to pursue if you believe that a stock's price will move significantly, but unsure as to which direction. Another case is if you believe that Implied Volatility of the options will increase - for example, before a significant event like earnings. I explained the latter strategy in my Seeking Alpha article Exploiting Earnings Associated Rising Volatility. IV usually increases sharply a few days before earnings, and the increase should compensate for the negative theta. If the stock moves before earnings, the position can be sold for a profit or rolled to new strikes. This is one of my favorite strategies that we use in our SteadyOptions model portfolio. This is how the P/L chart looks like: How We Trade Straddle Option Strategy provides a full explanation of the strategy. Lets take a look at 2017 statistics for this strategy: Number of trades: 77 Number of winners: 62 Number of losers: 15 Winning ratio: 80.5% Average return per trade: 5.1% Average return per winning trade: 8.7% Average return per losing trade: -10.2% Average holding period: 7.2 days Lets do a quick math. If you can do 10 trades per month, each trade producing 5% gain on average and 10% allocation per trade, your monthly return is 5% on the whole portfolio. That's 60% non compounded annual return, with minimal risk. To answer the original question: for a strategy that has 80% winning ratio and loses on average 10% on losing trades, with average holding period of one week, 5% is an EXCELLENT return. In fact, I would consider it as Close to the Holy Grail as You Can Get. Related Articles: How We Trade Straddle Option Strategy Buying Premium Prior to Earnings Can We Profit From Volatility Expansion into Earnings Long Straddle: A Guaranteed Win? Why We Sell Our Straddles Before Earnings
  12. GavinMcMaster

    How Much Do You Need To Trade Options?

    I was speaking to one trader the other day who had a $20,000 win with his first trade. I explained that this was almost the worst thing that could happen, because he started thinking “this is easy” and “if I can make this much when I don’t know anything, imagine what I can do when I get some more experience.” Sure enough, this trader blew up his account not long after. He was taking on too much risk without knowing how to handle it. For new traders, it is much better to start with a small account size. Even if you have $200,000 available for trading options, just start with $10,000 and get a feel for how things work. Then, when you’ve been trading for a year or so, SLOWLY build your account from there. You don’t want to jump from $10,000 to $200,000 overnight. The psychological aspect of trading a $200k account is much different to a $10k account. All of a sudden a 1% loss has gone from $100 to $2,000. So, the big question is how much do you need to get started trading options? I believe there is no real minimum. You can start trading with $200. The experience you gain will be with you for a lifetime, so the earlier you get started the better. That being said, there are certain strategies that will not be available to you with only a small amount of capital. Iron condors for example will be hard to trade with less than $5,000. Also, you need to keep in mind that commissions and fees are going to have a much larger impact on a small account. Ideally, you want to have around $5,000 to $10,000 at a minimum to start trading options.Call Course HOW TO TRADE OPTIONS FULL-TIME To become a full-time options trading requires a big commitment both financially and mentally. As the old saying goes, “It’s the hardest way there is to make easy money”. Trading is hard, there will be good times and bad times. Will you be able to handle the emotional upheaval the bad times can cause? The first step to figuring out if you can go full-time, is to figure out how much you need to live off. If you want to make it as a trader, you need to be prepared to live pretty frugally. We’ve all seen the images of hot shot traders driving Ferraris, but that’s not the reality for 99% of traders out there. Most full-time traders I know live very frugally. First things first, you should audit your spending behaviour and see if there is anywhere you can cut back without sacrificing your lifestyle. The next step is to build a track record over a few years and figure out what sort of return you can expect on a consistent basis. It would be good to have this track record through a variety of different market conditions. There are a lot of “bull market geniuses” out there right now, but how will they fare during the next bear market? Let’s say you’re pretty confident that you can achieve 15% per year. If you can live off $50,000, then you need a capital balance of $333,333.33. If your results indicate you can only achieve a 10% return then you need $500,000 but if you can achieve a 20% return then you only need $250,000. You can see there is a massive variation in the amount of capital needed depending on your returns. The best bet is to build that track record and figure out what sort of return YOU can achieve. Every trader is different after all. Also note, that I haven’t met many traders consistently earning over 20% per year (despite what all those internet ads tell you), and I’ve met A LOT of traders in the last 15 years. Your Options Trading DEALING WITH LOSING MONTHS Losing months are never fun for any trader, but they are a double whammy for full-time traders. Not only has your account balance gone down, you’ve also had to withdraw funds to live off. So your account has taken a double hit, and now you need an above average return next month. Can you handle that kind of stress? Having a minimum account size that you’re aiming for is a great idea, but it might be worth waiting until your balance is a little higher than you think you need in order to safely handle those losing months. Some traders will have 12 months’ worth of expenses set aside (outside their trading account) before making the jump to full-time. Trading is a tough game, and if you’ve got the added pressure of needing to make a certain return to put food on the table only adds to that stress. Having some emergency funds put aside can help you focus on the business of trading. ADDITIONAL EXPENSES One thing a lot of people don’t consider is the additional expenses that can be incurred as a trader. Does your current employer cover your health insurance? Do they pay for your smart phone? Do they provide you with a fast computer? A gym membership? All these things and more will be your responsibility going forward. If your computer breaks and you don’t know how to fix it, you need to pay a computer guy to fix it for you. Previously your employer would take care of all of this. Same goes for your phone etc. Be prepared for some additional expenses when you work for yourself.Implied Volatility Calculator CONCLUSION Hopefully I haven’t stressed you out too much, but the reality is, you need a significant amount of capital before even thinking about becoming a full-time trader. Those of you who have $50,000 and think you can go full-time, I’m sorry but it’s just not going to happen. Unless you’re a single guy who can live the backpacker lifestyle in Thailand. But, trading is one of the most rewarding jobs there is. No boss, work from home, travel, the list goes on. Stick at it, take it step by step and slowly build your account, and you will get there. Gavin McMaster has a Masters in Applied Finance and Investment. He specializes in income trading using options, is very conservative in his style and believes patience in waiting for the best setups is the key to successful trading. He likes to focus on short volatility strategies. Gavin has written 5 books on options trading, 3 of which were bestsellers. He launched Options Trading IQ in 2010 to teach people how to trade options and eliminate all the Bullsh*t that’s out there. You can follow Gavin on Twitter.
  13. 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 $500 gain on a $1,000 investment to be a 50% return when the whole account is worth $10,000. We consider this to be a 5% 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 Model portfolio is based on starting value of $10,000, compounded monthly and reset every year. We start with $10,000 each year and compound as the year progresses. Initial full position is $1,000 (10% of the portfolio) and half position is $500 (5% of the portfolio). For example: FB trade on 12/28/17 (last trade of 2017) produced 40% gain. If we make 40% on $500 it is $200. But we base the positions on the new portfolio value at the end of each month (23,551 at the end of November 2017) so full position is $2,355 and half position is $1,177. 40% of $1,177=$471, so the portfolio increased from 26,014 to 26,485. This is what compounding means. 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. Still skeptical? Why not to take the SteadyOptions free trial and see by yourself how we are different from other services. Please refer to Frequently Asked Questions for more details about us. If you liked this article, visit our Options Trading Blog for more educational articles about options trading. Related Articles: Why Retail Investors Lose Money In The Stock Market Are You Ready For The Learning Curve? Can you double your account every six months? Performance Reporting: The Myths and The Reality Are You EMOTIONALLY Ready To Lose? Start Your Free Trial
  14. I can guess that many people in this industry are getting this question. Today I got an email from Matthew Klein, CEO of Collective2.com, where he provides some excellent and perfectly logical explanation. Here are some major points. “Why would a good trader share his strategy?” That’s the question, then, isn’t it? If you create a good trading strategy, why let other people use it for a modest amount of money, rather than keeping it all to yourself? Actually, there are several reasons. Leverage and risk The same question can be asked of virtually the entire financial industry. Why do top-tier hedge funds accept investor money? If the guys at Two Sigma are so smart (and they are), why don’t they just trade their own money from an unmarked building in Soho? Why go through the hassle of raising capital from investors? Or more broadly, why have mutual funds? Why run a bond fund? If Bill Gross is such a genius (and he is), why does he bother accepting investor money, and suffering the indignity of annoying questions, or unfortunate P.R.? Why not trade his own private capital from his house in Laguna Beach, and when people ask him what he does for a living, he can just say, “I’m a beach bum. I don’t do anything.” The answer is: leverage (people want more of it) and risk (people want less of it). Even Masters of the Universe don’t have infinite cash sitting around. After all, many Hedge Fund Titans live in New York City: there are co-ops to buy, kids to private-school, restaurants to patronize. If you are a managing director at a top-tier hedge fund, and you have a million dollars in the bank, ready to invest, which would you prefer: to earn 20% on your money? Or 30%? Letting other people invest alongside you, and making money on their money, is a form of leverage. (For those not fluent in finance: leverage means using borrowed money to make more money.) Leverage isn’t always a good thing, of course (you can lose more, too) — but if you have high confidence in your trading ability, using leverage can be a wise decision. If you are a competent trader, and you have $100,000 sitting in your brokerage account, ready to trade, which would you prefer: to earn 20% on your money? Or 30%? Imagine you are a good trader, and you think that you can earn 20% each year on your $200,000 trading nest egg. Now imagine that selling your strategy on lets you earn an extra $5,000 each month in subscription fees from your followers. That’s the equivalent of another 30% on your capital. Sure, there’s no guarantee you will earn that, but if you build a good track record on, you can earn that much, and more. So, just like a Hedge Fund Titan — or just like a mutual fund manager — you can gain “leverage” on your own dollars by opening your strategy to the public. Reducing Risk Allowing outside investors to trade alongside you, and pay you a fee, also reduces your risk. Let’s be honest about that. A typical hedge fund charges “2-and-20” — which means they charge an investor a fee of 2% of the money invested with them, plus 20% of the investor’s profits. That 2% is charged no matter what — whether the fund wins or loses. It’s called a “management fee,” and in theory it’s meant to cover fixed expenses that happen every month at a hedge fund, no matter what: you know, rent, administrative assistants, legal and accounting, blow. But money is fungible, and what you pay with one set of dollars is something you don’t have to pay with another set of dollars. One way to think of that 2% management fee is as a risk-reduction cushion. If trading doesn’t work so well in one month, you still get your 2%. When you’re managing a billion dollars, that’s a nice chunk of change. Now, listen, if you stink up the place six months in a row, most investors will flee and take their 2% management fee with them. But you’ll get a bit of leeway — more so if you have a long and distinguished track record behind you. That leeway reduces your risk. That’s what you gain by offering your strategy to other people, instead of just trading it alone. Building your career So far, I’ve discussed the financial reasons why a legitimate, talented trading-strategy creator would sell his system. But there’s another reason, which is not related to money, but, rather, to career development. Finance is a hard industry to break into. We’ve all read about the glamorous life of hedge fund managers, but how exactly does one go about getting a job at a hedge fund? You don’t fill out an application online, and — truthfully — unless you go to a top-five American university, you won’t see the face of a recruiter at your annual career fair. I’ve already written about how stupid hedge-fund hiring practices are. But indignation won’t change the world. The fact is, it’s ridiculously hard to get a job at a hedge fund, and in finance in general, and probably always will be. But there’s one thing “finance people” respect, and that’s money. Prove you can make it for them, and it doesn’t matter one bit whether you went to Harvard or Pomona State. Money talks. Running a public track record, with other people’s money at stake, is a different beast than sitting alone in your room, wanking your own tiny brokerage account. The pressure makes some people crack. On the other hand, some people love performing in public — whether the performance is musical, or written… or financial. Some people share their strategies with the public for reasons other than money: they are building their career, buffing their resume, trying to break into the business. SteadyOptions Not all those reasons are applicable to SteadyOptions, but some are. But even if you don't buy any of those reasons, the only question you have to ask yourself: is the subscription service helpful to you? Does it help you to become a better trader? Does it help you to make money? If the answer to those questions is yes, this is the only thing that should matter to you. Why am I doing this is secondary. Happy trading!
  15. Performance Dissected It is important to mention that those numbers are pre-commissions, so your actual results will be lower. As with every trading system which uses multi leg trades, commissions will have a significant impact on performance, so it is very important to use a cheap broker. We have extensive discussions about brokers and commissions on the Forum (like this one) and help members to select the best broker. Commissions reduce the monthly returns by approximately 2-3% per month, depending on the broker. Please refer to Performance Dissected topic for more details. We had few rough months in 2016. The main reason is that we started implementing a new strategy that holds trades through earnings. This is a high probability high risk strategy that had very good historical results and probability, but did not work well in 2016. You can read more details here, including the lessons we learned. This strategy was responsible for majority of the losses in Feb-Apr. 2016. Once we realized that the strategy doesn't work well and is higher risk than most members would like, we abandoned it and went back to our time proven strategies. It took us just 5 months to recover, and our model portfolio doubled since April lows. Members who had the discipline and patience to stay the course have been greatly rewarded. To put things in perspective, it was our worst drawdown in 5 years. Despite our best efforts, drawdowns happen in trading, it's part of the game. Despite this drawdown, we still delivered 5 years CAGR of 82.5% (including commissions), while investing only 50-60% of our capital on average. It is important to understand that Drawdowns Are Part Of The Game. All big winners including AAPL, AMZN, GOOG and MSFT had few drawdowns ranging from 65% to 92%. If you sold them, you would not enjoy the gains that followed. Our strategies SteadyOptions uses a mix of non-directional strategies: earnings plays, Iron Condors, Calendar spreads etc. We constantly adding new strategies to our arsenal, based on different market conditions. SO model portfolio is not designed for speculative trades although we might do some in the speculative forum. SO is not a get-rich-quick-without-efforts kind of newsletter. I'm a big fan of the "slow and steady" approach. I aim for many singles instead of few homeruns. My first goal is capital preservation instead of doubling your account. Think about the risk first. If you take care of the risk, the profits will come. We continue expanding the scope of our trades beyond the earnings trades, Iron Condors and calendars. We are trading SPY, TLT, VIX and other ETFs to diversify the portfolio. We will continue refining those strategies to get even better results. This gives members a lot of choice and flexibility. Looking at specific strategies, pre-earnings calendars were our best performing strategy, producing 18.2% average return with over 80% winning ratio. We will continue trading what works the best and adapt to the market conditions. What makes SO different? First, we use a total portfolio approach for performance reporting. This approach reflects the growth of the entire account, not just what was at risk. We balance the portfolio in terms of options Greeks. SteadyOptions provides a complete portfolio solution. We trade a variety of non-directional strategies balancing each other. You can allocate 60-70% of your options account to our strategies and still sleep well at night. Second, our performance is based on real fills. Each trade alert comes with screenshot of my broker fills. Many services base their performance on the "maximum profit potential" which is very misleading. Nobody can sell at the top and do it consistently. We put our money where our mouth is. Our performance reporting is completely transparent. All trades are listed on the performance page, with the exact entry/exit dates and P/L percentage. It is not a coincidence that SteadyOptions is ranked #1 out of 704 Newsletters on Investimonials, a financial product review site. Read all our reviews here. The reviewers especially mention our honesty and transparency. We place a lot of emphasis on options education. There is a dedicated forum where every trade is discussed before the trade is placed. We discuss different strategies and potential trades. Unlike most other services that just send the trade alerts, our members understand the rationale behind the trades and not just blindly follow the alerts. SO actually helps members to become better traders. Other services In addition to SteadyOptions, we offer the following services: Anchor Trades - Stocks/ETFs hedged with options for conservative long term investors. Steady Condors - Hedged monthly income trades managed by the Greeks. LC Diversified Portfolio - broadly diversified, absolute return, multi-strategy portfolio. The LCD is our most diversified and scalable portfolio, I highly recommend that members check it out. It is offered as an added bonus of all subscription plans. We also offer Managed Accounts for Anchor Trades and LCD. Let me finish with my favorite quote from Michael Covel: "Profits come in bunches. The trick when going sideways between home runs is not to lose too much in between." Subscription is now open to new members for a limited time. If you are not a member and interested to join, you can click here to join our winning team. When you join SteadyOptions, we will share with you all we know about options. We will never try to sell you any additional "proprietary systems", training, webinars etc. All our "secrets" are included in your monthly fee. Happy Trading from SO team!
  16. Our performance reporting is on the whole account and based on real fills. We put our money where our mouth is. Our members already know that we execute all trades that we share with members in our personal accounts. You can read here what our members think about us. But today I'm going to take one more step toward complete transparency. I'm going to provide an additional reference to the current and prospective members and share with you my personal account performance. I'm going to show you the summary of my actual 2015 account statement, directly from my broker. Here it a screenshot from my broker's 2015 statement: Just to be clear, I have several accounts trading/investing different strategies, but this account is exclusive to trades that I share with my SteadyOptions and Steady Condors members. It uses a very conservative allocation of 5-7% for SteadyOptions trades and 15-20% allocation for Steady Condors trades, leaving around 30-50% of the account in cash on average. I followed the same allocation guidelines that I share with my members and started with account value consistent with what majority of our members allocate to our services. As you can see, the account return was 80.2% in 2015. You might have the following questions after seeing my performance: Q: Why are you revealing your personal performance? A: My goal is to show you that SteadyOptions performance is not a myth or hypothetical performance. By showing you my real numbers, I want you to see what is possible to earn by trading options if you have the patience, the discipline and the perseverance. Q: Will I be able to replicate this performance if I subscribe to SteadyOptions and/or Steady Condors? A: That depends. If you just started trading options, then most probably the answer is NO. It will take time. I know this is not what people want to hear, but that's the truth. If you have some experience and spend the time to learn our strategies, then I see no reason why not. In fact, some of our members do better than our official performance. Q: Is 80% per year really that good? A: You might see sales pages showing you 200%+ returns on some cheap options they bought. But what they don’t tell you is that those trades happen once in a while and are not consistent. The real question is not how much you made on few isolated trades, but how much you made on the whole account. Performance Reporting: The Myths and The Reality shows a lot of examples of performance manipulation, so be careful. Q: How much risk did you take to achieve this performance? A: Trading is a risky business in general. However, we implement advanced techniques to reduce risk. For example, the Steady Condors trades are hedged and protected much more than "standard" Iron Condor trades. In SteadyOptions portfolio we balance the trades in terms of the Greeks to reduce risk. Position sizing also plays a big role. But those techniques can only reduce risk, not eliminate it. This is why I still don't recommend allocating more than 20-30% of your net worth to options trading, especially if you have big portfolios. Q: Can you achieve similar performance with $1,000,000 portfolio? A: NO. It is a well known fact that achieving very high performance numbers becomes more difficult as your account grows, for various reasons. One of the issues is liquidity, and this is why I don't recommend allocating more than $100,000 to SteadyOptions. Q: What is the impact of commissions on performance? A: As you can see, even with cheap broker, I still paid over $16k in commissions in 2015, which reduced the performance by ~20-25% per year. Commissions is the cost of doing business, but you should do whatever is possible to reduce them. Brokers and Commissions discussion can help you to pick the right broker. Q: Why your performance page presents much higher returns for SteadyOptions service compared to your personal account performance? A: Few reasons. First, the performance on the performance page excludes commissions. Second, my account traded mix of SteadyOptions and Steady Condors strategies and Steady Condors performance is lower. Third, I kept relatively large portion of the account (around 30-50%) in cash most of the time. Q: Do you trade other strategies besides SteadyOptions and Steady Condors? A: This specific account is exclusive to SteadyOptions and Steady Condors strategies only. I have other accounts (retirement account, corporate account etc.) where I have longer term investments, including Anchor Trades strategy. I also have some Real Estate investments. Q: I would love to join, but I have a full time job and no time to dedicate to trading. Why don't you offer auto-trading? A: SEC considers newsletters that engage in auto-trading to be investment advisers, and I am not licensed to be an investment adviser. So most newsletters that engage in auto-trading are breaking the law and are exposed to lawsuits like this one. You can read more details here. Please let me know if you have any questions. I invite you to try our services and see how we can help you to become a better trader. I'm not going to promise you the Holy Grail. What I can promise you is that if you are willing to work hard and learn the craft, the sky is the limit. Watch the video: SteadyOptions service is currently closed to new members. You can join the waiting list and we will notify you when we have available spots. Start Your Free Trial *** Free trial is for new members only ***
  17. And while it was easy to pretend trade for years and years as long as the Fed injected trillions into the "market", levitating stocks every higher, lately it has been far more difficult, not only for real trader, but also for "paper traders" too. Case in point, "stock trading whiz kid" Manuel E. Jesus, aka "Manny Backus" - and apparent chess prodigy based on his photo - and his newsletter company Wealthpire Inc. There was just one problem for Manuel Jesus, aka "whiz kid" - he was a fraud, at least according to the SEC, which announced "that a self-proclaimed “stock trading whiz kid” and his stock newsletter company in Los Angeles have agreed to pay nearly $1.5 million to settle charges that they defrauded subscribers through false statements and misrepresentations." “Investors who subscribe to trading alert services are relying on the purported expertise and success of those making the stock recommendations, but Wealthpire and Backus instead circulated repeated lies and falsehoods,” said Michele Wein Layne, Director of the SEC’s Los Angeles Regional Office. The SEC complaint against Manny Backus didn't come as a surprise to me. All I needed was five minutes on his website to smell a fraud. But then I came across this article. The author conducted a survey to see how much (or little) marketers in our community conduct compliance reviews of their marketing materials. "Marketers don't like to talk much about compliance issues. It won't deliver thousands of new customers or millions in new sales. It only gets attention when cases like the one above are announced. But everyone is scared they will mistakenly cross a line, get found out, and be the subject of the next $1.5 million settlement and S.E.C. press release." The author also says that "people are too quick to assume someone is a crook - although there are certainly a fair number of them in every online marketing industry. In my (biased) opinion, in the trading newsletter industry, not "a fair number of them" are crooks. Most of them are crooks. Just look at some the claims you see from those promoters: I turned $12,415 Into $4,155,000 trading penny stocks. 2,062% Weekly Option Gain. Turn $3,000 Into $100,000 in 4 months. I made 29,233% in 12 months trading high flying Internet stocks. We averaged 127.16% Per Month trading credit spreads. We guarantee that our options trading strategies will make you profitable every month. 99% of my recent 326 stock picks have been winners. Trading $150,000 into $650,000 in 8 months. How Jack turned $250 into $16,000 in Just One Month. +9,651.04% day trading return since Jan. 4 2016. Of course none of them has ever provided any proof of those returns. As Bloomberg article correctly concluded, their self-promotional strategies have made them richer than trading ever did. Here is the problem: like Manny Backus, most of them are not real traders. They are promoters. They need to lie because they don't have anything real to back their claims. So yes, if you lie, you need to conduct compliance reviews of your marketing materials. You need a lawyer to protect you. If you are a real trader and your "marketing materials" just present your real trading results, you don't really need a lawyer. I know which category SteadyOptions team belongs to. Do you know which category your "guru" belongs? Is he a trader or a promoter? Will he be the subject of the next $1.5 million settlement and S.E.C. press release? Related articles: 10 Signs Of A Fake Guru Can You Really Turn $12,415 Into $4M? Can you double your account every six months? Performance Reporting: The Myths and The Reality SchoolofTrade: Another Guru Busted Want to learn how to trade successfully from real traders? Start Your Free Trial
  18. Check out the Performance page to see the full results. Please note that those results are based on real fills, not hypothetical performance. Performance Dissected It is important to mention that those numbers are pre-commissions, so your actual results will be lower. As with every trading system which uses multi leg trades, commissions will have a significant impact on performance, so it is very important to use a cheap broker. We have extensive discussions about brokers and commissions on the Forum (like this one) and help members to select the best broker. Commissions reduce the monthly returns by approximately 2-3% per month, depending on the broker. Please refer to Performance Dissected topic for more details. For the first time, I also provided an update on My 2015 Personal Account that produced 80.2% return, after commissions, trading exclusively SteadyOptions and Steady Condors strategies. November was our only losing month in 2015. Our biggest loser was 60%, and only 11 trades have lost more than 20%. Our strategies SteadyOptions uses a mix of non-directional strategies: earnings plays, Iron Condors, Calendar spreads etc. We constantly adding new strategies to our arsenal, based on different market conditions. SO model portfolio is not designed for speculative trades although we might do some in the speculative forum. SO is not a get-rich-quick-without-efforts kind of newsletter. I'm a big fan of the "slow and steady" approach. I aim for many singles instead of few homeruns. My first goal is capital preservation instead of doubling your account. Think about the risk first. If you take care of the risk, the profits will come. We continue expanding the scope of our trades beyond the earnings trades, Iron Condors and calendars. We are trading SPY, GLD, TLT, VIX and other ETFs to diversify the portfolio. We will continue refining those strategies to get even better results. This gives members a lot of choice and flexibility. Looking at specific strategies, VIX trades were our best performing strategy in 2015, producing 28% average return with 90% winning ratio. Pre-earnings calendars were big winners as well, producing 15% average return with over 80% winning ratio. We will continue trading what works the best and adapt to the market conditions. What makes SO different? First, we use a total portfolio approach for performance reporting. This approach reflects the growth of the entire account, not just what was at risk. We balance the portfolio in terms of options Greeks. SteadyOptions provides a complete portfolio solution. We trade a variety of non-directional strategies balancing each other. You can allocate 60-70% of your options account to our strategies and still sleep well at night. Second, our performance is based on real fills. Each trade alert comes with screenshot of my broker fills. Many services base their performance on the "maximum profit potential" which is very misleading. Nobody can sell at the top and do it consistently. We put our money where our mouth is. Our performance reporting is completely transparent. All trades are listed on the performance page, with the exact entry/exit dates and P/L percentage. It is not a coincidence that SteadyOptions is ranked #1 out of 704 Newsletters on Investimonials, a financial product review site. Read all our reviews here. The reviewers especially mention our honesty and transparency. We place a lot of emphasis on options education. There is a dedicated forum where every trade is discussed before the trade is placed. We discuss different strategies and potential trades. Unlike most other services that just send the trade alerts, our members understand the rationale behind the trades and not just blindly follow the alerts. SO actually helps members to become better traders. Other services In addition to SteadyOptions, we offer the following services: Anchor Trades - Stocks/ETFs hedged with options for conservative long term investors. Steady Condors - Hedged monthly income trades managed by the Greeks. LC Diversified Portfolio - broadly diversified, absolute return, multi-strategy portfolio. The LCD is our most diversified and scalable portfolio, I highly recommend that members check it out. It is offered as an added bonus of all subscription plans. We also offer Managed Accounts for Anchor Trades and LCD. Let me finish with my favorite quote from Michael Covel: "Profits come in bunches. The trick when going sideways between home runs is not to lose too much in between." Subscription is now closed to new members. If you are not a member and interested to join, you can join the waiting list and we will notify you when the subscription re-opens.. When you join SteadyOptions, we will share with you all we know about options. We will never try to sell you any additional "proprietary systems", training, webinars etc. All our "secrets" are included in your monthly fee. Happy Trading from SO! Start Your Free Trial
  19. The assumption is that with careful stock selection, this strategy has a very high probability of success. I performed extensive backtesting on number of stocks, and the results were very promising. Stocks like AMZN and LNKD showed average gains of 30-35%. However, I also mentioned that this strategy has higher risk than other strategies that we use since earnings are unpredictable. High Probability High Risk is the right definition of this strategy. Not a good start to a promising new strategy.. Our first trade was NFLX. The stock has been selected based on its historical moves. It moved 13.7% on average in the last 8 cycles. The options predicted 17% move. The RIC trade was structured in a way that it required only 8% post-earnings move. What are the odds that the stock will move only 0.13% post-earnings? Slim to none if you asked anyone before earnings. Yet this is exactly what happened. We had a chance to close the trade at small loss or with some luck, even a small gain. But with 3 days left to expiration, we decided to wait. The stock reversed, resulting a 46.9% loss. Not a good start. The next one was AMZN. This one actually worked not bad. It did not move as much as expected, but still moved enough to produce a 21.2% gain. The real disaster came with the next two trades, GOOG and TSLA. The stocks moved much less than expected, reversed after the initial move and the trades have lost 70.6% and 100% respectively. With better risk management, all three losers could be closed for a small loss or even a small gain. I posted a full post mortem here (members only forum). Some members with higher risk tolerance decided to hold longer and were able to book 30-40%+ gains on AMZN and GOOG. In some cases the difference between significant loss and decent gain was a pure luck. What went wrong? This strategy is based on probabilities. If a stock moves xxx% in the last 8 cycles, there is a high probability that it will follow the same pattern the next cycle. However, probability is not certainty. There is always a chance that this cycle will be different. What are the chances that ALL 4 stocks will not follow the last cycles pattern? Not high, but this is exactly what happened. This is why you always need to have plan B. You always need to know in advance what to do if the trade does not behave as expected. It's called an exit plan to cut the loss. Instead of trying to cut the loss (and give up some potential gains), we continued holding, "hoping" that the stock will eventually make a move consistent with its historical patterns. It just did not happen. It all comes to what kind of trader you want to be. Is your goal to limit the losses or to maximize the gains? You cannot have it both ways. Higher gains come with higher risk and inevitably will produce some big losers. My first priority has always been limiting the losses. This time I tried to go for higher gains instead of limiting the losses, and it fired back big time. To be fair, all four trades could easily produce 30-40% gains with some more luck and more favorable market conditions. Main lessons Look for a good setup. Even if a stock is a good candidate historically, the options might be too expensive this time, decreasing your chances. Get out quickly once it becomes clear that the stock did not produce the expected move and the trade is borderline. Most of the time it should be possible to limit the loss to 10-20%. This rule might miss some gains, but at least we won't have catastrophic losses like we had this cycle. Close the short options of the losing side early, especially if there is still couple days till expiration. This way if the stock reverses, the losing side will benefit more. The probabilities will eventually play out, but while they don't, do everything you can to stay in the game. Limiting losses is all that matters. Always follow the rules. Generally speaking, if you consider this (or any other) strategy too risky, reduce your allocation or don't trade it. In a broader context, I always recommend that new members start with paper trading, then start small and increase the allocation gradually. Prove yourself that you can make money with 10k account for few months, then increase it to 20k etc. Don't jump right away from 10k to 50k or 100k. What's next? I feel the pain as much as my members do since I trade the exact same trades in my personal account. This was a very expensive lesson for all of us. However, I believe each lesson should benefit us and make us better traders. After a losing streak, your first impulse might be to overtrade in attempt to recover the losses. HUGE MISTAKE. The market doesn't know that you have lost money. And it doesn't care. If you tell yourself "now I really need some nice winners to cover for the losses", it's a safe path to more losses. What separates good traders from bad is how you react to your losses. "There's a difference between knowing the path... and walking the path." - Morpheus. To paraphrase Morpheus sentence, "there's a difference between knowing that there will be losers... and actually experiencing them". In a probability game, it is guaranteed that we will eventually experience a string of losses. The right thing to do is continue to execute our trading plan that has worked so well for us in the last 4+ years. Summary It gets tough when we experience losses or poor performances and that's where most traders quit because in the first place they never accepted emotionally that they are playing a probability game. As soon as a few losing trades and/or a drawdown of any kind occurs they hit the eject button and continue in their search for the Holy Grail strategy that always wins. Jumping from one trading system to another will only lead to more frustration. Only when you will accept emotionally that you are playing a probability game, you will be able to take your trading to the next level. We present a variety of strategies to our members. Some are more risky than others. Members have different risk tolerance and should take the risk levels of different trades into consideration before trading. Before entering each one of those trades, I made a full disclosure that those are relatively risky trades, so members have all the information to make an educated decision. To put things in perspective, the current string of losers is our biggest losing streak since inception. I encourage current and prospective members to look at the big picture. The big picture is that SteadyOptions produced over 770% non-compounded ROI since inception. The big picture is our history of 800+ trades and not only the last 10 trades. One bad month does not erase 4+ years of exceptional gains. Losses are part of the game, and if you can not endure losses, you should not be trading. Your maximum drawdown is ahead of you, not behind you. We will continue executing our trading plan, and those who have the discipline and patience to stay the course will be greatly rewarded. Start Your Free Trial Related Articles: Are You EMOTIONALLY Ready To Lose? Why Retail Investors Lose Money In The Stock Market Are You Ready For The Learning Curve? Can you double your account every six months? Big Drawdowns Are Part Of The Game
  20. Pension Partners published an excellent study about relation between big winners and big drawdowns. Big Winners And Big Drawdowns By Charles Bilello of Pension Partners Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Alphabet… All among the largest and most revered companies in the world. All have returned unfathomable amounts to their shareholders. All have experienced periods of tremendous adversity with large drawdowns. When thinking about big winners in the stock market, adversity and large drawdowns probably aren’t the first words that come to mind. We tend to put the final outcome (big long-term gains) on a pedestal and ignore the grit and moxie required to achieve that outcome. But moxie is the key to long-term investing success, for there is no such thing as a big long-term winner without enduring a big drawdown along the way… Apple has gained 25,217% since its IPO in 1980, an annualized return of 17%. Incredible gains, but these are just numbers, masking the immense pain one would have endured over time. Apple investors from the IPO would experience two separate 82% drawdowns, one from 1991 to 1997 and another from 2000 to 2003. Amazon has gained 38,882% from its IPO in 1997, an annualized return of over 36%. To put that in perspective, a $100,000 investment in 1997 would be worth just under $39 million today. Breathtaking gains, but they were not realized without significant adversity. In December 1999, the initial $100,000 investment would have grown to $5.4 million. By September 2001, less than 2 years later, this $5.4 million would shrink down to $304,000, a 94% drawdown. It took over 8 years, until October 2009, for Amazon to finally recover from this drawdown to move to new highs. Bill Gates is the richest man in the world, having amassed his $80 billion fortune as the founder of Microsoft. Microsoft has returned 25% a year over the past 30 years, a remarkable feat. The path to riches in Microsoft looks deceptively easy on the surface. The calendar year returns from its IPO in 1986 through 1999 were incredibly high and consistent, masking significant underlying volatility. In 1987 Microsoft advanced 123% but would suffer more than 50% decline in October during the stock market crash. It would not recoup those losses for two years, until October 1989. Its largest drawdown in history occurred over a 10 year period, a 70% decline from 1999 through 2009. Alphabet (formerly Google) has been one of the great growth stories in recent history, returning 26% per year since its IPO in 2004. It did not achieve these returns, though, in a straight line. Its largest drawdown: a 65% decline from 2007 through 2008. It should be clear from these four examples that large drawdowns are an inevitable part of achieving high returns. If you haven’t yet experienced such a gut-wrenching decline, then you probably haven’t owned something that has appreciated 10x, 20x or more. Or you simply haven’t been investing for that long. I know what you’re thinking. There has to be a better way. You want that big juicy return but without the big drawdown. Yes indeed, as does everyone else. The problem, of course, is in trying to hedge or time your exposure to big winners, you will likely miss out on a substantial portion of the gains. Or your emotions will cause you to sell at precisely the worst time (after a large drawdown). Your volatility and drawdown profile may be lower, but that tradeoff will come at a price. As I wrote earlier this year (see “The Hedge Fund Myth”) the price for hedge fund investors seeking lower volatility/drawdown in equities has not been a small one, with the HFRX Equity Hedge Index (an investable index of Long/Short equity funds) posting a negative return since 2005 while the S&P 500 has more than doubled. Many investors in these funds were seeking the Holy Grail, a high return (often 15-20% in their “mandates”) with little risk (no large drawdowns). They expected their managers to pick the Apples and Amazons of the investment world without incurring the inherent volatility that comes along with it. As we know, that is a complete and utter fantasy. All big winners have big drawdowns. Accepting this fact can go a long way toward controlling your emotions during periods of adversity and becoming a better investor. Read the original article on pensionpartners.com.
  21. Kim

    It Is Time to Get Real

    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 expectations. We 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. Want to learn more? Start Your Free Trial Related Articles:Why Retail Investors Lose Money In The Stock MarketAre You Ready For The Learning Curve?How to Calculate ROI in Options TradingPerformance Reporting: The Myths and The RealityAre You EMOTIONALLY Ready To Lose?
  22. Jesse

    Why Simple Isn’t Easy

    Yet it’s well known how difficult it is for a fund manager to beat it over the long term. A big part of the reason why the S&P 500 beats most fund managers is because of its simple discipline. It continues to apply the same set of rules over and over again. The whole concept of “smart beta” shows numerous ways to create indices that would have beat the market cap weighting process of the S&P 500 over long periods of market history. Perhaps the greatest form of alpha is the ability to follow a simple approach with rigid discipline over the long term. Howard Lindzon of StockTwits recently shared his top ten takeways Stocktoberfest conference. Here was #5: 5. Any system of investing is better than NO system of investing. As Jerry Parker from Chesapeake pointed out to me that is why the $SPY beats most. It may be a rudimentary system for investing in stocks, but it is a system. I found this Forbes interview with Jim O’shaughnessy on February 23, 2009 particularly interesting. Keep in mind, February 23, 2009 was within a couple weeks of the market bottom. The Dow was trading around 7,000, more than 50% below its October 2007 high. Predictions for Dow 5,000, 3,000, even 1,000 were being made. With recency bias clouding our better judgement, many investors saw this as all but certain and needed to do something to intervene. The fear in the marketplace was unbelievable and people were in the process of officially devastating their life savings by abandoning their long term plan and selling towards the bottom. This is also a great example, which I wrote about here, on why you can’t rely exclusively on historical data. Given enough time, your maximum drawdown is always ahead of you. Yet read how Jim is telling the exact same story as he always does as a true quant, whether at new highs, or in this case, during a record drawdown. Keep it simple, trust your exhaustive research and data, and follow your plan. It’s simple, but not easy. On the importance of staying simple and using only easy-to-understand ratios, O’Shaughnessy says: “If the math gets higher than algebra, it’s pretty certain you will lose your money. If you look back to the most spectacular blow ups in history, you can always tie them to a couple things: They were extraordinary complicated strategies that maybe even the practitioners themselves didn’t understand and they were overleveraged.” Although his approach is purely quantitative, O’Shaughnessy also does emphasize the importance of having the right mindset when putting money to work in the stock market. In particular, he tells investors to stay focused and disciplined. The problem for many investors, he says, is that they hit down markets like the one we’re in now and, suddenly, they change up their strategies. This is a terrible mistake and one that ends up costing people a lot of money. The smarter way to invest, he says, is to choose a proven method of separating winners from losers and then adhere to it, in good times and bad. “Generally speaking, when things are going against you, as they inevitably will, you have to stick to the underlying strategy,” he says. “Only by doing so will you be around for when it comes rebounding back.” It’s also just as critical, he believes, to try to remain emotion-free. This is obviously easier said than done as 24/7 news broadcasts second by second tumult in the markets. But only those investors that can distance themselves from such emotions and passions can benefit, in the long term. “Fear, greed and hope have destroyed more portfolio value than any recession or depression we have ever been through,” O’Shaughnessy says. “By relying on the statistical information rather than a gut feeling, you allow the data to lead you to be in the right place at the right time. To remain as emotionally free from the hurly burley of the here and now is one of the only ways to succeed.” As Charlie Munger said in his BBC Interview During the Financial Crisis: "If You Can’t Stomach 50% Declines in Your Investment You Will Get the Mediocre Returns You Deserve." Jesse Blom is a licensed investment adviser and Vice President of Lorintine Capital, LP. He provides investment advice to clients all over the United States and around the world. Jesse has been in financial services since 2008 achieving multiple industry achievements including qualifying membership in the Million Dollar Round Table for 5 consecutive years. Membership in this prestigious group represents the top 1% of financial professionals in the world. Jesse has a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Oral Roberts University.Jesse is managing the LC Diversified portfolio. Start Your Free Trial
  23. Please note that those results are based on real fills, not hypothetical performance. Performance dissected It is important to mention that those numbers are pre-commissions, so your actual results will be lower. As with every trading system which uses multi leg trades, commissions will have a significant impact on performance, so it is very important to use a cheap broker. We have extensive discussions about brokers and commissions on the Forum (like this one) and help members to select the best broker. Commissions reduce the monthly returns by approximately 2-3% per month, depending on the broker. Please refer to Performance Dissected topic for more details. The following is a snapshot of our performance, taken from Pro-Trading-profits.com: According to PTP, our Average Annual Return since inception is a remarkable 107.7%, including commissions. Current Year Annualized Rate of Return is 146.3%. SteadyOptions strategies SteadyOptions uses a mix of non-directional strategies: earnings plays, Iron Condors, Calendar spreads etc. The pre-earnings strategy is based on my Seeking Alpha articles ‘Exploiting Earnings Associated Rising Volatility’ and ‘How To Rent Your Options For Free’. This strategy aims for consistent and steady gains with holding period of 2-7 days. SO model portfolio is not designed for speculative trades although we might do some in the speculative forum. SO is not a get-rich-quick-without-efforts kind of newsletter. I'm a big fan of the "slow and steady" approach. I aim for many singles instead of few homeruns. My first goal is capital preservation instead of doubling your account. Think about the risk first. If you take care of the risk, the profits will come. What makes SO different? First, we use a total portfolio approach for performance reporting. This approach reflects the growth of the entire account, not just what was at risk. We balance the portfolio in terms of options Greeks. SteadyOptions provides a complete portfolio solution. We trade a variety of non-directional strategies balancing each other, including but not limited to straddles, calendars, butterflies etc.. You can allocate 60-70% of your options account to our strategies and still sleep well at night. Second, our performance is based on real fills. Each trade alert comes with screenshot of my broker fills. Many services base their performance on the "maximum profit potential" which is very misleading. Nobody can sell at the top and do it consistently. We put our money where our mouth is. Our performance reporting is completely transparent. All trades are listed on the performance page, with the exact entry/exit dates and P/L percentage. It is not a coincidence that SteadyOptions is ranked #1 out of 704 Newsletters on Investimonials, a financial product review site. Read all our reviews here. The reviewers especially mention our honesty and transparency. Other services In addition to SteadyOptions, we offer the following services: Anchor Trades - Stocks/ETFs hedged with options for conservative long term investors. The strategy delivered 0.3% return in Q1 2015, basically tracking the S&P 500, while staying completely hedged all the time. Steady Condors - Hedged monthly income trades managed by the Greeks. The strategy delivered 10.8% return in Q1 2015. Including April portfolio which was closed recently, the YTD return is 17%, which brings Steady Condors back to new equity highs. LC Diversified Portfolio - broadly diversified, absolute return, multi-strategy portfolio. The strategy delivered 3.1% return in Q1 2015. The LCD is our most diversified, comprehensive and scalable portfolio. I highly recommend that members check it out. It is offered as an added bonus of all subscription plans. You can also read a comprehensive overview of the strategy here. We also offer Managed Accounts for Anchor Trades and LCD. Subscription is now open to new members for a limited time. We invite you to join one of the most successful options newsletters.When you join SteadyOptions, we will share with you all we know about options. We will never try to sell you any additional "proprietary systems", training, webinars etc. All our "secrets" are included in your monthly fee. Happy Trading from SO! Related articles: SteadyOptions 2014 - Year In Review Steady Condors: The Comeback SteadyOptions 2014 Half Year Report: 95.3% ROI Steady Options 2013 - Year In Review How to Calculate ROI in Options Trading Start Your Free Trial
  24. Jesse

    Thinking in terms of decades

    That feels logical, as two years can seem like an eternity for clients that tend to check their account balances almost every day. On a separate side note, I believe this behavior is rooted in an investors tendency to not completely trust their advisor which is legitimate in a field chock-full of conflicts of interest and bad advice which can largely be eliminated by a fiduciary standard. But historical and statistical evidence suggests that even the most efficient strategies and portfolios are almost guaranteed to have a period of losses or no growth that last at least a couple years during any investor’s lifetime. Nobody can predict when that will happen. Does the fact that Warren Buffett underperformed the S&P 500 by almost 100% and the Nasdaq 100 by more than 350% for almost a two year period matter, or does this matter? Source: http://awealthofcommonsense.com/buffetts-performance-by-decade/ Obviously the long term performance is what matters, yet investor’s actions regularly tell a different story and unfortunately this will never change. Are you mentally prepared to experience significant periods of underperformance? It’s inevitable. In fact, just about everything has underperformed the last few years relative to US stocks. Living through a track record is a LOT different than reviewing one on paper when you know how the story ends. In our firm we believe pretty good is better than constantly pursuing perfection, and maximum risk-adjusted returns come from proper portfolio construction instead of concentrated bets. Every strategy, including Warren Buffett’s, has periods that appear where it’s broken. For us mere mortals with a plethora of emotional baggage and behavioral biases that come attached to our money, I contend the best, perhaps even the only way towards a successful investment experience, is through diversification. “The most powerful tool an investor has working for him or her is diversification. True diversification allows you to build portfolios with higher returns for the same risk. Most investors…are far less diversified than they should be. They are way over-committed to stocks.” -Jack Meyer “Thus timing, and in particular the selection of the beginning point and end point for studying a performance record – plays an incredibly important role in perceptions of success or failure” -Howard Marks “No strategy is so good that it can’t have a bad year or more. You’ve got to guess at worst cases: No model will tell you that. My rule of thumb is double the worst that you have ever seen.” -Cliff Asness, AQR Jesse Blom is a licensed investment adviser and Vice President of Lorintine Capital, LP. He provides investment advice to clients all over the United States and around the world. Jesse has been in financial services since 2008 achieving multiple industry achievements including qualifying membership in the Million Dollar Round Table for 5 consecutive years. Membership in this prestigious group represents the top 1% of financial professionals in the world. Jesse has a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Oral Roberts University.Jesse is managing the LC Diversified portfolio. Start Your Free Trial
  25. Karen the "SuperTrader" has generated a lot of curiosity in the trading community. She has been interviewed on TastyTrade twice. The title of the last interview was .Is she real? Does she really generate all those outstanding profits? Some people think Karen is a fraud. This article aims to clarify some facts about Karen SuperTrader and her trading results. Click here to view the article