way of a trader by Ian Murphy

The key takeaways

one rule

There is one single cardinal rule to always keep in mind.The preservation of capital.By strictly following this rule ,we counter the self destructive behaviour our emotions and hopium set us on.

keeping it simple helps

have to choose whether they are investing or stocks trading.investor will have a diversified portfolio spread across multiple asset classes.trader focusses on one or two markets and might trade a single instrument repeatedly.

if there is choice between lost capital or lost opportunity, you know what to do. in stocks Trading opportunity does not comes once, it keeps coming.

fundamental analysis,technical analysis. Both styles have their strengths and shortcoming

always use protective stops, basically a stop loss order. Apart from closing a losing trade protective stop ring fence your financial exposure.


it happens when the price hits a protective stop, closes a position and then reverses trend and starts trading higher except the trader is out of the position. The trader has to fine tune the stop loss point to avoid this and also if the stop loss gets hit ,enter the stocks trade again if the initial thesis and condition still holds good.


protective stop is placed deeper down the charts to avoid whipsaw.although it can help you in avoiding triggering stop loss but it can result in large drawdowns and resulting in smaller trade size.

there are no perfect answer to choose between whipsaw or lag.These are different styles and different probabilities and we have to take our pick.


shares,etfs,futures,forex, cods,crypto,

three styles of trading

trend following, swing trading and day trading

a share which is rising on a daily chart,might be falling in weekly chart and rising on monthly chart all at the same time.


With the trend following, we take a position in a stock when its moving up.we stick with the trend till it ends.also known as positional trading style is suited for trading on long side and woks best with established stocks.

we can rarely get in at the start of a trend and time our exit at the top of the trend. in reality we will get in once the trend has been established and get out after the trend has topped out.

Attempting to predict the bottom will just see us catching the falling knife and buying into loss.similarly predicting the top will see us getting out with just small profit.

trending stocks have two things in common ,a good fundamental and they keep going far longer than anyone expects.To fully embrace a trend following we must be committed laggards.we must accept our exit point and protective stop will be long way from the current price.This means we may have to sit through long pull backs too.

Monthly trend following

In this slow and steady style each bar or candle on our chart represents a full month of trading activity. its purely technical ,entry and exit on pre defined signals. Trending a monthly chart is like investing in property market.Trend changes are common knowledge by the time they are technically confirmed.monthly trend following is incredibly easy but very few have the required discipline and patience. Every price bar takes a full month to form ,so waiting for the last day before taking action can prove impossible.

Dow theory

With this we need to be aware of sector rotation as profitability passes from one area of the economy to another. Practitioners of this trend should be familiar of dow theory also,particulary accumulation and distribution phase.

Monthly trend following is suitable for long term accounts which means practitioners of this trade are also DIY fund managers.Its good idea to let a friend or fellow trader know if you are trading a monthly strategy.they should know your entry and exit signals and review them once a month. we can choose a trading platform which allows conditional orders. This allow us to programme orders which will trigger at the end of month if our requirements are met.


Monthly trend following also needs to be considered in terms of passive vs active debate.Passive investors build a portfolio of assets which match the weighing of a specific index or they simply buy some index tracking ETFs.The trick is to be passive when market is trending and active when its turning.


Weekly trend following is more demanding than monthly trend following.We have to be prepared to move our protective stops at least every weekend. Might be monitoring the price action on daily basis.To trade this style we need to understand the basics of trend structure and have the patience to wait for each weekly bar to slowly print out without jumping in or anticipating.

Daily swing trading

in this case each price bar represents one full day of trading.Swing trading is all about identifying the moment when energy in the trade shifts from potential to kinetic and stock sparkles to life. It can be with prevailing market trend or against it. Normally we expect to be in swing trade for a few days or a week at most.As soon as the move ends we get out of our position.This type of trade works quickly or not at all. Once we are in the trade we need to adjust orders only after the market closes. Good entry and exits are important.We move our protective stop to a break even position as soon as possible. common error is dropping down to intra day time frame to monitor at the action more closely.

holding a swing trade position over weekend is something we need to consider If at all we hold a swing trade during the weekend we during the week take partial profit and move the protective stop loss to break even.

Day trading

we trade intraday and actively trade throughout the day.If we know what we are doing we can make serious money very quickly.Technical indicators are less useful on intraday time frames.Day traders place more emphasis on the interpretation of price action alone. Any time frame shorter than 30 minutes when trading equities produces too much random movement to be tradable. The Taiwan and france studies of day traders concluded that over half of all day trading can be traced to traders with history of losses. Day trading is better be avoided for beginners.

four legs

The attributes to support a successful trader


How we deal with our emotions is what makes or breaks a trader. Mass psychology is what the markets are all about. success in market is 80% psychological and 20 % methodology be it fundamental or technical. Over time as we learn to invest less expectation and fear into each trade, our emotional reaction to the outcome will diminish accordingly. Get the ego out and just trade.Groupthink is destructive in market environment.When everyone rushes to one side of see saw because its going up their collective weight pushes it back down again.

when the market is trending strongly , we go with the crowd . a traders involvement with market trends is based on temporary mutual interest.

fluidity of our mind will determine our success in market.solid and stodgy view on how things (markets) should operate will not let us succeed in markets.


usa and uk have prospered because of their entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to embrace risk.Without risk there will be no reward. Traders have to be professional risk takers ,because that is where thr reward lies.They have to have confidence to take the steps others dread.The key to embracing risk is to understand it and become familiar with it.Every day before we trade, we conduct a risk assessment where we identify the current risk ,quantify the potential loss and put measures in place to manage it.

probability versus prediction

markets can go uptown or sideways. as soon as we expect one of these to happen, we are excluding two other possibilities and reduce our chances of success by 66.6%.We have no control over markets but we have total control over our response to it.When the market moves we implement the plan appropriate to that direction even when we believe market is going the wrong way.market never goes the wrong way, we do.

The five limits of risk

the 1% limit

The total amount of money placed in a trade must be less than 1% of the daily turnover of the a stock.

The 2% limit

Extensive testing has shown that the maximum amount a trader may lose on a single without damaging his long term prospects is 2 percent of his equity. so a trader must not risk more than 2% of his capital.T

The 6 % limit

Monthly limit of 6 % of capital for losses, then stop trading for the month.

The 20% limit

The total exposure in a single trade should not be more than 20% of the capital.

The 40% limit

Risk reward ratio should never be greater than 40% (1/2.5) This ensures that we emerge winner even after losing more than half the time.


trading coach

trading records

Good records are what separate successful traders from gamblers.

Market karma


Trading strategies

our strategy should clearly identify how and when we enter trade,how we manage it once we are in and what needs to happen for us to exit.At no stage of the process we should be confused about what to do.

trading signals

every trading strategies should have a number of clearly defined requirements which must be met before we embark on trade.These will normally be technical indicators

Five stages of trader’s career


lovestory begins with reckless romance. Its important we lose money while starting trading.Our acceptance and understanding of loss is the bedrock on which our future success will be built.


we once recognise we have been trading recklessly, we need to stop the cash bleeding from our account.to do this we need to stop trading.Excessive trading is one of the major causes of mortality among newly opened trading accounts.

dunning and kruger state

we propose that those with limited knowledge in a domain suffer a dual burden.Not only do they reach mistaken conclusion and make regrettable errors but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realise it.


once a losing trader has stopped trading, they need to take some time out and make a decision to revive.

they must do

realistically assess their ability to trade

accept a reasonable return on investment

identify the market they will trade

find a stocks trading style which suits their personality, life style and resources

learn a trading statregy with proven profitable outcome

constantly apply risk management tools

keep good records

stay humble and keep an open mind

when we wash our clothes we don’t actually wash anything we just arrange the infrastructure and circumstances which allow it to happen.The composition of water does the washing we just facilitate the event.Same way in market we don’t make money from trading, we arrange a financial infra structure and create circumstances which allow our account to benefit from inherent opportunities in the market.

equipment a good laptop


we know the market moves in recurring patterns.Rather than wasting our time predicting the future direction of the market, we should spend the time more productively by learning how to recognise these patterns and have a plan to trade them when they occur.


a true market expert always sees them as beginner

we need to have good source of news, economist is considered to be great apart from few others.


we have to follow a definite routine consistently.


having learned to control our losses, the profits will look after them selves.

SIX Edges


we must be prepared to give up our time freely and not expect a reward for every minute we spend in front of the screen.We cannot bill the market by the hour.if our strategy is flagging entry signals we must be generous with cash.because maybe we can make a years wages in a short period of time.


Discipline in trading means sticking to the trading plan.





light marketing businessman man
Photo by Artem Podrez on Pexels.com


Trading diary

personal experience of public events.stats and charts are far removed from the strong emotions which power the market.for this reason we should keep a personal diary when trading.this allows us to create our history which should be read in conjunction with the official statistical version of events. Records be honest. good trade and bad trades are not the issue ,the thinking and motivation behind them is what we are trying to identify. we should also do a year end review and keep a couple of days to do this task.

we are essentially trying to learn from our past.

STUDY notes

we should keep our study notes printed and keep them in folder.During the year we should periodically flick back over our study notes. Concepts and advice about the market which passed over our head as beginner will offer fresh insights when we revisit them later.

trade logs

we should keep a trade log and learn from it

day, date and time




ticker or symbol

direction short or long


setup how many of required indicators were present

earning date we note next earnings date and place a reminder in our trading calendar.


entry and exit price

entry chart

trade comments

exit chart

follow up date

Our equity curve

we should create a equity curve ,record the closing balance of account every month.These figures should be plotted on a graph.Equity curve should be going up.

Trading strategies

when trading ,our mission is to follow the strategy.The strategy should be clear enough for other people to understand when we write it down.It should have a name for it to resonate with us on personal level.

general trading rules

round positions to nearest multiple of 50

do not move stop closer to price

don’t trade on monday morning

maintain constant position size

only trade filtered stocks

follow the five limits of risk



Entry and exit criteria


Manually sourced data

the End day data we collect ourselves and keep them saved in 3 copies.

Eight checks

a pre trading check list

.myself-mood,physical condition, our previous days trading, schedule of the day ahead.


economic calendar,e.g. interest rate anouncement,opec meeting or things like that.


Markets are open 24 hours, one market is starting after one market has closed. us markets start after indian markets,


green-we can trade strategy today

orange means not today but maybe soon

red means no trading


monthly opening a/c balance

current a/c balance

monthly gain/loss%

current exposure

exposure risk available

trade risk


Earning reminders are set for all our open position

we confirm our open orders

Mentors and mates

we check opinions of mates and mentors to look for overlooked points

Media to be avoided but for some macroeconomic calendars

Nine filters

selecting stocks to trade

run the filters at the latter end of february,may august and november to discount the quarterly business earnings .

Ethics and eccentrics

find the sector and industries to trade




Blue chip stocks

first limit of risk

profitability scan

liquidity ratios of the company


optional and shortable


Percent average true range -dividing the ATR by the current price. % ATR between 2-6 % is good enough to trade.


Technical indicators and orders


Open high low close (OHLC)

Reversals and price washouts

a washout occurs when the price drops to a level which is lower than the previous days low reversed and closes higher than the previous days close Washouts are important because they clear the air and settle the current disagreement between bulls and bears.

MOVING average-price and value

two types simple and exponential avearges

21 emac line is a good place to start.on a daily chart it will be past 21 days

on weekly chart 21 emac covers almost a month

on monthly chart covers almost 2 years of data

when we are unsure about the markets weekly chart with 21 EMAC on it reminds us of the trend of the market.

50 days and 200 days SMA are frequently used by large institutions to identify the trend changes.When the 50 days SMA crosses the 200 days SMA from below its called golden cross over because the trend is changing to the upside and things are looking golden.

ATR (average true range) channels

Stocks fluctuate up and down as they move along the chart but healthy stocks stay inside a channel like a sober pedestrian stays on a footpath.


Volume and price when viewed together give us and indication of effort and reward.


Support and resistance zones are tasted a few times before the market crowd can burst through.When with a heavy push of traders the S/R are breached ,it is called break out. False break outs to be avoided.a breakout is confirmed when price tests the support and resistance doors from other side and they hold firm.

market order

limit order

stop limit order

protective stop

location of protective stops

Volatility (ATR) based protective stops are the best.

Average true range support and resistance- a rising will often reverse as it encounters the ATR line especially 3 ATR line and falling stock will encounter the support at the -1or -2 ATR line

Trailing stop

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