A day in the life of a trader: what it takes to be successful in the world of markets

Samuel Leach
Stocks Rise After Federal Reserve Announcement Of Rate Hike
Life as a trader presents significant financial opportunities – and challenges (Source: Getty)

Trading is a commonly misunderstood career. Many perceive it as a way to get rich quick and have an elaborate lifestyle, but this is a fallacy.

True, life as a trader presents significant financial opportunities – you can make your dreams of Porsches and pools a reality.

But such dreams will only be realised through careful strategising, emotional resilience, and putting in the hours to achieve steady growth.

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You need to love the job to be successful, and you should go into trading with your eyes open.

Have Stamina

The financial markets can change in a second, and if you’re not online to react, you’ll be left behind very quickly.

This means you can expect to work 12-hour days as standard, and shouldn’t be surprised if you find yourself up at 3am and clocking off at 8pm to cover the worldwide markets.

It’s crucial to know when you’re not in the right mindset to make deals

You’ll need stamina, a passion for what you’re doing, and a willingness to dedicate weekends to sleep in order to withstand the hours. And even with this, you shouldn’t expect to be in the game for more than 10 years – there’s a reason you never see an old trader.

Catch up and reflect

Starting your day by catching up on what’s happened in the markets and in the news overnight is essential to ensuring your finger is on the pulse from the word go.

By understanding the trading environment you are walking into, you will provide yourself with the collateral to not only analyse the markets, but predict the future opportunities.

While it’s crucial to monitor the markets carefully throughout the day, an unbroken focus can lead to tunnel vision, which is detrimental to your efficiency.

It’s therefore important to take breaks, and reflect on how your trading week has performed.

This can simultaneously improve your future performance.

After all, in the business world, the rear-view mirror is always clearer than the windshield, so it’s important to capitalise on the benefits of considering what opportunities you missed, why you missed them, where your focus was at the time, and what you could do differently.

Be emotionally detached

Trading is a volatile business, and losing out at some point when there are sharp turnarounds in the market is inevitable. But this is a difficult lesson for new traders to learn.

In August of 2015, I lost £50,000 in two minutes when the market suddenly plummeted by 1,000 points. It was a huge shock, but I was able to prevent the loss from affecting my personal and professional life, because I had undergone subconscious mindset training to help me become emotionally neutral to the markets.

All my new employees undergo the same process, where they are taught that it’s natural to lose sometimes. They all learn how to apply and maintain market consistency in the face of emotional triggers.

Though often overlooked, emotional highs can be equally dangerous to personal wellbeing and performance as emotional lows.

Whether we notice it or not, a constant stream of success can cultivate a feeling of invincibility, resulting in a drop in attention span, and increase in mistakes. Access to a mindset coach who can educate on this, and ensure that traders bear it in mind throughout their working week, is invaluable.

Be hyperaware

Life on the trading floor moves at an impressive speed – a deal can be made in as little as 60 seconds.

This creates a high energy and sometimes a tense environment, particularly for newcomers.

This intensity is heightened by the need for traders to be hyperaware. Just as you must protect against the impact of trades on your own emotional state, you must keep a close eye on how distractions from your personal life can impact the quality of your trades.

It’s crucial that you can accurately assess your wellbeing and know when you’re not in the right mindset to make deals.

You can use this attentive quality for anticipating how events in the news will affect the market. For instance, during an election, it will be vital to monitor the announcements, so you can stay a step ahead of the market changes.

Key to success

Being a successful trader requires a willingness to work long hours and the stamina to pull it off, underpinned by an attentiveness to the news. You must be able to anticipate changes in the market, and constantly self-assess your performance and emotional state.

Combined, these qualities will open-up access to an enriching, rewarding, fast-paced career – one which I enjoy every day.

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