Like most other professions, futures trading requires individuals to possess a few core competencies before they can achieve success. In this article, we’ll address five of the most important trading skills: analytics, focus, discipline, intellectual curiosity, and organization.
Skill #1: Analytics
No matter what type of trader you are, having an analytical base is the key to crafting strong trading decisions. This may be accomplished via fundamental, technical, or hybrid analysis:
- Fundamental: Fundamental analysis is the study of qualitative data. Identifying market underpinnings and analyzing the impact of news events are two examples of fundamental analytics.
- Technical: Technical analysis is the strict quantitative study of price action. Charting, applying indicators, and strategic backtesting are examples of technical analytics.
- Hybrid: Hybrid analysis involves combining facets of both fundamental and technical analytics. For many professional traders, hybrid analysis is the basis of all trading decisions.
One of the primary jobs of active traders is to analyze and interpret all types of data. Accordingly, having the analytical trading skills needed to break down quantitative and qualitative information is an integral part of drawing profitable conclusions.
Skill #2: Focus
On any given day, the markets can seem chaotic and random. Breaking news items, scheduled economic releases, and surprise events can rapidly turn price action upside down. Accordingly, market pros master the ability to maintain focus as a key part of their trading skills.
In practice, electronic trading has expanded active market hours to nearly 24/5. Given the extended session, blocking out extraneous noise and concentrating for long periods of time is the key to maximizing efficiency. Traders who lack this skill are susceptible to burnout.
Skill #3: Intellectual Curiosity
Intellectual curiosity is the backbone of all learning and an essential skill for successful futures traders. It is important to be genuinely interested in order flow, market drivers, and the process of price discovery. If not, trading can quickly become boring and tedious.
The benefits of having an intellectual curiosity toward all things futures are multifold. First, a curious mind actively seeks knowledge and is inquisitive. These attributes give the learning process depth and ensure that knowledge is a product of tangible experience rather than memorization. Second, being curious boosts your power of observation and stimulates the formation of new ideas. Without a base level of intellectual curiosity, you are likely to stagnate as a futures trader.
Skill #4: Discipline
As the old saying goes, “It takes dedication, desire, and discipline to make it as a trader.” Perhaps the most important of these three traits is discipline. Possessing the self-control to engage the markets from a position of strength ranks highly among trading skills―in fact, it is the trader’s lifeline.
The human element can wreak havoc on even the strongest traders. Emotional pitfalls, such as overtrading and chasing profits, often lead to a fast and devastating loss of capital. If you don’t have the discipline to apply a viable strategy consistently, then your chance of success is fleeting.
Skill #5: Organization
Being a professional trader involves a number of tasks, many of which seem to be menial labor. However, each facet of active trading is important and best not ignored. Here are two areas where maintaining a robust organizational bent is crucial:
- Operational management: Active futures traders are typically in charge of their own business operations. Subsequently, extensive record-keeping is required to keep track of revenues, losses, expenses, and tax liabilities.
- Journaling: One of the most valuable tools that an active trader can have is a journal. A good journal includes detailed trade-related statistics, market notes, and personal observations. Given the abundance of data, it is critical that the journal is well structured and organized.
Organization is among the most necessary trading skills. Without it, conducting market research, evaluating performance, and developing as a trader is nearly impossible. For those who struggle to stay organized, it is imperative to enhance this skill set ASAP.
How Do Your Futures Trading Skills Stack Up?
To learn more about how to develop your skills as a trader, check out the online educational suite at Daniels Trading. Featuring expert analysis, webinars, and trading guides, it is a valuable resource for anyone interested in becoming a successful futures market participant.