Self study trading?

Wondering if there are any self Tought traders, and what recourses they used to learn. I understand that making consistent profit is virtually 0 but I'd still like to try. Who knows maybe I'll make a few hundred bucks. 

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Nov 24, 2021 - 5:44pm

Long post on what I did, literally almost 10 years since I first learned what trading was in college, or you can skip to the tldr below (what I would recommend today):

I knew vaguely what investing was, but didn't come across the actual term of "trading" until the middle of my freshman year (I went to a target school). I learned that you can buy and sell stocks on the go but was also told that "unless you have a 5-6 figures of money, you're just going to get eaten up by transaction fees". Undeterred, I tried to read up as much as possible on trading and learned that beyond stocks, you can also trade other asset classes such as bonds, currencies, commodities, etc. Given that the transactional costs for FX was much cheaper than stocks, it was 24/5, and it was focused globally, I decided to go with currencies as my weapon of choice for learning how to trade. Some of the earliest stuff I did - I literally browsed this forum non stop and tried to pick up all the slang, as well as catch the nuances of how recruiting works, what I can expect in a career, etc. I pored through all the "AMA's" and took notes religiously what the seasoned traders were sharing on here. I also compiled a list of all the "recommend readings" from various traders. While it's probably changed a lot since then and not universal, some of the classic reads included "The Intelligent Investor", "Reminiscences of a Stock Operator, "When Genius Failed", "Liar's Poker", "Market Wizards", "Big Short", "Flash Boys", etc. Note most of these weren't "how to become a trader" but moreso about giving perspective from different points of views. Nonetheless, very insightful reads. I also went through entire coursework from this website , which I'm going to emphasize is geared for retail trading (a slowly dying section of our industry), but still has some nice concepts you can learn. 

I also tried to learn poker on the side, and for a decent period, this took priority over trading at one point but never mind that. I don't think poker's necessarily a "must have" but I can personally say there's a lot of parallels to be drawn from both professions that can carry over. I was by no means a card shark, but playing poker gave me a humbling experience and understanding on dealing with swings, risk management, etc, but you probably already heard of that. After reading those books, continuing to learn poker, I started getting into more technical stuff. I'm sure you've heard of the book "Heard on the Street" - I kept spamming the questions until I knew it inside out. I continued seeking all the other recommended reads such as "Options, Futures, and other Derivatives", "The Quants", and really a lot of other books that I had no business or technical ability to understand it, but kept on trying my best to catch the gist anyway. I also came to realize that having a programming background was a major asset in this business, so I did my best to enroll in some of the more introductory courses and tried to pick up books like on here for example:…

At this point, you have to realize I'm just some broke college kid, didn't really have too much guidance (99% of my friend group were either pre law, pre-med, maybe some banking, consulting, etc), so I kind of just had to figure it out as I went. I spent the entire summer busing tables at the dining hall and scrapped together $2k to finally try and start my own account. I had a pretty zealous mindset and what not but I think I ended up punting it all away in a few weeks - I went big on a NZD/USD trade that I had strong conviction after a Central Bank decision. My thesis was correct but my entry/exit strategy and risk management were way off. It was a tough pill to swallow, but I had a good rationale for why I did what I did, and to this day, I'm frankly quite proud of taking the imitative and pursuing something I was curious about - a quality that received very great reception in future interviews, but that's besides the point. 

I decided to focus on bolstering my academic credentials. I tried to find all classwork related to trading in any way, be it macroeconomics, stoch calculus, probability & stats, etc. I'll tell you right now that 95% of what you learn in school is probably going to be irrelevant to the actual work you'll dive in when you start your job, but I still encourage prospective traders to keep learning and pushing themselves anyway. Meanwhile, I just continued pursuing side projects but still followed the markets regularly. I didn't want to tunnel-vision myself too much with just trading so I started approaching it with a wider view. For instance, this post is not something you would find in a strictly trading forum (it's in the HF forum) but this really changed my framework and expanded my thought process a lot:…

At this point, my biggest priority wasn't to make money (though a very welcome byproduct to anyone I'd imagine!), and I was genuinely more interested on how trading works. I eventually stumbled on and there's a TON of articles on how you can shape yourself for a Quant/trading job. I explored beyond WSO an found myself in other more specialized forums like Wilmott, Nuclear Phynance, etc. By the end of college, I had a pretty nice toolkit in that I had the chops to pass most technical rounds (math/basic coding), able to talk shop comfortably on a conversational level, demonstrated a lot of passion, and just a very open minded view. If all else failed on acquiring a trading job, I probably would've tried it on the side anyway for fun. I would also say as I finish my preaching, the best traders eventually come up with their own, unique style. It's fine to copy blindly from your superiors at first when you're starting out and covering the basics, but over time, if you truly wanna excel, you're not going to become as good as the best in the world just by mimicking what they do - you need to figure out what works best for you and how you can maximize your potential. Probably an extremely cliché saying, but I just have to say it's true. I had the fortune of learning from a lot of successful, seasoned traders and while certain parts of my mindset echo how they think, overall, I'm happy to say I have my own way of approaching trading that they've probably never thought of - I'm not saying at all I'm a "better" trader than them, just emphasizing I have my unique comforts and process now. 


-Strictly for getting a job: get good at prob/stats, learn some coding fundamentals, keep up a good gpa, play the numbers game, have a solid understanding and view of the markets; remember, you don't have to necessarily be right, just the conviction to back up why you think that way and such. it also helps to "stand out", whether it's some unique hobby you pursued, 1st in a trading competition, math Olympiad, etc

-Learning how to trade: honestly, the learning resources are abundant. I will take with a grain of salt with "self-proclaimed gurus" on YouTube, but for the most part, it's very easy to find a book that teaches you all about technical analysis. I'd encourage not learning strictly about trading, but getting a more holistic picture. Pick a market you like (equities, fixed income, derivatives), learn all aspects to it, listen to podcasts/AMA's on successful traders, get a solid sense of markets, learn by doing. 

Also, while most people recommend paper trading, I think putting skin in the game is just a faster and way more effective way to learn. By all means though, use paper trading to learn the rules and operations of how trading works, but when it comes to actual strategy execution, that's when you wanna up the ante. 

"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity"
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Nov 24, 2021 - 6:14pm

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