In today’s article, I will give you 5 very simple, yet very important tips that are helping me today to better results of my ATS. I didn’t do any of these things in the beginnings and it was a big fault – you should avoid such a mistake.
1. Regular reoptimization – I wasn’t doing it.
Some time ago I have performed an interesting analysis of several of my systems and it showed me really important point: The difference between regular reoptimization and long-term trading of fixed parameters can be really huge, especially in times, when your systems are not performing well. In my case, some of the under-performing strategies showed for the year 2014 up to 80% improvement, if reoptimized by the end of the year 2013. The results were really significant. For example one of the weakest strategies experienced a 5,000 USD loss in 2013, however, the reoptimized version had much more acceptable loss of 900 USD. Really, I can say that regular reoptimization helps to improve the performance of the systems – especially during the bad times. Personally, I reoptimize roughly once a year. It was a huge mistake I haven’t applied this concept of regular reoptimization from the beginning.
2. Smart use of 2 contracts (or even number of contracts) – for a long time I wasn’t aware of this simple trick.
There are certain situations in the markets that are extremely promising for nice profits. One of the most simple examples can be the day of the week. I am sure, that you have some strategies in your portfolio which perform better in a certain day of the week, than in other days. I use these situations to change the number of contracts – i.e. I trade twice as many contracts than I would trade otherwise, to get the most out of this situation. You would be surprised how positive impact on equity curve can these simple tricks have – quite often the equity gets nicely smoothed. Of course, you need to be creative and think of new situations that you could use for the change of the number of contracts.
In the beginnings, I wasn’t using these simple tricks, I underestimated them and learned them after some time. But they really can dramatically improve the overall stability of your portfolio.
3. Try swing strategies. I was hesitating too long with adding them to my portfolio.
If you prefer the day-trading ATS, don’t focus too much on them and try some strategies that don’t close positions at the end of the day. You can add to them certain profit target and leave them open for several days. I found out that strategies like these can really help with the diversification. Even in the year 2014, which was quite a bad year for index breakout strategies, the swing strategies were doing really well – comparing to the intraday ones. Personally, I use a combination of both. With some systems I close half of my contracts by the end of the day and the other half I close on fixed profit target – even though it might take days the profit target to get hit. Or, for less stress, nice, and relaxing weekend, I can close the position by the end of the day on Friday.
If I had swing strategies in my portfolio since the beginning, I would have been doing much better – especially during the bad times. Today I already know that having only daytrading strategies in my portfolio is not sufficient if I want to have a quality distribution of profits.
4. Even a very small diversification is a diversification.
This is one of the things I have been doing correctly from the beginning. I add it to this list just to point it out and to protect you from doing this mistake.
The diversification into more markets is absolutely crucial and even a micro-diversification counts and is really important. For example, if I have a small account and I should decide between two systems for two different index market and one and the same system trading two totally different markets (an index and a grain market), I would always prefer the second option. Two different markets will help you to diversify much better than any two, even low-correlated systems trading the same markets. This is my experience and this is what I do. Diversify any way you can.
5. Work together. I did not do it, but working with other traders helps me to move forward much faster.
This is my last advice – even though it is slightly different from the previous ones. It is a simple advice – work together with other ATS traders. It will bring you better results and you will make the progress faster.
A couple of years ago, I met a trader from Australia and I was surprised that he shared with me, the first time we met, his best know-how. Of course, I did the same thing. The result is that we are “growing” together for some time because we continue in sharing the best we know – and both of us get richer. The important point is that the sharing traders should be on the same level, otherwise this idea doesn’t really work.