Every pro basketball player…
Every pro footballer…
Every pro golfer…
Every successful Olympic athlete…
Has(d) a coach.
In fact they probably had many.
Most were coached from an early age as their parents recognised that good quality early education was crucial. Picking up bad habits at the start could lead to problems down the road.
No different with occupations
Plumbers and electricians serve apprenticeships under experienced tradespeople.
Nurses and doctors serve hundreds of hours under supervision before they can operate alone.
Young chefs will serve under more experienced chefs before they even contemplate going it alone.
Yet so many traders think they can just ‘pick it up as they go along’. They seek advice from other amateurs rather than from pros. Somehow they think that this incredibly tough skill can be learned for free and without qualified guidance of a professional.
Some seek out unlicensed, pirated copies of real education that they cannot verify to be accurate or be confident has not been altered or missing updates.
“If you think it is expensive to be taught by a pro, wait until you get taught by an amateur”
But it’s different for pro traders
Interestingly though, I would say that almost all real professional traders had guidance along the way, particularly in the early days.
In his book “Chaos Kings”, Scott Patterson explains how Nassim Taleb went down to the CME trading pits to learn how to trade. Even though he hated the environment, Taleb understood that he could learn many lessons down there. In fact, sharing skills and information was always a key aspect of the trading pits. They were an excellent (if tough) place to learn to trade.
Junior traders at banks and hedge funds always learned from their seniors before they could trade on their own. I myself, started as a ticket runner on a trading desk before moving to assistant trader and only then being given my own trading book.
Most banks that I worked at also brought in experts in certain fields to teach us. Even at the highest level, pros will pay for education.
Without doubt, this education is a key input into the success of professional traders. I know that I would not be here without the guidance of some excellent traders.
Seeking out education
I understand there are many charlatans in the trading education world and this might put some people off of seeking education.
But with some good due diligence you can find some good educators.
What to look for
Does the educator have a career in the professional industry as a trader? There are many educators with no real background in the professional industry and there are others who worked for banks, brokers etc but were not traders; they were analysts or brokers.
Avoid people who promote potential earnings in their marketing material.
Avoid educators who say it only requires an hour a day and show themselves sitting around a pool etc.
Those offering simple chart based set-ups or indicators are unlikely to be professional or offer anything sustainable.
In short, look for educators who are not selling a lifestyle or telling you that trading is easy or that everyone can trade successfully.
Testimonials and Statements
What about testimonials and account statements? Surely these offer evidence of a good trader/educator?
When researching my book Technical Analysis Exposed I came across many junk trading educators who all offered lots of glowing testimonials and account statements. They meant nothing. There are many ways to create positive yet misleading testimonials and trading statements.
Unfortunately these are not a reliable source of information.
Paying for education – varied outcomes
It is possible that you will pay for education that you may not like or not use. I myself have encountered that. Early in my career, I attended two technical analysis courses run by well known practitioners in the belief that it would improve my trading. But I found that I could not accept the underlying assumptions and ideas behind t/a. However, this information was still useful in that it helped me to understand how t/a traders operated and in part, the Norden Method has been designed to pick off the weaknesses of t/a traders based on this knowledge.
In addition to the ‘free’ guidance that I have obtained from colleagues along the way, I have also attended many paid courses with varied outcomes. I accept this is part of the process and even if I didn’t like the course content I look for ways that I can use at least some of the information gained in some way.
The education that I and my peers received from more experienced traders early in our careers was invaluable.
Just like other professions, we served a kind of apprenticeship as an assistant/junior trader before we traded on our own. There was a learning pathway that we all undertook.
We would not be where we are without it.
It is a pathway that I have tried to replicate with the Norden Method. No shortcuts. Exams need to be passed and the learning process should take months at least with guidance from an experienced trader.
When I started to play golf, I was initially taught by a friend. I got to a reasonable standard but when things started to go wrong I had no idea how to fix my swing. In the end I had to go to a pro and start again. I am glad I eventually made that decision otherwise I would probably have given up playing golf.
Once I had established myself as a decent trader, I was asked by a number of banks to teach their traders and run trader education programs. My employers rightly viewed it as essential that my skills and experience were handed down to new traders.
I too sought out specialist education.
If you are one of the many struggling retail traders who thinks you don’t need education, I would strongly suggest you think again and seek out an experienced pro. There are things they can teach you that you might never find out on your own.