I get a lot of email, and a lot of questions, so here in time honoured tradition, is a list of Freqently Asked Questions. You may also want to watch my Q&A video, which answers some of the same questions in a visual manner.
Q: What broker do you recommend?
A: I don’t. Choosing a broker is like choosing a car, it’s a very personal thing. There are hundreds of cars on the market, but they all do the same thing – they get you from A to B. Your choice will be determined by how you expect to use the vehicle. A car for running the kids to school probably won’t look much like one used for towing horses round the countryside, or one used for racing on track days.
Choosing a broker is the same. There are loads of them out there. Your choice should be informed by the way you’ll use the broker; the kind of thing you’re going to trade, how often, the time frame you expect to trade in, the size you will be trading. You’ll also want to take into account where in the world you live, where in the world the market you will be trading is located, the currencies involved and how money will be transferred between you and the broker.
And of course, price will probably be a consideration too. As will the type of service you need – newbie friendly, or cold and efficient.
So when it comes to choosing a broker, treat the task as you would choosing a new car. Make a list of your requirements, then check out who meets them, and add them to a shortlist. Then speak to those brokers on your shortlist. Ask yourself, is this someone you can work with? Do they inspire confidence? Are they likely to be around in another year? Another five years? Then take a test drive. Most credible brokers offer test accounts so you can get a feel for how they operate. Make use of them.
Finally, never be afraid to change broker. It’s not a marriage, if things aren’t working out there is nothing wrong with dropping them and moving on. The same applies if you find your own needs change, there is no reason not to move to a new outfit better suited to your different circumstances.
Q: What software do you recommemd?
A: I don’t. My answer to this question is exactly the same as the broker question above.
Q: How much money do I need to start trading stocks?
A: While the perfect scenario is to have about $30k available, which will let you open a standard brokerage account with any regular discount broker, not everyone has that kind of cash lying round. Fortunately, there are other options.
One is to look for an umbrella trading account. Such accounts pool your funds internally with those of other traders, thus circumventing rules on minimum account sizes. To all intents and purposes, you’re trading your own account – there’s just some financial sleight of hand going on behind the scenes! Such accounts can typically be opened with a couple of thousand dollars.
Another option, and by far the cheapest, is to start by trading CFDs. The ease of opening a CFD account will depend on where you are in the world. The advantages of CFDs are low minimum account balances (just a few hundred dollars), commission free trading, and free data and charting. On the downside, not all stocks are available to trade as CFDs, and the spread is a little larger (hence no commission). However, for getting started, CFDs are an excellent choice.
There are other ways to trade more cheaply, and these are discussed at greater length in the book. Suffice it to say, if you have a few hundred dollars available, you can always find a way to get started.
Q: What’s the software you are trading with in your videos?
A: In the live trade videos, the software is eSignal. It’s great as a charting package, but I don’t recommend its use for order entry. The only reason I use it in the videos is that it makes it very easy to see what I am doing. But for regular trading, I use the broker supplied software for order entry. The reason is simple – if anything goes wrong, it’s the brokers problem. If anything goes wrong when using third party software (eg orders don’t get transmitted), the broker can (and usually will) place the blame firmly with the third party.
Q: How much money can I make trading?
A: That’s a real “how long is a piece of string?” type question. The answer might be that you will make ten thousand dollars a day, or it might be that you will lose ten thousand dollars a day. Or it might be anywhere inbetween.
The stock market offers the potential for thousands of dollars profit per day, even when trading from a modest account. However, what you will personally make comes down to how well you trade, and that in turn comes down to your own discipline. A book or course can show you what needs to be done, but the trader has to be able to actually do it. Sounds easy in practice, and it should be. But when every decision you make directly affects how much money is going to be in your account at the end of the day, taking those decisions can be hard. Sometimes in trading, it’s necessary to take a loss, and many people just can’t bring themseves to do that.
So I can’t answer the question in the way most people would like. When people ask me this, they want to hear “You will make two thousand dollars a day without fail!” Maybe that’s the case, but it’s down to the individual. That kind of profit is certainly there for the taking, and relative to making that kind of money in just about any other industry I can think of, it’s not that hard to do. But neither is it easy.
Q: How long will it take before I become profitable?
A: See above. Same thing applies. Some of my students are profitable right off the bat. Some take years before they get there. Most fall somewhere in between (although those taking a year or more are in the minority). Some give up before they ever get profitable, so they go in search of the next “get rich quick” idea. Trading isn’t a way to get rich quickly. It’s a way to get very rich, slowly.
Q: Can you put up videos of your trading every day?
A: No, for several reasons. The first is that I don’t trade every day, I don’t need to. I trade for the freedom it offers, not so much for the money. As long as I make enough to live a (admittedly very) comfortable lifestyle, I see no need to work more often than necessary. So I don’t trade every day.
Secondly, running recording software and managing it, gets in the way of trading. I have to trade smaller size when I video my trading, to mitigate the extra risks of doing all the recording stuff, so making those videos costs me a fair bit in missed profit. And finally, I don’t honestly believe it adds any value to my site by making loads of those videos. There are more than enough in the archives here to show what’s possible, putting up more would feel like I was turning this site into some kind of money-porn!
Q: Is your book suitable for beginners?
A: Yes. There are two parts to the book, and part one deals with the absolute basics. You don’t need to have any idea about stocks or trading to delve in. And many seasoned traders tell me they learnt something from part one as well.
Q: Does your book teach me how to trade longer term, or is it just about day trading?
Q: Is your book only about trading stocks, or can I use it to learn to trade forex / futures / options?
Q: I live in the UK / Australia / India / somewhere else outside the USA, will your book be any use to me?
A: The concepts covered in part one are valid for any time frame, trading any instrument (stocks, futures, forex etc), anywhere in the world. Part two however, is my own stock trading strategy, and is specifically for day trading US stocks. Many readers tell me they have adapted the strategy to their own market outside the US, with great success. However, if you’re looking for a specific forex or futures strategy, this probably isn’t the best book for you. And if you want to trade options, you certainly need something more specific to those.
Q: I don’t have a Kindle, can I get your book another way?
A: You don’t have to have a physical Kindle device to read the book. Amazon offer free Kindle reader software for PCs, Macs, iPhones, iPads, and Android devices. This software lets you read the book just like if you had an actual Kindle.
The book is also available on Apple’s iBooks store for iPhones and iPads, here, as well as on the Nook from Barnes and Noble here, and the Kobo reader here. Finally, if none of those appeal, there is a PDF version available here.