Thursday, July 21, 2005

Scale Fish not Trades

I have from time to time worked on different scaling into methods for my trading systems. For those not familiar with scaling into trades it involves adding to an existing position based on some condition met. The condition could be a new equity high, a new break-through in the price of the security, or whatever you can imagine. But, aye, there's your first clue.

Condition? Entry? Why this sounds like a new trading system to me. And that's just exactly what this is. Anytime you add a are initiating a brand new trade. With new conditions, rules, entries, exits, etc. Let's put this into system terms.

You are trading one system and enter a trade for 100 shares of stock XYZ. If you want to scale into XYZ again with another 100 shares...the first thing you should ask yourself is what condition will need to be met in order to buy another 100 shares? And with this means testing different entry methods. Seriously, what are you doing when you begin to explore entry methods? You got it...creating a new system. Sure, you may be using your original system as a filter for the trade. But, don't limit yourself to the same exit and position sizing rules as the original system. And don't limit your original system to the position sizing rules of this new one. If it's true you're finding success with scaling into a stock 2 or 3 times. Maybe, just maybe, you need to rethink your existing system's entry rules.

Think about it. If you're creating a trading system and you have thrown the kitchen sink at testing different entry methods to obtain the best possible entry point in the stock. Then why would you short-change yourself with your position sizing strategy by cutting it in half, thirds, or worse yet...quarters? If you honestly think you're served better by not loading the full deck at the first entry point and better waiting to get fully loaded at the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th entry point...then possibly you'd be better off just using those conditions as filters to your system and wait to pull the trigger until all those conditions are met. Understand?

Don't get your feathers ruffled by my comments. I have heard from countless traders that scaling into positions changed their lives and they found great success this way. And due to this I have tested and retested scaling into trades in all my systems. And on every system I have created...scaling into a trade produced mixed results. Not one garnered better results than the original non-scaling method. But, like I said, my original method was already tested for the optimal entry point. So, it's safe to assume that cutting my position size would only worsen the performance of the system. And add a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th level of complexity.

Let's get serious about this...look at the trades you scaled. Put the pencil to the paper and determine what scaling did to you and your money. Don't pick just one trade that was a winner. Pick least 25 seperate trades. 50 trades would be even better.

Calculate what would have happened if you didn't scale at all and had your full position on from the first entry. If you did better then you're trading the best entry and why short-change? If you did worse then go a step further...calculate what would have happened if you didn't take the first entry at all...just used that as a filter for the 2nd entry and that's where you had you're full position on. Yes, this would mean some trades from that series wouldn't have been taken due to the filter. That's okay...that's just what a filter is. Screens your entries for the best possible point. Take this exercise as far as your scales go.

One last thing in regard to the exercise I gave you. You may well find that you have two or three valid systems on your hands rather than just the one after analyzing your past trades. If this is the case...spend some time seperating these systems, devising new exit rules & position strategies for each. And retest your past trades with the new rules applied.

If after all this, you still find that scaling into trades works better...then more power to you. JKD, dude.

Now, I will tell you where I have found success in scaling. Scaling out of trades. Aye, that's where the true magic lies. Stay tuned to Part II where I discuss how scaling out of trades can improve winning percentage, drawdown, net profit, and more.

Are you wondering where the Aye's are coming from? Well, I've read a book recently that is off the hook. Hawke by Ted Bell. One of those novels that grab you in the first few pages and don't let go! It's about a bad-ass British dude that is a descendent of Blackhawke, the pirate. There's boats, treasure, sharks, the Caribbean, nuclear submarines, Navy Seals, and even Castro himself. It'd make a great movie.

Another good summer read is a book I bought my wife a few weeks ago. The Summer I Dared by Barbara Delinsky. Again with the ocean stuff but this time covers Maine and the lobstermen, father and son, mother and daughter, and I'll admit some more sappy stuff. But, hey, it's good. I really enjoyed the description of the lobster business and the people who live up in Maine. My wife's favorite passage in the book is the following: "Real intelligence is like a river; the deeper it is, the less noise it makes."

My favorite passage was when father was speaking to son, "Barely a third of my high school class went to college, and none of those applied to the ones I did. That gave me an edge in the admissions process. Apply to different schools from those your friends choose. Pick ones you like. Don't be pressured by anyone else, not by me or your mother or the college counselor, and certainly not by your friends. Here's your chance to do what you want, for a change. Go for it." Yep, that's me...always looking for the independent view...even in a sappy novel. :)

And last but certainly not least. Get a load of this...the 2006 Dodge Charger! Talk about American marketing hard at work! And the worst part??? I want one!!! Ha ha.

Later Trades,


1 comment:

jontait said...


I can't help but think that I've maybe inspired this post in some small way. Whether or not this is true, your advice is timely. I've been scaling in, and also out of trades far more than normal over the past couple of weeks because I knew I could push my luck due to a variety of factors, and I've been writing about it.

You are absolutely correct that each buy is based on its own set of conditions, hence it is its own system and can be (probably should be) thought of as independent. Thanks for sharing the conclusions based on your experiences. This is something I need to sleep on for sure.