Stuart McPhee - Author of Trading in a Nutshell

In this episode of Better System Trader Andrew Swanscott interviews Stuart McPhee. Stuart has over twenty years of trading experience. He is an author, trading coach and financial advisor. Like many traders in these podcasts Stuart started trading during the dotcom boom and was very profitable when everything was rising in the late 1990’s but lost it all when the market crashed in the early 2000’s. The lessons learned during this boom/bust cycle helped him become the successful trader he is today.  Stuart is the author of Trading in a Nutshell.  One of his favourite trading quotes is: “Your mindset is the single biggest factor in your trading success” and this concept is discussed in detail in the podcast. Stuart compares trading to the Petronas Towers in Malaysia in where one third of the height of the tower is in its foundation.  Similarly, to be a successful trader you need to have a good trading foundation or knowledge base.  In the interview Stuart compares trading to the bamboo plant. Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants but for the first few years you don’t see any growth above ground because it’s growing the root structure that will support its future growth.  You need to do the same with your trading. Build a solid base, which is your trading strategy and trading knowledge, that will support your future trading success.  Stuart notes that even after over twenty years of trading he still has more to learn. He realizes that has no control over what the market does he can only control how he reacts. His best trading advice is that traders should aim for constant, gradual improvement and not look for overnight success. Like many of the other traders we have featured, Stuart’s favourite trading book is Market Wizards by Jack Schwager.

Trading advice from the Podcast that will make you a better trader:

  • Trading is simple but it is not easy.
  • To be a good trader you need to have a good attitude, realistic expectations, be willing to put in the effort and set realistic trading goals.
  • The barrier to entry for trading is low. There is no formal training for traders as there is for other professions so many people start trading with very little knowledge of the market.
  • It takes a long time to become a good trader. It takes much more time than most people anticipate.
  • Most traders start with no plan and just make random trading decisions.
  • One of the biggest mistake’s traders make is trading without a plan or defined process.
  • Most new traders are sold on the idea that it is easy to make money trading. It’s not easy.
  • There is a lot of false advertising in the trading industry that gives people false expectations of how you can quickly make a lot of money. This is not true.
  • These days it’s too easy to trade using leverage which can significantly magnify your losses.
  • Most trader don’t fully understand the risk involved with trading.
  • Each trader needs to develop a risk tolerance that matches their personality and that they are comfortable with.
  • You need define your stop loss exit and profit stop exit for all trades.
  • Mindset or psychology is the most important factor in trading. You need to have control over your emotions to be successful.
  • You need to have the discipline to consistently execute your trading plan.
  • You need to be able to maintain your enthusiasm, or passion, for trading even after a losing streak.
  • To be successful you need to keep pushing forward.
  • You need discipline to follow your trading strategy. When you have a trading strategy you always know the right thing to do, the hard part is doing it.
  • To be successful you must treat trading as a rules-based activity.
  • Trading is unfair. It’s easy to make mistake if you are not focused. One bad trade can undo the nineteen good trades before it.
  • Most actions you need to take to be a good trader are counter-intuitive to normal human emotions.
  • People always want to get something cheap or on sale but the best trades usually come from buying trending stocks that are near their all-time highs.


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