the journey so far ...
"I’ve learned that when a man with money meets a man with experience, the man with experience ends up with the money and the man with the money ends up with experience.” H.Jackson Brown, Jnr
Do you have a passion for trading or is it just an obsession? .. "yes"? .. well welcome to my world ...
The 90's was a very exciting time, if like me, you were in the IT industry. In 1995 I can remember showing my Dad something called "web surfing" using a "browser" on my PC running MicroSoft Windows 3.1. It seemed like witch craft and one could feel smug (if necessary) as part of a rather exclusive society knowledgeable in mysteries such as, something called "the Internet" and "email" (or Java if you really wanted to be a wow at parties) or a "world wide web" (what kind of spiders weave them! we would all eventually find out). Aracnacadabra!. But with all this going on in the background the real world was preoccupied by "the Y2K bug". To cut a very long story (and my reminiscing) short, all of this was driving massive innovation in IT which produced hundreds of new companies overnight offering clever solutions to problems and opportunities we didn't know we had ... yet - we can label this period as the time of "the Dot Com Boom" or "bubble" as it became (if you were a stock market speculator as I later became).
During this time I was fortunate enough to be working with some of the most innovative companies in IT and naturally got caught up in the new fashion (hype) for buying shares in some of these emerging firms. They were all going up and up and up ... It didn't seem to matter what it was, if it had a ".com" in its name, it was a fast track to Barbados - or so it seemed - it made one feel like a stock market expert. (We were of course totally deluded). Popular sport over working lunches quoting NASDAQ statistics (another exclusive term). I personally accumulated a portfolio rich enough on paper to pay off my mortgage over about 12 months - CISCO, SUNW, I2, VSIO, (and others, how many are there still around?) and thought I'd cracked it. As we all know - bubbles eventually pop - as this one did - so no cigar for this greedy little nerd, as it turned out. I comfort myself however in the knowledge that I was just as deluded as the next man/woman and the thousands standing behind him/her. But what all this did do was to get me fascinated by markets.
For the next part of my story, we fast forward to December 2004. Flicking through a copy of Money Week (recommended to me by my financial advisor, Philip, at the time), I came across a snippet entitled "a day in the life of a spread bettor". Hmm... sounds grubby, so my curiosity was naturally piqued. I read this recurring snippet every week. Up until then I'd been buying real shares via a broker and paying them $12 a go for the privilege of using their services, not to mention paying tax on any proceeds. So this idea of just "taking a bet" on where a share was going seemed so much more efficient - well it would wouldn't it? It was fascinating, so I decided, eventually - to look into it and opened an account with E*Trade (other spread bettors are available) one of the many emerging spread betting companies now operating over the "internet". I started to dabble a few quid at a time, gambling really, (some might say - including my wife - and she was right - well, when is she not?) I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, until one day I was invited to a seminar (i.e "sales pitch") run by E*Trade at a hotel in the City. So on a frosty February evening in 2005 I trucked into London, found the posh hotel (free drinks and canapes etc at the door, bags with bumf in - you know the kind of thing) and took my seat.
There were a string of presentations extolling the magical benefits of the instrument and how "with just 20 minutes a day you too can quit your job". Thirteen years later, in 2018 as I write this, I'm not sure whether to chuckle a knowing, Yoda like chuckle or embed a Vader like fist through the screen of my PC whenever I read those words, which, incredulously and without hint of shame, are still used today. It's not that it is not possible to have a working day that starts at 09:00 and finishes at 09:20 (or perm any other 20 minute period) it's just that it will take (read that again - it WILL take) 1000's of hours of "screen time" to get to know what you're doing to that level of proficiency. So (IMHO) this whole 20 minutes thing is an incredibly disingenuous and poisonous carrot to use to tempt people (sometimes very desperate and vulnerable people at that) into this field. Anyone seen John Major? - I'm finished with the soap box - he can have it back now. Ommmm ... Nevertheless, I was hooked.
This website is a continuous work in progress providing some insight and commentary on what I have learned (and am continuing to learn) from being a greener than green and gullible chaser of trading rainbows, in 2005, to being a reasonably savvy and solvent practitioner, trading the markets today. I will describe what I have experienced as things that work, things that don't work, pot holes and traps to anticipate and how honouring the right half of your brain as much as you honour its left side, is a good idea. I will also refer to the kind of salt you need to take with you a pinch at a time when you read or attend sales pitches from those offering trading "systems" with all kinds of exotic names. The good news: I'm here to tell you and show you, if you like (via the contact page) is that it is possible to change how you make your living by learning how to trade - but (BUT = beware the underlying truth) - dear reader - don't let ANYONE tell you it's an easy journey - there is work to do and you need to stick with it. But whilst it takes discipline to keep yourself on track mentally and keep your money long enough to make it work for you (rather than for someone else), the actual work of trading is not hard at all - in fact if you're like me, I don't see it as work at all - it's my passion - but I guess work is the best word available. And the rewards - for most they will say it's "money" (how crude) - for me it's much more important than that. Time - to make a difference.
So humour the snake oil sellers. Avoid their slippery substances and stay away from their fangs and coils - ("ok, enough reptilian metaphors already" - Ed.)
Please feel free to browse these pages and contact me with comments and / or questions but before embarking on your own trading journey, if there was only one piece of wisdom I'd pass on, know this - whereas you can make money as a retail trader (that's what I am), the market and the industry is 1000% geared to take your money away from you and it is ruthless in that pursuit. It doesn't care if you're a single parent on income support or if you own a fleet of Sunseekers moored up off Sandbanks - it will take your money away given the smidgenest smidgen (and that's very small indeed) of a chance! Remember that, become 100% OK with it and you will always be at peace with every trade you take.
But don't let me put you off! This is a fascinating business and I wouldn't stop doing it, even if I had that fleet of Sunseekers! I hope you find something useful and inspirational here and if I can help further please contact me. All the best - Mark
Mark Hodgson is Director of Trading at Bluepowder Consulting Ltd which he established in April 2007 initially as a vehicle for providing advisory services to his "native" IT industry. He is an independent trader specialising in foreign exchange (ForEx) and a Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) which he has used in coaching and in business since 1999. He is married to Anita, with whom he has 3 grown up children and lives in Berkshire, England.