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Tony Ryan, spot trader 1968-1984, London and Hong Kong

My spot trading was between 1968 to 75 in London and 76 to 84 in Hong Kong after which I ducked and dived in forwards, MM and futures and options before I was put out to pasture on the sales desk in 93 finally retiring in Feb 98.

There were some golden rules, remembering that as a market maker you must quote a two way price.

Earn yourself and your bank a solid reputation for reliability.

The first chop is the cheapest i.e Run the good and cut the bad.... fast!

Never quote from a square book, even if you don't hold a strong opinion take a small position on the toss of a coin and work your price around it ( See rule 1)

Volatility is your friend don't be nervous of it.

There is an element of luck in spot trading so always expect the unexpected....good or bad.

All the uncertainties are the same for every trader in every bank or trading house!!!

Don't read newspapers.. read markets. Economists usually qualify their opinions with " All things being equal". They never are.

All politicians are idiots or liars.

Don't take your work home. Set stops and go home and play with the children or smell the roses.

Technical analysis is just another fundamental..take it into account but don't rely on it.

Above all learn to separate decisions from outcomes, if you lose money but are sure you would take the same position under the same known circumstances don't beat yourself up.


David Deakin

Working on all three sides of the fence - broker, banker and customer - you can see how easily one faction can be irritated by the other two at any given time. Brokers think the banks are patronising and the customer are gulls. Bankers think the brokers are shallow and their own customers are stupid. Customers think the banks are greedy and the brokers are overpaid and irritating.

Goodness knows how the system works but it does. Automated transaction systems have rightfully established a significant market share; they are efficient and cost-effective. But you can't have a debate with the screen or ask its opinion and it won't take you for lunch (nowadays an historical irrelevance).

A market is about people. They share and debate opinions. They get drunk together. They have hopes and fears. They have ambitions, for themselves and for their positions. They swing from optimism to pessimism and back again, not always for the best of reasons. They can often go too far in one direction, on the wrong tack, without realising their error. And the market is a reflection of that psychology.

If you have a brilliant idea that everyone else has missed, run it past a colleague before you bet the farm on it. There will be somebody around to tell you how you have missed the point. He might be wrong but he will make you think.

The trend is your friend. Don't be the first to stand in front of a runaway truck.

The first cut is the cheapest: run profits, cut losses.

Listen to what other people tell you. Even if you disagree with their opinion they are probably not the only ones to think like that.

Take the newswires with a pinch of salt. The reporters on Bloomberg and Reuters are doing their best but often they are just regurgitating a junior trader's off the cuff remark.

If you don't have a position (and it doesn't have to be a big one) you don't have an opinion. The reverse is also valid.

Keep a sense of proportion. You are not going to make money on every trade. If you can make money on six out of ten you will be doing fine.

Examine every position regularly. When you're long, ask yourself if you would be a buyer now. If the answer is no, consider closing it out.

Use stop and limit orders to police your position while you're away from your desk. It's a shame to miss a profit and even tougher when a small loss turns into a big one by accident.

Don't be stubborn. Remember what John Maynard Keynes said a century ago: The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent.

And when you lose the money, don't lose the lesson.

(David Deakin began his market career as a broker with M W Marshall in London and Kuwait, covering everything from spot FX to financial futures. He extended his stay in the Gulf for another three years as treasury manager of Coast Investment & Development Company. Returning to London in the mid-eighties he worked at EBC Amro before moving to set up the corporate desk at Nikko Bank. Five years as Treasurer of Bank of Bermuda Guernsey were followed by another return to London. After a stint as a consultant with software house Sungard he moved to ICAP's FTSE options desk. Since 2004 he has been writing FX market commentaries for currency specialist

Moneycorp plc .)

David Britton

I was given my first opportunity to become a foreign exchange dealer in 1968. Reporting to a good Chief Dealer I was made to learn my trade thoroughly, step by step and by example. I became a Chief Dealer myself at 25 and progressed through the ranks to head up the International Markets Division of a major Nordic Bank, retiring in 2001 as Advisor to the Markets Division. I survived and prospered for 33 years.

The first principle I was taught “Don’t try to hit tops and bottoms”. Don’t be greedy.

Start gently and build up your profits. Early in the day, early in the week, early in the month, early in the year.

Always have in mind what your profit expectations were when you took the position you are holding. You will seldom make a large profit from a small position. Be realistic.

Cut losses quickly, run your profits.

The market is always right.

Never risk more than you can afford to lose.

Never believe your own propaganda or try to delude yourself when you are wrong.

Companies usually fail because of cash-flow not lack of assets. Understand the cost of running a position. A “bear squeeze” when covering your day to day short position can cost you 10,000% per day. It’s happened often enough and cost careers.

Sometimes, you will instinctively know something is right, when you do, go for it. Learn to watch and listen!



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