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Build your own trading system - Investors Chronicle

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Created: 25 january 2013 Written by: Dominic Picarda

Good strategy is the key to long-term success in trading. Without a solid approach, our trades will tend to be random, and our results will thus be random too. Most of the time we devote to our trading ought to go into researching and refining our strategies, therefore. For most of us, however, it doesn't. Instead, we mainly occupy ourselves with the donkey-work of watching the markets and placing trades.

Ideally, then, we would automate as much of this effort as possible. Waiting for a trade to arise and placing an order is a job best suited to a computer. Until lately, though, computerised trading has required software and programming expertise that were out of many small traders' reach. The newest release of timetotrade's (www.timetotrade.eu) charting platform makes the whole business easier than ever before.

timetotrade lets you test out strategies in the equity and currency markets, and then sends you alerts when a real-life opportunity next arises. These could be on the daily timeframe or in second-by-second action. Although it offers 120 indicators, you don't have to write a single piece of programming code to summon them up. It's all done by clicking icons on the screen.

While I was getting a live demonstration last week, I took the chance to pick the brains of timetotrade's founder, Dary McGovern. He is an active trader who has been writing his own strategies for several years. He showed me a couple of his own creations in action, and the results were impressive. So, how should novices go about making their own winning strategy?

"Start with a blank piece of paper," says Mr McGovern. "Look at a chart and pick out when were the good times to buy and sell. Then identify what the technical indicators were saying at those moments. The basic elements you need to build your system are the trend and entry and exit signals. A popular way of defining a trend is with the direction of a moving average. I like to use the direction of the True Strength Index (TSI) in my own trading, though. A rising TSI represents an uptrend, and a falling one, a downtrend.

"You need to decide what timeframe you want to trade," says Mr McGovern. "The bigger the interval, the larger the moves you can capture, but also the more risk there is. I like to trade off the one minute chart, looking for gains of 10 pips at a time. This way, the system will offer up lots of trades. But I also have a daily filter where I am aiming for moves of 200 pips, and risking 50 pips or so.

"It also pays to focus on a particular market. Different markets have different characteristics, so you need to tailor your system to what you're trading. Identify what sort of range it tends to move in, and whether it tends to be spiky in its movements. I find the euro-dollar a particularly good market for my own purposes.

"When it comes to getting out of losing positions, I like to sell my position into strength. If you cut your losses on a buy trade when the market is really oversold, you usually then sit and watch it snap back straight afterwards. So, I usually try and aim to close out once this happens."

I'll be reviewing the timetotrade platform and some basic strategies in the coming weeks.

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