Routines to maintain a healthy trading portfolio
The daily trading routine
One of the challenges every trader faces is how to establish a daily/weekly time slot for trading the markets, especially if the trader is a retail trader, one that has a full-time job, family, hobbies, etc.., in these situations it is challenging to find some time in the busy daily schedule to take care of the portfolio and trading effectively.
The way to overcome this challenge is twofold:
- Keep records of the time of day you have found for trading
- Maintain a weekly trading routine
This is the topic of this article – how to set up a weekly routine to maintain the portfolio in the desired state , not neglecting it so it may grow consistently.
Habits are formed over the years as we make the same behavior pattern, again and again. As we are productive human beings we fill our daily schedule with activities that we feel will contribute to our mental state – we go to work, have a family, kids and hobbies.
Once a new activity comes along it has to squeeze in between the other activities as there are only 24 hours a day, and some of us needs to sleep .. so finding time for something new is very challenging as everyone who has tried to go to a gym, start a diet, or read a new book will tell you.
What’s that has to do with trading?
Once you have started to trade the markets you start to understand that this is not a “set it and forget it” kind of activity, the portfolio has to be maintained on a weekly basis, in case you are a position or swing trader and sometimes even more frequent in case you are a day trader. Taking the time to take care of your nest egg is an important realization that all traders arrive at right after the first order they gave their broker, add to that the fact that the larger, more positions, you have in your portfolio, the more time you will need in order to keep it in good shape, more open positions means more time invested in the open positions to make sure they are aligned with your trading plan.
So how do you find the time to maintain a healthy portfolio?
There are some steps to this process but the first one is the most important one and this is recording your trading schedule! Doing this as a first step for 2-3 weeks will generate data regarding your trading schedule so you may make a data-based decision regarding when (days and time of day) you are in a trade-ready state. When you start to maintain a portfolio you will do that in random hours during the week – you start on one night, and then you find time when you are on the train and the day after you start late so you have time in the morning, and so on, logging and recording each time you have traded in a simple notebook (App?) will help you generate data as to when can you tear a hole in your busy schedule in order to find effective trading time.
Log every trading start and end time for at least 2-3 weeks and then have a meeting with yourself to see if there are repetitions in the schedule – those repetitions (same time of same day) are your starting point to create a weekly trading routine, it takes us as human being 3 weeks to get rid of old habits, as the research goes, so after 3 weeks it’s a good time to set the days and time of day for an effective trade session.
Weekly trading routine
After establishing what is the best time during the week for you to trade, we move to phase II which is to keep a trading routine that is build of 4 steps that has to be repeated every time you actually start a trading session, here are the steps:
- Screening – in this step you try to find new candidates to go into your portfolio, you start from a big universe of stocks, say the S&P500, and use any screener you like to reduce the number of candidates to a sizeable group, 15-20 candidates sounds manageable as you will see in the next step.
Screening criteria may be PE lower than X, A good piece of news about a specific company or any technical filter such as the 50 day SMA is above the 200 day SMA, as long as this step reduces the large universe into a manageable size.
- Selection – now you confront the group from step 1 with your trading strategy entry criteria, in case it does not match the entry criteria, it’s out! plain and simple, in case it complies with the entry criteria it’s in, again, plain and simple. Trading strategy entry criteria may be a breakout, momentum, etc.
- Order – now we have an asset we would like to add to our portfolio, the only question is when? use different order types to add an asset to the portfolio, in case you would like the asset to be added immediately use a market order, and future orders are stop and limit orders.
Most important, the transition from step 2 is a non-brainer, robotic and without further screening , in case you have decided in step 2 that an asset should be added to the portfolio, it should be there or at least waiting as future order (stop, limit) to be added once the future trad strategy conditions are met.
Of course, stop loss should be placed right after the order is issued.
- Open orders – now is a good time to take care of the existing open positions in the portfolio, go over those one by one , see if they are aligned with the trading strategy, check the trading journal to see if the reason for opening the position is still valid and weed out the ones that are not aligned .
The trading routine outlined above will keep you on the right course as you maneuver the market ocean, use it and build on it to customize it to your own needs, I would love to hear from you in case you are using it differently or any other comment you have on the trading routine suggested above,