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From Zero to Hero: How I Became a Forex Trader

This year marks twelve years of trading for me. It's been a long journey with extreme periods of frustration and excitement.

To describe my journey in a few words... It's been emotional.

I am in awe of what I've achieved, but I understand the sacrifice and hard work necessary to get me where I am today.

The journey wasn't just about developing technical skills. It was more about self-discovery, persistence, and a willingness to adapt. Ultimately, this made me successful - my willingness to learn and do what was needed to become profitable.

The last couple of years have been incredibly successful. I have progressed from a bog-standard trader to a professional. I honestly mean it from the bottom of my heart. I can talk the talk and walk the walk. I have the experience. I know the lingo. I see the markets and understand why they are moving.

I am a risk expert. I know what to avoid, and I also know when the markets are signalling lucrative trading opportunities.

Please don't misunderstand me. I frequently have losing trades and have no crystal ball. I only catch some currency swings. However, I know what I am doing, and my past performance shows consistency and a transparent trading edge.

I am not just a Forex trader but also a Forex investor. I seek to take advantage of global opportunities by forecasting future interest rates and shifts in monetary policy. After twelve years of the grind, I genuinely say with great pride, 'I am a currency trader... and a good one'.

How I became a Forex trader

Becoming a Forex Trader: My Learning Curve

Where do I start?! I have come so far and learned so much!

It may be easier to break this down into three areas:

  • Technical skill

  • Fundamental skill

  • Psychological skill

Technical Skill

I learned this area first. The learning curve was steep and relatively quick.

For some reason, price charts and indicators appeal to most wannabee traders. They tend to learn technical analysis before anything else. Unfortunately, their learning curve starts and ends with technical analysis, which is insufficient to make it in the trading industry. However, more about this later.

In the beginning, I learned everything I could about technical analysis. Learning about technical indicators was a "lightbulb" moment for me. However, I soon realised I needed more than a moving average crossover to make me profitable. If only, hey?

Babypips was a great help for learning technical analysis. I took a number of the free classes, though the content and website were a little different back in 2012! I don't believe I ever "graduated", but I learned what I needed to understand and read price charts.

After Babypips, I spent most evenings watching a YouTube channel called 'Exact Trading' by Paul Langham. He was a pure price action trader. I loved it. I then read several trading books, including 'Naked Forex', 'The Naked Traders Guide to Spread Betting', and 'Reminiscences of a Stock Operator'.

I can break down my technical journey into the following segments:

  • Forex basics: currency pairs, trading sessions, using a demo account with a FX broker

  • Price action trends and ranges

  • Japanese candlesticks, including setups

  • Understanding different timeframes

  • Trend reversal patterns

  • Support and resistance

  • Various indicators, including Bollinger Bands, moving averages, the RSI, the Stochastic, Parabolic SAR, etc.

  • Fibonacci

  • Pivot points

  • Breakouts

  • The London open

  • Heikin Ashi

  • Multiple timeframe analysis

  • Divergence

I never adopted some of these tools and forms of analysis. I pay no attention to several of the technical skills I initially learned. I have never bothered to learn Elliott Wave Theory, harmonic price patterns, and Ichi Moku Kinko Hyo. I knew what I liked and stuck with it: price patterns, support and resistance, and candlestick setups.

I developed trading strategies based on layering several technical skills I had learned. My first strategy was trading CFDs of European indices using Oanda's fxtrade trading platform. The strategy was a trend-following strategy on the 15-minute chart. I waited for retrace moves of potential trends, a setup, and other criteria. As time passed, these strategies developed and became more complex.

With time, I also had to learn:

  • Risk management, including position sizing and using a PIP calculator

  • How to use the MT4 trading platform

  • And later on, how to use TradingView

Learning these technical skills was a crucial part of my trading success.

I use technical analysis daily. It is a significant element that influences my trading decisions.

However, more than technical analysis is required. Hence why so many traders fail. Too many traders believe that trying a new strategy, buying another technical course, or learning a new indicator is all it takes to make them profitable. This is a massive misconception that results in many traders failing to become successful. They refuse to be open-minded and incorporate more than technical analysis into their trading strategies. If they even have a trading strategy!

If we are honest, there is a belief in "easy" money in technical analysis. We convince ourselves that drawing a particular pattern, trading a specific setup or using a specific set of technical indicators will make us enough money to quit our day jobs and work from home.

However, our lies lead to frustration as our fantasies don't bear fruit. They leave us hurt with a track record of blown trading accounts.

Technical analysis has a part to play, but it's a part. Any trader who teaches they are profitable by just drawing patterns or 'trading what you see' is misleading. I have yet to meet a successful trader who relies on 100% technical analysis or pure price.

Fundamental Skill

Most will stop reading here. You fail as you are unwilling to listen and be open to fundamental analysis.

Do you want to be a Forex trader who only trades technical analysis? If the answer is yes, then I suggest you quit now. You must be willing to adapt and learn what drives the market. In other words, you need to trade using fundamental analysis.

It took me far too long to realise this. I fought against learning market fundamentals. I was shooting myself in the foot.

After repeatedly seeing poor to mediocre results, I was eventually humbled into submission. I gave up my false hope of becoming just a technical trader and embraced fundamental analysis - something I fought doing as I found FA confusing and overwhelming. This is why most don't learn fundamental analysis - the jargon scares them. They don't believe they are capable of understanding it. Be honest with yourself. You likely don't want to use fundamental analysis in your trading as you don't think you can understand and apply it, or you're looking for an "easier" way of making Forex trading successful.

Let me tell you this. YOU CAN DO IT! Fundamental analysis is more simple than you think.

It may sound unbelievable, but I learned fundamental analysis by listening to Bloomberg TV for five to six hours daily. Things started to click within a few months - that's all it took. I combined my Bloomberg bingeing with Bloomberg YouTube videos and YouTube channels about economics, such as Patrick Boyle. I also started to read FT Weekend (the weekend newspaper published by The Financial Times).

I taught myself basic economics and fundamental analysis just as I taught myself technical analysis.

Once you understand fundamental analysis, you'll understand why the Forex market moves and responds. You'll have a much deeper understanding and appreciation of the FX markets. You'll see more trading opportunities, feel more confident, and trade like a pro.

My trading journey has led me to learn, track, and get excited about:

  • Interest rates and central bank decisions

  • Inflation rates

  • Economic figures, such as unemployment rates, balance of trade, GDP, and retail sales.

Please, please, please follow my advice and learn this crucial form of analysis. It made all the difference in my trading journey and will to yours.

Fundamental analysis separates the losing rookie retail traders from the professional winners. Believe me. I've seen it over and over again.

What I've learnt about me

I am incredibly persistent. My determination is like no other. This is the characteristic that made me successful as a trader. I don't give up. A week of losses? Meh. A failed trading strategy? Bring it on. A two-month drawdown? Is that all you've got?!

Don't get me wrong. I get frustrated, anxious, and sometimes discouraged. However, I never throw in the towel. I keep going. Ultimately, I failed my way to success. In the words of Rocky Balboa, 'It's not how hard you hit; it's how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. This is how winning is done'.

I also realised that I needed help to become a successful trader. The emotions associated with trading, especially the emotion of fear, constantly got in the way. I had to rely on a higher power and ask for strength. Things like prayer, meditation, affirmations, and self-help books have been a resource of strength.

I have my limitations. I need breaks from the desk. I need to eat well. I have to go on holiday. Otherwise, I get depressed or too tired.

Any negative emotion does not mix well with trading. I have discovered that looking after myself is crucial to staying successful. My physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health directly impact my trading performance and enjoyment.


Becoming a Forex Trader: Key Milestones

There were several challenges, setbacks, and achievements along the way. Here are the key milestones (from my bad memory):

  • 2012 - I decide to become a full-time trader. I started an accounting practice to support myself financially while learning to trade. I initially started trading stock CFDs.

  • 2012/2013 - I start to learn technical analysis.

  • 2013 - I develop a basic profitable trading strategy for stock indices

  • 2014 - I transitioned into Forex and became a price action convert

  • 2015 - the launch of lovethepips (later renamed Actual Forex Trading)

  • 2015 - I trade a variety of price action trading strategies with mediocre results

  • 2016 - I am headhunted by a major FX retail broker in Asia to be part of their technical analyst team

  • 2017 - I became the head technical analyst for the principal FX broker (this ended in 2023, after six fantastic years)

  • 2018 - I'm invited to speak on IG TV

  • 2021 - Not happy with my mediocre performance, I start learning about fundamental analysis

  • 2023 - My trading performance becomes more consistent with higher returns

  • 2024 - I launch my proprietary trading and investment fund (details to follow in 2025)

Becoming Successful: How did I do it?

Okay, so how did I do it? From a practical perspective, how do I make money from trading Forex? Let me answer in eight bite-sized pieces:

I have a directional bias.

You must first decide whether you are a bull or a bear. Will the EURUSD climb higher, start moving sideways, or downtrend? This is the first question you must ask yourself before taking any trades. You must have a directional bias.

I use a combination of the weekly trend and fundamental analysis to predict future price direction. I do this with each currency pair. About twenty-five in total.

It would help if you had a strategy to forecast future trends. This is the best place to start.

I use fundamental analysis.

Don't rely on just technical analysis. The best traders use a combination of both fundamental and technical analysis. If you want to make a living from trading, incorporate fundamental analysis. This will increase your chances of success.

I use multiple timeframe analysis (MTA).

Trading a single timeframe is not enough to give you an edge. Use multiple timeframes. Especially the daily and weekly charts. This should not be ignored.

I use the weekly, daily, 4-hourly, and 1-hourly charts. I pay attention to the moving averages, support and resistance, and price patterns on all these charts.

I track my trading results.

Keep track of your trading performance and create an equity curve. Calculate your win rate and average win and loss.

Connecting your MT4 or MT5 account to myfxbook or Forex Factory is straightforward. Both sites will analyse your performance for you for free!

I keep a detailed trading journal.

Keep a record of all your trades. Include details of entry and exit date, reasons for entry and exit, the win or loss, and your feelings before and after taking the trade.

A detailed trading journal will help to spot your trading weaknesses and strengths, evaluate and suggest improvements to your trading strategies, and will be an essential document for reference.

I expect and embrace drawdowns.

Most traders give up as they hit a drawdown - a period of consecutive losing trades.

No matter how good your trading strategy is, there will be losing days, weeks and months. Expecting these losing periods will make it easier to trade through them when they happen.

Most negative emotions come from unrealistic expectations. You can learn more about overcoming your trading emotions and changing your trading expectations here:

I am determined and exercise frequent self-control.

You must be determined and have the strength to keep going when the going gets tough. Trading is hard, and you will not last long without a solid commitment.

You must also exercise frequent self-control.

I use consistent position sizing and healthy risk-to-reward ratios.

To be a Forex success, you must manage your risk.

Risking 0.1% to 0.5% per trade is a great start. This will also reduce your negative trading emotions.

Another essential risk management technique is continually trading with healthy risk-to-reward ratios.

Learn more about these eight points in the video below:

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