In our latest article, Trading College’s Lee shares his knowledge and experience of making a start in trading, and his key lessons that every beginner should take on board before embarking on a trading career.

I certainly did it the hard way.  I’ve been trading for a long time now.  But before it was my career, trading was my hobby.  It got into my heart and my mind, and I’ll admit I became obsessed with it.  When I left my professional football career it was a tough time. We’ve all seen the reports of ex footballers failing to cope with modern day life, after the disciplined, controlled and protected environment that goes hand in hand with a career in professional sport.  I’m told that – like The Army – some leave the system literally unable to cope with new freedoms, new diets, new challenges, new responsibilities. The support from the club, the Manager, the fans – now gone. So many ex-players seem to fall by the wayside. I’ve seen some of my childhood heroes turning to alcohol and depression.  Relationships failing. It’s so sad.     

It’s in fact the support of my colleagues, my team players, that I missed most.  That locker room banter, the camaraderie, the knowledge that these guys had your back on the field.  It feels like an unbreakable bond. There’s no feeling like it.  

So I knew I had some big decisions to make.  A new career was ahead of me.

Starting out in trading

Trading had been part of my life for a while.  I realised that I needed to get serious and improve my consistency. I loved the freedom, loved being my own boss and loved the challenge.  

But I certainly took the long way round.  First I read every trading book I could lay my hands on – some good, some bad.  In some ways this was a colossal waste of time, and yet I found small nuggets slowly but surely.  Then I took several courses. Some were self developmental, some were related to trading. Then I found the REAL courses, and then I read again.  

After several broker changes, several blown accounts and some more study, I became a decent enough trader.  But it wasn’t until I became absolutely obsessed with mastering the markets – and committed WEEKS on end to back-testing – that I was happy to call myself a professional trader. I’ve never looked back.  I’ll never work for anyone else again. The freedom is unrivalled and I’ve got the golf trophies to prove it.      

9 things you should know before taking up trading

Trading has given me amazing opportunities.  We’ve travelled, had some amazing holidays. It’s the flexibility, the thrill, the independence, the passion that I love.  

So here’s what I’ve discovered after 17 years as trader:

1. You won’t make it alone

They say that it takes a village to raise a child.  It certainly takes a team to win a league. And I’d say it takes a decent team to generate a great trader.  

Get a team around you.  You are going to need education, training and support.  You’ll need to follow credible experts, and to get guidance on the trades you’ve taken personally.  You are going to fail if you rely on YouTube videos alone. A £10 book on Amazon is never enough. If you’re serious about trading, then do the job properly and get a proper trader education AND support AND a network.   

2. Most students focus on strategy 90% and mindset 10%

Thinking back, I don’t think that I ever talked about trader psychology to a student and they’ve got it first time.  Their eyes glaze over. Most people are looking for the holy grail of trading. Keen to buy that one strategy that solves all their worries.   I have created strategies. I have created software, and their successes are well documented – but nothing is perhaps more important than your own mind.  As a trader we need to accept that our mind and emotions require control. Objectivity is key. Decision making is key. The ability to follow a plan is key.  Newer students need to master these simple foundations as well as mastering the strategies.   No strategy will overcome crazy impulses, guess-work or tendencies to drift aimlessly. Your mindset really matters and is quite possibly the difference between a good and a great trader. Strategies can be bought – can be learned easily, but mindset takes deeper insight.  Self awareness leads to self control. As students mature they recognise the power of a trader’s psychology. 

3. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

You’ll need decent IT skills and a decent laptop or desktop computer.  Again, there is no magic that can compensate for the cracked screen on your laptop from the 1970s.  You are highly unlikely to make a success of this without the necessary tools to do the job.  We help students to buy the right kit, and source the right laptop specification.  Don’t buy too cheap, as it never pays off. Equally, you don’t need to be starting as a beginner with 6 screens.  If you need help here, just ask.

4. You need to know who your friends are (and your enemies)

Your broker is not always your friend.  There are a set of very decent brokers, offering good packages, good support and respectable spreads.  My office also takes calls from people reporting pushy sales tactics by newly established off-shore brokerages.  Don’t get stung. If in doubt, please speak to one of our coaches, our advisors or your Financial Advisor. If a new broker contacts you, and is offering wildly inflated results, it pays to do your due diligence.  Ask questions. Look up reviews online. The FCA is the regulator, but they do not regulate outside of the UK. 

Personally, I would not be allowing anyone to trade my account for me.  I want to teach people how to trade so that they are skilled for life and can trade independently.  An important step in this process is getting set up with the right broker.

5. The markets just don’t care

The markets are objective.  It’s all about probabilities, and as Technical Analysts we learn to read the charts for what they are.  I don’t trade the news.  I certainly never enter a trade based on what I’ve heard on the TV, as the markets moved way before any reporting.  If you’re having a bad day, or a birthday, the markets won’t necessarily be kind to you. You need a clear head and to leave your emotions at the door.  Learning to trade is also learning when to be at your screens and when to avoid them.  This is a job, but not as you’ve ever known it before. Watching the screens like a hawk isn’t necessarily an advantage, and your signals will tell you when to ‘work’ and when not to.   Trading is simple. It’s all about the probabilities and patterns in the markets.  

6. Strategy isn’t everything

There is so much more to trading than just the strategies.  Our Pro Trader Programme online course is approximately 150 lessons – and what with the masterclasses and Scan Club sessions that’s around 250 hours of education available to students.   I’ve put my heart and soul into that programme. It’s been defined and crafted over the years based on trader experience, student feedback and requests. It’s an interactive programme with videos, quizzes, tutorials and lessons of different types as well as the strategies. 

The package comes with our proprietary Pro Trading System (PTS) software, indicators and screeners.  Most students attend my Monday night Scan Club which really sets us up for the week ahead.  For a real education boost we’ve also added 4 coaching days in the year for some face-to-face group coaching.     

I believe that this is the formula that works to maximise the chances of success.   

7. Engage with fellow traders

As a footballer, it was all about the teamwork.  One massive difference as a trader is the solitary nature of trading.  Yes it can be lonely. I’ve been asked why I teach, and there are three reasons.  Firstly, I am a sociable person, and without some human interaction I’d be climbing the walls. Secondly, I feel lucky.  I had the career that I dreamt of. As a young boy, I was given opportunities and people believed in me. I was bought twice by Alan Ball, football manager at Portsmouth and Stoke City, and I probably owe my football career to him (and my dad).  It’s time now for me to give back. And thirdly, it makes me a better trader, without doubt. All our coaches here at Trading College agree that repeating the basics keeps us on track. 

That said, it’s a surprise to me that some students join our groups – facebook forums, whatsapp, webinar sessions or scan club etc, and choose to hold back.

Of course, we’re all welcome to participate in the way that suits us, but without doubt the students who do best are those who fling themselves in, ask questions (even seemingly stupid questions!) and challenge everything.  Those students are getting to grips with it all, and are fully engaged. To me, that’s a joy to see, and whilst it may be terrifying to speak in the live trading chat room for some, it’s your opportunity to learn, to understand and so make the most of it.  The reality is there are no silly questions. Believe me, we really have heard them all before …

8. You’re not a trader if you’re not making consistent profits

Consistency is everything – and you’re only as good as your last trade.  I am committed to creating a community who can not just trade, but who can trade consistently.  This is all about learning in a demo, mastering the basics, growing the learning, mastering one strategy at a time, knowing yourself as a trader and refining, then growing your account.

And finally ….

9. Freedom feels good 

I have no boss.  I love Monday mornings. I have no commute. I have no transport costs.  I can work as many hours as I choose and on the days that suit me. This is a gift and I am grateful every day for the freedom that trading provides. 


Yours, Lee

Your first step to becoming a trader

Lee is qualified at The Society of Technical Analysts, having passed his MSTA and CFTe with flying colours.  To see Lee and our coaches use technical analysis, you can access our Live Trading Room 5 days a week. If you’re looking to step into the world of online trading, we’d like to help. We offer both courses and mentoring opportunities to help you trade with skill and confidence. Come along to our free Learn to Trade Live one-day course to really get your foot in the door! See here for more details and to find a date near you. Registration is now open for our Pro-Trader Programme!

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