It’s certainly possible. My father has been a very successful self-taught, self-employed forex trader for the last twenty-five years, using family assets only. He has never set foot on a trading floor except as a tourist, and he has never worked for a financial institution of any kind.
Of course he is a driven, disciplined individual who has a knack for picking up new skills and perservering at them (he first got a degree in medicine, then worked as a gemstone cutter for many years).
But what set him apart from other wannabes was the ability to cultivate a strong network of mentors, contacts and investors. He would not have succeeded were it not for the clutch of elite professional traders who taught him everything he knows, fed him leads and deals, and continue keep him in the loop on market trends to this very day. Finance is still a people-driven business, so ultimately it was his network that lifted him above the bottom-feeders.
What traits do you need?…
A superlative combination of technical skills and people skills, and a relentless drive to work hard and keep on learning. Sorry to speak in generalities, but those are the essential ingredients — if you have those then the rest will just come naturally.
I’m obviously very proud of my dad, and I wish I was half the man he is. And I hope I can be semi-retired like him from age 47 on.
More detail about my dad
Alright, I guess I was a little too general about my answer above. So to give a bit more detail about my dad:
His starting capital in 1981 was in the six-figures. He has averaged double-digit annualized growth since then (some years more, some years less of course).
He is a “chartist”, i.e. trading mainly on technical analysis. He doesn’t disagree with trading on fundamentals, but it doesn’t suit his instincts. I’d tell you more if I could make any sense of what he does.
He makes good money mainly because he has access to small-spread trades and is charged virtually no fees. You don’t get that without a 20-year working relationship with the brokers.
He works odd hours – a few hours before 9am and then a few hours late evening. Maybe an hour or two at midday. We’re in Vancouver (Pacific Standard Time). That allows him to monitor all the major markets (NY, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, etc). He golfs or plays with our dog the rest of the time.
He is very risk averse — too much so according to some of his peers. But it’s not nice making mistakes with family money, so I’m glad he is the way he is.
BTW, what my dad does is not day-trading, per se. Yes, he sometimes flips a transaction within a day. But typical positions are held for days, weeks or months.
[posted by randomstriker]