Quest Means Business   « Back to Blog Main
July 2, 2009
Posted: 1030 GMT

LONDON, England - Not a good start to the day. Sitting in front of the computer last night I naively decided that the FTSE100 had fallen far enough and so I used some more of my imaginary pot of money to "go long" on it, i.e. I expect it to rise in the next trading session.

I was delighted to find this morning that the FTSE 100 had indeed risen, but was dismayed that my trade had closed out at a loss overnight. I had completely forgotten that as markets can be traded 24 hours a day it is the futures price that determines the bid and offer prices when the real market is closed. The spread between the bid and offer prices tends to widen overnight and my FTSE 100 trade was tripped out by an over-cautious stop loss.

Lesson learned. Must place stop losses far enough away not to get stopped out by normal market movements.

Later in the day I meet Robbie Burns, whose book "The Naked Trader" to some extent provided the inspiration for the "Rookie Trader" series. Personable, calm, witty and great company, Robbie is an inspiration, the perfect antidote to the stress of the adrenalin-fueled trading floors of the past few days.

A former journalist, Robbie has quit the rat race and now makes a very good living trading from his waterside home and through his book he’s willing to show you and me how we could do the same. Robbie has a knack for spotting undervalued or overbought companies and for picking just the right moment to trade them. His trading record is published on his Website for anyone to scrutinize and in my inexperienced view it makes for very impressive reading.

Fortified by tea and toast (toast plays a big part in Robbie’s trading, as you’ll find out if you read his book), Robbie generously takes me through his system for vetting potential trades. He shows me how to find and read a company statement using a system of "traffic lights," how to interpret their profit and loss account and how to find out how weighed down by debt a company is. Once he’s found his potential trades Robbie switches to technical analysis and waits patiently for a buy or sell signal. He’s like an angler watching his line for a bite, but with 20 or more floats on the water at once, not just one or two.

As he talks a penny drops, a light comes on above my head, and I start to grin. Suddenly it all makes sense and for the first time I can see my trading potential. The possibilities are endless. I can do this. I just needed Robbie to put it all into perspective. It’s not rocket science, Robbie explains. Common sense, good money management, a "Mr Spock" mentality and methodical research will pay off.

Invigorated by Robbie’s infectious enthusiasm I head for home, determined to spend every spare moment over the next couple of days coming up with my own list of potential trades ready to cast my own lines onto the water.

 * How does Adrian Finighan fare in his career as a rookie trader? Watch Quest Means Business Monday to Friday: 1800 GMT London, 2000 CET, 0300 HK.

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Lyndon Sullivan @lindano on twitter   July 2nd, 2009 5:02 pm ET

Adrian , looks very confident, albeit a tiny bit bemused, by all the professional advice he receives,i suppose because hes' a rookie trader in the pretend world, its not such a responsibility , unless he's speculating for Richard? (i don't think so!) Yours, Lyndon Sullivan @lindano on Twitter.

Manuel Vilhena   July 3rd, 2009 9:00 pm ET

Very good, asking advice to expert people and getting inspiration from them. I am really enjoying your series.

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