This commentary covers some of the questions we would ask every market timer (or potential market timer) if we could talk to them personally.
Know Your Limits
Timers should use the strategies that suit them best. There are aggressive, active, and conservative timing strategies. Make sure you know what sort of timing strategy you are emotionally able to handle.
A novice market timer, who jumps right into an aggressive timing strategy, might have a difficult time when facing numerous trades in a fast market. If you are conservative, use a conservative strategy. If you are a bit more aggressive, use the active strategies. Remember that you do not have to make lots of trades to be profitable. During volatile markets the more conservative strategies are often doing best.
Jumping The Gun
Another concern is new timers who trade immediately. Entering a new position “before” a new bullish or bearish signal has been issued. We understand the urge to jump in and get started, but in reality, “mid-signal” entries are usually more risky than waiting for a new buy or sell signal. When a subscriber enters on his or her own, mid-trade, the result more often than not, is losses that should never have happened.
Patience is a key element to successful market timing. You cannot rush profits. You “can” rush losses though. So take your time and enter properly. You have years of timing ahead. The markets have been around for hundreds of years. They are not going anywhere. Wait and do it right.
Conservative and active strategies are designed to manage risk in volatile, or sideways markets, and to correctly place us in bullish or bearish trends when they occur.
Aggressive strategies often make their biggest gains during bear markets. When everyone else is losing, the bearish trades are winning. A 20% market loss equals a 20% gain for the timer, which is 40% better than the market. But in between those bear markets, small losses, and sometimes multiple small losses, are a normal part of trading. Bear markets are usually far apart which is something else to consider.
Aggressive strategies are often, though not always, the most profitable over time. But if you exit the strategy after a few small losses, you will not be profitable when the strategies catch a strong bearish (or bullish) trend. There is an old saying, “If you cannot accept a loss, than you will never succeed in the markets.” If you feel you will worry over multiple trades, or may not have the discipline to wait for the next bull market or bear market, use conservative or active strategies.
This all brings to mind the next important subject. Market timers should diversify. Putting all your eggs in one basket just does not make sense. No strategy is perfect. Every strategy will have periods of non-performance. This is a fact of trading the markets.
If you have all your timing funds allocated to a single strategy, you are just hurting your chances of success. If you have the funds available, use several strategies. If you do not have the funds available to diversify properly, stay with a conservative timing strategy
Finally, there are those timers who wait to see if a signal is correct before following it. This again diminishes the ability of our risk management, built into the strategies, to work correctly. In the aggressive and active strategies, we accept small losses as the price of never missing any trend, but the prices we enter at, can be quite different than an entry made two or three days later. This potential is somewhat lessened in the conservative strategies, but still should considered.
Following trading rules is extremely important. Every strategy at Fibtimer.com has a section at the bottom with detailed trading rules. Here are some which all market timers should ask themselves.
Are you looking for a timing strategy that will keep you in bull markets, and protect you from bear markets, with few timing decisions that have to be faced? Are you close to retirement and just do not want to risk having a bear market, such as we had in 2000-2002, decimate your savings by 50-80%?
If this is you, stay with the conservative strategies which trade infrequently, and go to cash to avoid potential long term declines.
The Gold, Bond , U.S. Dollar and Small Cap timing strategies are single industry timers and should only be used for a portion of your investment capital. They should NOT be used for all your trading capital. Gold bugs take note…it is not a good idea to trade only gold funds. They can gain 10% in a day, but they can also move against you 10% in a day.
If you have access to sector funds, which are available in several fund families but are especially excellent in the Rydex and ProTimer Fund families, Sector Timing is one of the best timing strategies we have ever developed. It is meant to be traded with at least 8-10 positions (diversification) and is less volatile than you might think. If a sector has a large sell off, it only affects a fraction of the portfolio. If a sector get whipsawed, again only a fraction is affected.
Sector funds, when they trend, often move faster than the market in general, and usually further than anyone expects. The potential for the Sector Timer is huge. We consider this an “Active” timing strategy, but not an aggressive one. Sectors move to cash during declines, adding stability to the strategy.