Money Management in Forex Trading

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Money management in Forex trading is the term given to describe the various aspects of managing your risk and reward on every trade you make. If you don’t fully understand the implications of money management as well as how to actually implement money management techniques, you have a very slim chance of becoming a consistently profitable trader.

I am going to explain the most important aspects of money management in this article; risk / reward, position sizing, and fixed dollar risk vs. percentage risk. So, grab a cup of your favorite beverage and follow along as I help you understand some of the most critical concepts to a profitable Forex trading career…

Risk : Reward

Risk reward is the most important aspect to managing your money in the markets. However, many traders do not completely grasp how to fully take advantage of the power of risk reward. Every trader in the market wants to maximize their rewards and minimize their risks. This is the basic building block to becoming a consistently profitable trader. The proper knowledge and implementation of risk reward gives traders a practical framework to do this.

Many traders do not take full advantage of the power of risk reward because they don’t have the patience to consistently execute a large enough series of trades in order to realize what risk reward can actually do. Risk reward does not mean simply calculating the risk and reward on a trade, it means understanding that by achieving 2 to 3 times risk or more on all your winning trades, you should be able to make money over a series of trades even if you lose the majority of the time. When we combine the consistent execution of a risk / reward of 1:2 or larger with a high-probability trading edge like price action, we have the recipe for a very potent Forex trading strategy.

Let’s take a look at the 4hr chart of Gold to see how to calculate risk / reward on a pin bar setup. We can see in the chart below there was an obvious pin bar that formed from support in an up-trending market, so the price action signal was solid. Next, we calculate the risk; in this case our stop loss is placed just below the low of the pin bar, so we would then calculate how many lots we can trade given the stop loss distance. We are going to assume a hypothetical risk of $100 for this example. We can see this setup has so far grossed a reward of 3 times risk, which would be $300.

Now, with a reward of 3 times risk, how many trades can we lose out of a series of 25 and STILL make money? The answer is 18 trades or 72%. That’s right; you can lose 72% of your trades with a risk / reward of 1:3 or better and STILL make money…..over a series of trades.

Here is the math real quick:

18 losing trades at $100 risk = -$1800, 7 winning trades with a 3 R (risk) reward = $2100. So, after 25 trades you would have made $300, but you also would have had to endure 18 losing trades…and the trick is that you never know when the losers are coming. You might get 18 losers in a row before the 7 winners pop up, that is unlikely, but it IS possible.

So, risk / reward essentially all boils down to this main point; you have to have the fortitude to set and forget your trades over a large enough series of executions to realize the full power of risk / reward. Now, obviously if you are using a high-probability trading method like price action strategies, you aren’t likely to lose 72% of the time. So, just imagine what you can do if you properly and consistently implement risk reward with an effective trading strategy like price action.

Unfortunately, most traders are either too emotionally undisciplined to implement risk reward correctly, or they don’t know how to. Meddling in your trades by moving stops further from entry or not taking logical 2 or 3 R profits as they present themselves are two big mistakes traders make. They also tend to take profits of 1R or smaller, this only means you have to win a much higher percentage of your trades to make money over the long-run. Remember, trading is a marathon, not a sprint, and the WAY YOU WIN the marathon is through consistent implementation of risk reward combined with the mastery of a truly effective trading strategy.