Trading is often viewed as a high barrier-to-entry field, but this is simply not the case in today's market. Now, anyone with ambition and patience can trade, and do it for a living, even with little to no money. Sound fantastic? It is, and there are so many options available to people with the desire to put in the time to learn.
The New Era of Trading
Changes in technology and increasing volumes on the exchanges have brought about a number of very low barriers-to-entry trading-careers. In some cases no personal capital is required, and in other cases a small amount of capital will be required to get you started, in order to verify your commitment to trading. With markets so interlinked, it's always open trading time somewhere on the globe, and many of those markets can be accessed with relative ease. This means that even people who have full-time jobs or children at home can trade - it is just a matter of finding the right market and the right opportunity.
This is not to say that trading is an easy business - it can be very tough to stay in for the long haul. As we look at some different trading alternatives available in today's market, you will see that you are able to enter the market, but your ultimate success depends on you. We will look at these options in depth to see what they offer career wise, or if they can simply be used to generate additional income.
The Options Available
People often think that full-time traders only work for investment banks, with advanced degrees and a high pedigree. Equally as common is the thought that, in order to trade for one's self, large amounts of capital and expendable time are needed.
It is probably true that, to get into an investment bank or onto a major institutional trading floor, you will need to have connections or a prominent educational background that sets you apart. Therefore, this alternative will not be focused on. In this article we will focus on how the average person, with extensive or very little trading experience, can enter into the arena of trading and creating wealth.
The first option, and likely the easiest because it is so flexible and can be molded around a person's current life, is trading from home. However, day trading stocks from home is also one of the most capital-intensive arenas. This is because the minimum equity requirement for a trader who is designated as a pattern day trader is $25,000, and this amount must be maintained at all times. If the trader's account falls below this minimum, he or she will not be permitted to day trade until minimum equity level is restored either by depositing cash or securities.
Therefore, potential traders need to be aware of the other markets that require less capital and have lower barriers to entry. The foreign exchange (forex) or currency markets offer such an alternative. Accounts can be opened for as little as $100 and, with leverage, a large amount of capital can be controlled with this small amount of money. This market is open 24 hours a day during the week, and thus provides an alternative to those who cannot trade during regular market hours.
The contract for difference (CFD) market has also expanded. A CFD is an electronic agreement between two parties that involves no ownership of the underlying asset. This allows for gains to be captured for a fraction of the cost of taking ownership of the asset. As with the forex market, the CFD market provides high leverage, meaning smaller amounts of capital are needed to enter the market. The stock market can also be traded using a CFD. While the stock is never owned, the contract allows profits/losses to be reaped from speculating on the underlying stocks or indexes by mirroring its movement.
High leverage does mean higher risk, but if a trader does not have a large amount of capital, this market can still be entered with very low barriers. Educating oneself on the risks involved and building a strong trading plan are absolute musts before partaking in any trading activity, but when you're highly leveraged, it becomes even more paramount.
Proprietary Trading Firms
Proprietary trading firms have become very attractive with their training programs and low-fee structures. If the idea of trading from home does not appeal to you, then working on a trading floor might. Under this system, the trader is provided with firm capital (or leveraged capital) to trade and the risk is partially managed by the firm. While personal discipline is still very much required, trading for a firm takes some of the weight off of a trader's shoulders.
Working for a firm may also require working in an office during an open market, although some firms allow traders to trade remotely (from home). The perks of working with a trading firm can include free training, being surrounded by other successful traders, constant trading ideas, greatly reduced fees and commissions, access to capital and performance monitoring.
Many proprietary trading firms will accept people who have shown initiative in their backgrounds and have some education in their prior field. This is because the firm can monitor a trader's risk, and those not showing promise can be released with very little overall loss to the firm.
Pay in a firm is based on performance, and is normally a percentage payout of your net profits after fees. Some licensing may be required, but depending on the structure of the company this is not always the case. Passing the Series 7 exam will mean that there are more firms with whom you are available to trade. Each firm operates a little differently, so find one what suits your needs, personality and circumstances. Some require you to use some of your own capital. If you run a search for a list of proprietary trading firms you will be able to see what is available to you.
Final Notes - The Next Step
After the method of trading that best fits you has been decided, the next step is crucial. If trading from home is the main interest, then you must decide what markets you will trade based on your capital and interests. You must then make a comprehensive trading plan, which is also a business plan (trading is now your business) and decide how you will operate as a trader. From there, explore different online brokers and compare what they offer. Seek out a mentor or someone to help you. Then, it is time to start trading.
ProfessionalsHere are four finance careers that real women say allow them to achieve success, satisfaction and work-life balance.
ProfessionalsIf your goals include a big paycheck and working for a Wall Street firm, then you need to learn how to meet employers' expectations.
ProfessionalsFind out if classic films about Wall Street reflect what it's actually like to work there.
ProfessionalsBreaking into the finance business is tough, but these tips can help.
Options & FuturesSave time and money by following these tips to a smooth career transition.
ProfessionalsIdentify the key differences between a career in accounting and financial planning, and learn how your personality dictates which is the better choice for you.
ProfessionalsFind out about some of the best documentaries that finance professionals can watch to gain a better understanding of their industry.
ProfessionalsRead an in-depth review and comparison of a career in investment banking and a career in corporate finance, with advice about which one to choose.
ProfessionalsCompare and contrast careers as a stockbroker and insurance agent. Understand the skills and attributes required for success in each career.
Investing NewsAn addiction to trading can ruin your life and relationships. Not to mention the monetary costs. There are telltale signs that you've gone too far.
Nearly all financial advisors, particularly when new to the field, have to find their own clients. An employer may provide ... Read Full Answer >>
Financial advisors are not drug tested by any federal or state regulatory body. This means you may receive your Series 6, ... Read Full Answer >>
Financial advisors are not required to have university degrees. However, they are required to pass certain exams administered ... Read Full Answer >>
Financial advisors must possess various securities licenses in order to sell investment products. The specific products an ... Read Full Answer >>
Most financial advisors are required to meet quotas, particularly if they work for firms that pay base salaries or draws ... Read Full Answer >>
Obtaining a license as a financial adviser does not require an Master's of Business Administration (MBA) degree. The Certified ... Read Full Answer >>