If you have ever thought about getting a trading coach or trading program, or bought a book about trading, this topic may have crossed your mind. If "the coach" knows so much about trading, why is he or she teaching others? This relates to the old adage: Those who can, do. Those who can't ... teach. Meaning those who were unsuccessful at an endeavor move to the teaching realm to coach others.
Many people don't like the idea that a trader who can't make big money should be teaching others. But does your coach's personal success really matter? In other words, is a full-time trader in a better position to help you than someone who no longer trades or has never traded? When we break down the pros and cons, you may realize you weren't giving some people the credibility they deserve and were possibly giving too much credit to others. (See also: Using Paper Trading to Practice Day Trading.)
[If you're looking for a program to boost your trading skills, a great place to start is the Technical Analysis course on the Investopedia Academy, which includes video content and real-world examples to provide you with the skills you need to succeed as a trader.]
Arguments for Both Sides
A coach who is a trader will claim to have definite advantage over someone who doesn't trade. This may be true if the coach has the track record to back up this claim, but just because a person is successful at trading does not mean that he or she can effectively relay that skill to someone else.
On the other hand, a coach who no longer trades can still provide great benefit if he or she is an effective teacher. A non-trader coach may have been successful as a trader in the past but has chosen to give up trading. The reasons for this are numerous: some traders prefer coaching to trading, have found trading too stressful, want to help others or have already succeeded and want a new challenge, to list but a few potential reasons. However, it may also be that the trader has failed miserably at trading. At first, it may seem that this person would not be a good coach, but this is not necessarily true; we can learn a lot from other people's failures. In addition, even though someone was unable to implement a certain system themselves due to lack of discipline, psychological or physiological reasons, this does not mean that a different person can't be successful using the same method.
Both sides can likely agree on the fact that, in order to coach someone else, a teacher needs to have experience in what students will go through. Essentially, coaches must have market experience in some form or another. The coach needs to know what hurdles students will have to go over and be able to help them navigate through those obstacles. This does not mean they need to have traded personally, but they will at least have to have been in an environment where they witnessed others trading. Observation can be a great teacher that can lead to the teaching of others. (See also: Get Technical With a CMT Certification.)
A Deeper Look
On both sides of the argument, there are examples of traders being great and horrible coaches, as well as coaches who no longer trade (or never did) that are fantastic. Think for a moment about a sport. The athletes who play professional sports are the best athletes in the world, and yet they are often coached by someone who has inferior skill. This is okay, because the coach is there to help hone another person's skills. Just because coaches don't have the qualities of a peak performance athlete does not mean they can't pick out and elevate those qualities in others. On the flip side, we have had some amazing talents who could not and cannot effectively pass on whatever it was that made them great athletes.
When we look at trading, or investing, much worth is placed in those who don't actually trade the markets professionally. Market analysts gauge the market using varying tools and methods and relay that information to others. While many analysts may not be traders, some are often very accurate in their market analysis. Having a bird's-eye view of the unfolding situation allows them to make predictions without an investment in the outcome. These insights are helpful to many traders, even though the information comes from someone who may have never placed a trade. (See also: Fundamental Analysis for Traders.)
Never having placed a trade does pose a problem for the trader. The market is constantly moving, and while an analyst may be able to anticipate the direction and magnitude of a move, the gyrations along the way can have the power to wipe a trader out if he or she executes a move at the wrong time. In this case, a student trader would benefit from having the information constructed into something tradeable by a trading coach.
How to Find a Good Coach
With arguments on both sides, there is no hard-and-fast rule when it comes to which is better. The bottom line is whether someone gets you the knowledge and skills that you want. If the coach is teaching you in a way you understand and you feel you are getting your money's worth, that is what counts.
Trading and coaching is a business. Coaches need to recruit students – this is how they make money. Therefore, sales pitches abound across media sources. When seeking to improve your trading, this can be overwhelming. That said, you can often narrow your search down quite quickly by following a few simple guidelines.
- Don't Focus on a Coach's Personal Results: Don't worry about whether a potential coach was a trader, is a trader or what his or her personal track record is. Personal trading results don't matter; what matters is how a given coach's students are doing. Look for reviews by students about a coach or training program, and if possible contact a few students directly to ask them about their experience.
- Avoid Getting Emotional: Sales pages are meant for the hard sell. Therefore, sift through sales pages with an analytical mind, not an emotional one. Is there any substantiation to an advertiser's claims? People who know the markets know that no one is right all the time, so skip past coaches and programs that promise outlandish results.
- Consider Your Personality and Style: If you have some experience already, look for someone who meshes with your personality and style. Do you understand the language the coach uses? Does his or her method seem simple and easy to understand? Complex methods can be hard to implement and may not be easily passed from one person to another. Also, if you can't understand what someone else is saying when you are first introduced to their work, it is likely only going to get harder to understand down the road.
The Bottom Line
Good information, coaching and training programs can be found, but in order to hit on the best possible program, traders need to do some research. This includes finding reviews of any product or service being considered, and touching base with those companies or individuals to see what they have to offer. We can also discard any offers that promise outlandish results or are hard to understand. Trading can be difficult, but learning about it should be much easier – especially if you take the time to seek out the best possible sources. (See also: Blending Technical and Fundamental Analysis.)