If there's one thing you're likely to see in most adverts about traders and brokers, it will be the glitz, glamour and fancy lifestyle. There's money in trading, after all. And there's a reason why successful traders want to "flex" or showcase their achievements.
Because behind the wealth they amass is a less-appealing reality that professional traders face on a daily basis or at whichever time frame they choose to focus on. Like most successful stories, nothing happens overnight or easily even for seasoned traders.
So what does a professional trader's typical day look like?
1. In terms of trading hours
Depending on the assets they're trading, different traders deal with the markets part-time, full-time or at certain pre-defined times. The strategies and time frame they use will also dictate how long they'll be glued to their computers or mobile devices.
The trading sessions in the Forex market, for example, run 24 hours a day. In US time zones, the trading day runs from Sunday evening to Friday afternoon. The trading sessions in Asia and Europe also run at different times with some overlaps.
If a Forex trader doesn't pick a pre-defined or custom time frame based on their strategies or the currencies they want to buy, they'll be stuck to their chairs longer than a full-time employee.
2. How each trading day is spent
A typical trading day or session can be broken down into three -- before, during and after.
Before trading starts
For most professional traders, the most crucial parts happen pre-trading. They start their day right by focusing on their wellbeing, especially their mental welfare before they perform research and analysis.
It’s important that they’re mentally prepared to deal with the markets and not stressed over yesterday’s loss. Some traders get a good start with their trading day with exercise and a hearty meal.
In addition to checking the market, some may also follow a trading checklist, which tells them which variables to look for to ensure they open and close the right positions at the best price.
How do the pros check the markets and analyse the charts?
- If there are any open trades from the previous day, they check and adjust accordingly. This may involve adjusting the stop-loss, and then reviewing and updating their trading journal.
- If some positions closed out the previous night, they update their trading journal to reflect on whether the position hit the target or stop-loss level.
- If the plan was to trail stops on an open position, they will find the next most logical place to trail their stop if the position has moved in their favour.
As for chart analysis, professional traders already know exactly what they're looking for as they master one or two trading strategies at a time. They also keep their trades within a small number of markets so they can focus more on where profitability is highest.
During market sessions
As soon as the market opens, professional traders are either active or inactive, depending on current strategies.
Position traders can be inactive in a typical session as they hold positions in the long term. Most of the time, they keep an eye out for when price zones come into play or when they see remarkable movements or changes in the assets they hold.
Day traders, on the other hand, actively monitor the markets as they need to react quickly when prices move.
During a session, pro traders take time off from the markets. They're well aware of the damage caused by over-analysing and over-trading. This is why they remove themselves from the markets at the right time. There's no need to spend a vast amount of time analysing since they're already a master of their trading edge.
After trading day
Once a trading session ends, pro traders spend time unwinding while reflecting on the day's market activity. They step away from their trading den and just enjoy the rest of the day.
You don't have to follow the routine above when you become a professional trader. Different traders follow different routines, so this schedule doesn’t apply to all pro traders. However, you should follow a schedule that will help you stay committed to your trading goals.
3. The lifestyle choices they make
One of the important rules in the financial world is to treat trading like a business so that there's a real commitment to it.
If you take this approach, you will accept that trading comes with risks and rewards and will incur expenses, losses, and taxes. To maximise your potential, you must research and strategise.
Given what these entail, making better lifestyle choices is crucial. Professional traders work hard to build discipline and focus, both of which are essential to ensuring a good bottom line.
This means taking care of their health and getting rid of bad vices and habits. They also spend adequate time with their family as problems with interpersonal relationships may also impact their trading decisions.
It's not easy being a professional trader.
Faced with unpredictable challenges in the Forex, stock and other financial markets, they need to be physically, mentally and emotionally equipped to deal with them. They first invest money, time and effort before they get to enjoy bigger returns and consistent wins.
So if you think those fancy ads by traders and brokers are just for show, think again. If you put in the same level of commitment they do, you'll live the good life too.
Do you want to become a professional trader?
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Open a demo account to gain some trading experience. You can also copy trade to earn a profit with the help of other professional traders with proven winning strategies. This way, you can earn while still learning the ropes.
You should also take advantage of educational materials, webinars, and tools at your disposal so you'll get a good grasp of trading easier and quicker. Once you develop your trading strategies, open a live account and trade with real money.
As you trade more, you'll develop the necessary discipline and mindset to become a pro trader.
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