5 Ways to Manage Market Risk

market risk

Doctor Stock has experienced some excellent trading success so far. Much of that success is due to his disciplined use of market risk management techniques. In his quest to help you make money on the markets every morning, he has often emphasized the need to balance risk vs. reward.

There are many ways that traders and investors can manage market risk in their portfolios. Here’s a sampling of 5 of the most common ones:

Momentum

The trend is your friend until it ends. This is a crucial component of Doctor Stock’s strategy, and he tracks it for you at the top right corner of this site. It’s tough to make money by anticipating a change in trend. It’s better to wait for the turn and buy once it’s confirmed. “The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent.” That trading axiom, coined by economist John Maynard Keynes, has become a cliché for a good reason. Many a trader has gone bankrupt fighting the tape.

Stop-Loss Orders

I know that Doctor Stock makes fair use of these as well. Before you enter a position, it’s essential to know when you will exit. You can set one or more profit targets, but it’s even more important to limit your losses. A stop-loss order or trailing stop can help you do just that. There are tons of ways to choose a stop loss level, from percentages, trend lines, and moving averages to the true average range or simple dollar amounts. You need to find the method that works for you and your trading psychology. It’s less important how you use them. It’s more important that you use them. Set a stop loss level before you trade and stick to it.

Position Sizing

One way to limit the amount of market risk you take is to limit the amount of money you invest. If you are placing a highly speculative trade, or one in which you have less confidence, you may want to limit your risk by taking a smaller than normal position. Similarly, if you are uncertain about market momentum, it may be wise to trade smaller until a more well-defined trend emerges. Always set rules for yourself on the maximum amount of money you are willing to risk on each trade as a percentage of your total investable capital.

Diversification

You’ve heard about this one before. It’s essential to diversify your capital by investing it in asset classes that aren’t correlated with one another. Unfortunately, there are times (like the recent market crash) where most asset classes move in unison. That’s why it’s important to keep at least some liquid cash on hand. There are many different ways to diversify your holdings: geographically, by asset class, sector, market capitalization, and many others. The key is to put your eggs in a few different baskets so that if one company, region, or asset class gets destroyed, your losses will be limited.

Rebalancing:

This strategy pertains more to market risk management for investors as opposed to traders. Many traders only actively trade a portion of their capital. They invest the rest of it (often their retirement funds) more conservatively, with a longer time horizon in mind. One risk management strategy for investors is to set an asset allocation (50% stocks, 30% bonds, and 20% cash, for example) and rebalance it periodically. If the equity portion of your portfolio has performed very well and it now constitutes 60% of your holdings, you would sell some of those holdings to bring your allocation back to 50%.
If your bond holdings have performed poorly and now makeup only 25% of your portfolio, you might consider buying more to rebalance your bond allocation. This is one way to buy low and sell high automatically.

Disciplined market risk management, in whichever form(s) you choose to implement, is the key to successful investing and trading. What kinds of strategies do you use to manage risk?

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