Everybody loses money when trading at some point. It is an unavoidable part of the business. What separates the best traders from the rest is their ability to analyze their losses, learn from them, and move on. Otherwise, the rest are doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. If you want to be a successful trader, you must be willing to face your losses head-on and learn from them. Here are some tips on how to do just that.
Why it’s Important to Analyze your Losses
Analyzing losses in trading is a crucial part of the trading journey, as it can help you identify your own weaknesses while also allowing you to spot potential opportunities in the future. Investing time into examining what went wrong and evaluating mistakes will teach you lessons that can ensure greater success next time around.
It’s important to identify why the loss occurred so that it can be addressed in future trades. Looking at the factors that led to a loss, such as an incorrect technical analysis or a misunderstanding of market news, teaches traders how to use fundamental and technical analysis for better decision making.
As you become more experienced in trading, your mistakes will become fewer and fewer as you learn from past ones. Through analyzing your losses and understanding why they happened, you get closer and closer to mastering the art of trading. Taking the time to reflect on where things went wrong is an essential part of any trader’s progress.
Analyze Your Losses in 3 Easy Steps
To start, it’s important to be honest with yourself by identifying which mistakes were made and why, as well as any potential factors outside of your control that you could not have accounted for. Once you understand the mistakes you’ve made, it also may be beneficial to look into the strategies employed by successful traders, carefully research the markets and adjust your risk management processes to prevent future losses.
Generally, you can analyze your losses with the following three-step workflow.
Step 1: Performance Calculation
Get a log of all your past trades from your broker or platform. (SurgeTrader provides all of that and more with a few clicks in your Trader Dashboard.)
Calculate the following metrics:
- Average gain: Total gain / # of profitable trades
- Average loss: Total loss / # of losing trades
- Profit/loss ratio: Average gain / average loss
- Win percentage: # of profitable trades / total # of trades
Here’s an example to calculate these metrics:
- You had 20 profitable trades with an average gain of $300 per trade.
- You had 10 losing trades with an average loss of $400 per trade.
Your profit/loss ratio would be 300/400 or 0.75 — which indicates that your average profit amounts to only 75% of your average loss. You lost 1.3 times more capital than you gained.
However, you won 20 trades out of 30 for a 67% win rate.
If your average loss is more than your average gain, ask yourself these questions:
- Did I stick to my Trading Plan or did I diverge from it?
- On profitable trades, why did I decide to exit? Was it based on my Trading Plan? Did I diverge from the plan?
- On losing trades, did I exit according to my risk management rules? Or did I arbitrarily hold on to losers too long?
Step 2: Analyze Your Losing Trades
If you want to learn from your past mistakes, understanding and analyzing your average losses is key if you are to make progress and grow as a trader.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What were the market conditions at the time of the trade?
- What factors led to this trade being a bad one?
- Was there an error in the analysis, or was it simply an unlucky trade?
It’s not only important to analyze your losses in order to identify mistakes, but also how you manage and control these situations that can have a direct impact on your overall success. If you have found yourself in these situations before, then it is important to take a step back and look into the details of why and for what reasons you are making the same mistakes. By analyzing your bad trades, you can identify bad habits or a flaw in your strategy. Maybe you’re letting bad trades run too long, but you won’t uncover this mistake without analysis.
With proper risk-reward, you can be wrong more than you’re right and still come out on top. Your average gains simply need to outweigh your average losses. So, go figure out your trade expectancy.
Step 3: Figure Out Your Trade Expectancy
Trade expectancy is a statistic that helps to measure how successful your system is. It takes into account the average winning trade, average losing trade and win % to give you a score out of 100. A higher score indicates more profitable trading. This can be calculated by multiplying the loss percentage by the average loss and subtracting it from the win percentage times the average win:
Expectancy = (% winning trades x average win) – (% losing trades x average loss)
For example, suppose 40% of your trades in the past month were profitable and your average gain was $500 per trade, while 60% of your trades were losing trades with an average loss per trade of $200.
Based on the expectancy calculation above, you should expect an average gain of $80 per trade:
Expectancy = (40% x $500) – (60% x $200) = $200 – $120 = $80
Obviously, you should aim for a positive expectancy (and hopefully expectancy that is increasing over time). If that’s not what’s going on, examine your losers a little closer, because your trading performance relies heavily on your trade expectancy.
Overall, through careful analysis of past losses, a profitable trader can use their losses as an opportunity to develop and strengthen their trading skills.
Disclaimer: All information provided here is intended solely for study purposes related to trading financial markets and does not serve in any way as a specific investment recommendation, business recommendation, investment opportunity, analysis, or similar general recommendation regarding the trading of investment instruments. The content, in its entirety or parts, is the sole opinion of SurgeTrader and is intended for educational purposes only. The historical results and/or track record does not imply that the same progress is replicable and does not guarantee profits or future profitable trading records or any promises whatsoever. Trading in financial markets is a high-risk activity and it is advised not to risk more than one can afford to lose.