Focused Diversification : Mantra for all Times

I’m more into focus.

One can focus on one thing at a time.

Agreed.

What if after that one thing starts running, it doesn’t require any more focus?

Wow.

Then I focus on another thing.

Get it running.

Then another.

Till my focus window is full.

Let me tell you about my focus window.

I focus on cash, debt, equity, forex, gold, real-estate, arbitrage, and options.

With that, my professional focus in finance is full full full.

I get something running.

That’s it.

Then I don’t need to be with it. Mostly.

Let me run you through.

1). Cash – Bind it in a worry-free and accessible manner. Done.

2). Debt – Study the underlying very thoroughly. Reject 10 underlyings. Take up the 11th which passes all criteria. Be happy with a slightly better than FD-return. Done.

3). Equity – Invest for life. Study till you drop the stock or take it up. Only invest in what meets all criteria and offers margin of safety at time of investing. On top of that – SIP (systematic investment plan). Done.

4). Forex – Get a software robot to trade it for you. Or some human-capital. All available online. Requires a bit of fine-tuning. Keep tuning till you start making a return. Done.

5). Gold – Buy physical gold. Research your source. Needs to be impeccable. Bullion. Coins. SIP. Accessible. No jewellery. Done.

6). Real-estate – Make your real-estate yield you an income. Regular income? Done.

7). Arbitrage – Understand what this is, and why it gives you a tax benefit. Get an online MF account going with Kotak MF or DWS. Divert some funds into their arbitrage MF, either or. I prefer Kotak. Monthly dividend payout option. Done.

8). Options – Get the option-strategy going. You don’t require a desktop. Mobile is sufficient. All you now need to do is take care of square-off. On mobile. This means a slightly higher level of engagement than the above avenues. Only slightly. Are you ok with that? Fine. Done.

In a flow, it’s all doable.

And, you remain focused.

Why all this?

Times demand it. You never know what might come in handy, and when.

Yeah, times are tough.

However, you are tougher.

To use Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s terminology, you are antifragile.

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Making Sense of Losing Battles

Winning gets boring after a while.

Unbelievable, but true.

However, losing continues to pinch, time after time.

That’s the key difference between winning and losing.

Life’s bipolar game is skewed more towards the pinch of continuous loss than towards the continued pleasure of winning.

Get used to losing… but, lose small.

Win big. Don’t nip a small win in the bud and thus stop it from becoming a big win.

Sometimes, you identify losing battles.

These are areas where you’re just not able to win.

What do you do with a losing battle?

Walk away. One option. Weigh the odds. If your walking away impacts no one, and simultaneously betters your existence, yeah, this is a very valid option. For example, one walks away from a losing trade.

Fight. Second option. You’re not beyond your stop, whether in a trade or in life. You fight, to save the battle, and perhaps to win.

Learn. Third option. You’re not able to get away from the losing battle, because your exit impacts something or someone. You hang on. No choice. Your pain teaches you big things. You learn. Sometimes, such a big losing battle suddenly turns into a glorious win. That’s because all the lessons from the scenario have been learnt. Enjoy, you deserve it.

Devolution. Not an option. Don’t allow your losing battle to devolve you into a demon.

Incorporation. Very valid option. Incorporate the learnt lessons from your losing battles into winning strategies for other battles in life.

Cheers.

The Market Aha Moment

What is an Aha moment?

Any ideas?

Simple. It’s when you go “Aha, so that’s what it’s like!”

Or “Aha, so that’s what it’s supposed to be!”

You’ve understood something big. Finally. You see light. That’s an Aha moment. 

The human being likes to be happy. 

Professional happiness adds to our well-being. 

To be professionally happy, you need to be doing something during which you forget about time. 

What is this something for you?

Wait for your Aha moment. 

Let’s assume you’ve decided upon a profession in the markets. The next question is… which market?

Which market draws you out fully? Which market consumes you? In which market do you perform the best? In which market are you happy?

Why isn’t your Aha moment coming here too?

Well, Aha moments aren’t for free. You have to struggle for them. 

Start trying out different markets. 

See what gives you a kick.

See where you have a natural flair.

See what lingers.

Discard what you can’t stand.

Hit and try.

Try everything if you must.

Eventually, something will speak to you.

You’ll want to be in one particular market, perhaps two.  

It’ll be your calling. 

Aha. 

I’ll tell you how it went with me. 

I started with Equity. 

Fluked a few. Made some money. Bet bigger. Thought I was good. Won some more. Bet really big. Lost huge. Thought to myself – no more Equity. 

Then came Gold and Silver. Did ok. Found it boring. No more Gold and silver. 

Tried Private equity. Did ok. Boring. 

Arbitrage. Boring. But, an avenue for parking.  

Real estate. Corrupt.

Commodities…didn’t get a kick. The delivery option always loomed over my head. What if I forgot to square off?

Stock futures. Got hammered. No more. 

Foreign stocks. Time difference killed my evenings. Out. 

Foreign mutual funds. Expense ratios were sky-high. Slugged it out for a while, but then finished it off. Lost. 

Structures – broke even, then won a bit. Got bored. 

Debentures. Only do short term ones, to park funds. No kicks. Debt is boring by default.

Mutual funds. Yeah, well, did my fair bit of them. Did excite me, since they were connected to Equity. As of now, there’s just light MF activity. 

Stock options. Lost a bit, but didn’t actually get hammered. Gave me a bit of a kick. Well, it was Equity related, so no wonder. Started interfering with my second Equity stint. I let options go. 

Second Equity stint. Did ok…ok…ok…lost a bit, won a bit, was enjoying it, when suddenly…came Forex. 

Forex…whoaahh…I loved it. Swept me away. Technology, charting, skill-set, I wanted to be here. Aha. Huge leverage, though. Risk. This had to be my second game, not my first. Yeah, safety first, always. Alright, what would be my first game? Yeah, what would be my bulk game? 

Equity of course. I understood it and enjoyed it. I’d done ok. Had leant lessons. Knew how to handle it. Infrastructure was in place. Aha. Nailed it in the third attempt.

So and thus, I found my games upon my Aha moments. That’s where I am. Don’t plan to do anything else.

When’s your Aha moment coming?

Work towards it. 

Moving away from the Greeks

I’ve never been to Greece.

I have nothing against people from Greece.

I don’t like Greeks, though.

Yeah, I’m an options player.

The Greeks I don’t like are options Greeks, he he he…!

What, you thought I didn’t like actual Greeks?

Come on, I’m sure I’ll love Greece and actual Greeks!

When you don’t like something, you can try to go around it.

I don’t need options Greeks to play options. I’ve found a way around the Greeks.

I’m sure others have discovered this too, because truth is truth.

Let me tell you about it.

You’re buying in the direction of the long-term trend.

You’re buying (calls / puts) after a significant correction / rally level has been hit.

You’re buying post a small move in the direction of the long-term trend, after the correction / rally level has been hit.

You’re buying out of the money to compound the cheapness.

You’re buying with breathing space on your side, so that the trade has enough time to pan out in your favour.

You’re not booking without a very solid reason, once the trade is running in your favour.

You’re trying to book (deep) in the money.

You must, must, must let your profits run as long as you can. This is the toughest part, but also the most essential one.

That’s all.

No Greeks.

Just common sense.

So… Where do Options Fit in?

I’m on the move.

I play the markets.

How do I combine these two facts?

Life didn’t give me a desk job.

It did give me an appetite for risk, though.

Another two facts to be combined…

I like doing new stuff.

I don’t like following old norms.

You got it, another two facts…

I like breathing easy.

I want to participate, though.

I don’t mind losing… small…

… as long as I can win big too…

… without risking too much…

… facts, facts, facts.

What’s the one common denominator?

Options.

What do options mean to me?

– an auto-stop that doesn’t need to be fed in daily.

– low risk market participation.

– freedom to be on the move.

– freedom to not look at the markets for many days in a row.

– implementation of new poker-like strategies with huge reward : risk ratios…

– … for which the price is time-component corrosion of the option premium.

– peace of mind.

– the satisfaction that markets don’t rule my day.

– a very challenging arena that pushes my faculties to the maximum.

– an avenue that teaches me about singular stocks, their nuances, how they move, basically their nervous system… this is invaluable knowledge, which no university is capable of teaching.

I could go on.

Explore your options.

Discover Options.

And…How Much Connection Time Exactly?

Well, somebody’s got to ask these questions…

Don’t see very many around me doing so, so I just thought what the heck, let it be me…

This one’s not for all you test-tube jocks in the lab, you know…

Answer’s not about the math really; it’s more about feeling, again…

Nevertheless, this is a very important question.

Answer it wrongly for yourself, and market-play will wreck your life – all avenues of your life, that is. 

And, answer it correctly for yourself – lo and behold, you’ll actually start enjoying your market activity.

The human being ultimately excels in anything he or she enjoys doing. 

This means that if you answer this question correctly, your market activity will yield you profits. 

Told you. This question is important. Answer it.

Let me tell you how I’ve answered it for myself. 

Before that, please understand, that my answer doesn’t have to apply to you.

However, for those who don’t know where to begin while trying to answer the question, it’s a start.

I detest giving Mrs. Market too much power. This was my clue initially, and I built up on this fact. 

Initially, Mrs. M used to take over my life. She used to govern my emotions. It started to rub off on my family. I knew I had to draw a line. 

I started to trade lightly – amounts which my mind could ignore. Then, I did one more thing. 

I started to connect minimally. The was the key step, and it swung the emotional tussle in my favour. Mrs. M’s days of emotional control were over. 

What does minimal connection mean?

You only connect when you have to. Period. 

When you don’t have to connect, you just don’t.

I’ll tell you when all I connect to Mrs. M.

Order-feed – 0 to once a day. Very rarely twice for this in one day. 

Connection for me is having my trading terminal on, and seeing live price-feeds face to face. 

My market research is all offline, so that’s not a connection for me. 

Squaring-off a position – again 0 to once a day. Very rarely twice a day.

Watching the live price-feed – 0 to once a day, and only if if I’m unclear about the buying-pressure versus selling pressure ratio.

That’s it. 

When I don’t identify a potential trade in my offline research, I don’t connect at all. 

When do I connect next?

Whenever I’ve identified the next trade, or a squaring-off situation, all offline. 

There can be two or even three day stretches when I just don’t connect. 

I use options, because they allow me this kind of play for Indian equities. 

Why am I stressing upon the value of minimal connection? 

Connection means exposure to the “Line”. You’ve met the Line before. If not, look up the link on the left (“The Line”). 

Connection to the Line taxes your system, because market forces interfere with your bio-chem. 

Keeping the connection minimal keeps you healthy, and you can go out and do other stuff in life, which rounds you off and refreshes you for your next market-play. 

Keeping the connection minimal detaches you from Mrs. M. You are able to detach at will. This lets you focus on your family when your family members require your attention. 

Keeping the connection minimal makes the task of swallowing your small losses smoother. 

Lastly, keeping the connection minimal helps you let your profits run. 

So, how does one define minimal?

Do the math, and come out with rules for your minimal connectivity, like the ones I’ve come out with above, for myself. 

After that, while sticking to your rules for minimal connectivity, only connect to Mrs. M when you feel the burning desire to do so, like for example upon the identification of a sizzling hot trade, or for the order-feed of a trigger exit after a profit-run or something like that. 

Yeah, you minimise even after your rules.

That’s your minimal connection.  

Options Setup El Cheapo

What are the basic ingredients of a cheap options setup?

We’re not bothered about what the underlying is.

We’re outlining in general. 

A correction / rally needs to have taken place. 

The correction / rally level needs to be significant.

That’ll account for the cheapness of the option.

I suppose it’s obvio, but I’m still saying it nevertheless, that you’re going to be trading in the counter-correction or counter-rally direction, but in tandem with the overall long-term trend.

Then, a slight move needs to have started in your trade direction after this significant correction / rally. 

That could account for correct choice of trade direction. 

We need just one more ingredient.

Can you guess what that is?

Yeah, breathing space. 

Allow the trade time to pan out in your direction. 

Buy an option which has at least 3-4 weeks left till expiry, if not more. 

That’s it. 

It’s as simple as that. 

Lucrative ideas are simple. There is nothing complicated about them. 

Lose your sophistication and / or complicatedness. You’re not going to make it big by being sophisticated or complicated. These two characteristics will negatively affect your trading. Flush them down the drain. 

Be simple. 

Happy trading. 

🙂