Gauging the Crowd

What was it about winning?

Someone did observe, that 12% of market players win in Equity markets.

In Forex, the number is much lower, something like 5%, I believe. 

If these numbers are to be believed, what’s the obvious takeaway for us?

Behaving like the crowd will not make us…

…win.

Or, in other words, to win, we need to behave in a manner which is not exhibited by the crowd. 

This makes us gauge crowd behaviour…

…almost all the time. 

For example, what does everyone want to do just now?

What did everyone want to do in March?

Did we do the opposite?

If so, we are winning now.

It’s not that one can switch one’s buttons just like that.

It takes experience, solid research, conviction and will-power to go against normal market behaviour.

It doesn’t just come. 

One works towards it, and the only learning comes from mistakes made with one’s money on the line.

That’s the price of tuition in the markets. Unfortunately, books probably won’t teach you this one.

Those who don’t pay this tution-price early, when their ticket-size is still small, well, they can eventually end up doing so later, at a much larger ticket-size.

Just make your mistakes, as many as you can, as early as possible. 

Don’t repeat a mistake.

Great. You’re done already!

How does one gauge the crowd?

Let’s listen in. What are people saying? How many tips are circulating? What’s the quality of these tips? What’s the level of enthusiasm? Is the doorman talking stocks? Folks going all-in at the top?

Or, does no one want to have to do anything with the market? Are you getting calls asking whether one should stop one’s SIP? Is your close relative aghast that you have your money in stocks? Is he or she alerting you to the possibility of an absurd-looking bottom?

The human being is an emotional entity. Blessed be us Indians, we take the cake in being emotional. Not for nothing are our markets correspondingly volatile. And that’s great news for Equity players.

Why?

You’ll see wild swings in the playing fields.

Our indices roller-coast hugely, perhaps the most in the investable world.

We get fantastic bottoms to enter…

…and amazing tops to exit.

Question is, do we leave ourselves in a position to take advantage of this?

Are we continuously gauging the crowd?

Are we continuously behaving like the crowd?

Or, have we made it a habit…

…to win?

Give Me My Table & I’ll Undetach

Detaching…

… .

My work is done for the day.

Enjoying the remainder of the day is now a priority. 

Would that be possible without detaching from the workplace?

No.

Is it that easy…

…to detach?

No.

Am I successful in detaching?

Reasonably.

Just like that?

No.

Meaning?

It’s taken me fifteen years to learn to detach reasonably well from the markets, …

… and, there are still times when external factors cause unwanted and untimely re-attachment.

The next time I wish to undetach (yeah, just made up this word!) is the next time I wish to engage. 

To undetach, all I need is my work-table. 

Rest follows on auto. 

However, when I’m not on my work-table, mostly, I don’t wish to undetach, …

…and surely enough, someone will want to discuss markets, …

…or someone switches on financial TV, …  

…or one catches a headline in the paper, …

…or a tip can’t be refrained from being given, …

…or, well, use your imagination.

Getting around peoples’ free-fund-attitude is the biggest challenge for a market-practitioner, in my opinion. 

You might master market-etiquette, and you might learn how to detach in isolation. However, people won’t spare you

Detaching despite people while living and thriving amongst people is one huge win. 

Getting there…

… 🙂 .

Control

Who’s in control?

You?

Market?

Does the market control you?

Do you control yourself?

How do you answer this?

Why are these questions relevant?

Control is pivotal. 

It sets the tone for market life, and its overhang affects normal life too. 

That’s why it is essential to have such control in one’s hands, and not hand it over to Mrs. Market. 

So, how does one answer this question?

What triggers you to open your terminal?

The market?

Or you yourself, at a time and place of your own choosing?

If your answer is the former, the market controls how you act.

However, if you decide when and where to let market forces into your life, and for how much time, well, then you’ve not handed over such control. 

Bravo!

How did you position yourself to achieve this?

Primary income not from the markets? 

Not.

Don’t listen to tips?

Don’t.

Have a set time for work?

True.

Have a set place for work?

Roger.

Have a set system that’s implemented?

Affirmative.

Watch market TV?

Nope. 

Read financial news online, or in print?

Only while researching a company.

Do your own solid research?

Do.

‘K, you’ve not handed over control all right.

Sure. Hand over control and the next thing you know it’s your life you’re handing over. 

The Tipping Point

What is it about tips?

Why do they have that lure? That magnetic effect? That greed-invoking element? That goosebumps-causing energy?

Tips thrive in any market. 

They are given at the drop of a hat. 

The giver feels he or she is doing a favour. The receiver feels obliged. 

What has led to the giver feeling complaecent that he or she has something one his or her hands?

The giver was a receiver, a very short time ago. 

He or she got sucked …

… into the story. 

The story is tempting. 

It builds upon many half-truths and binds them together in such a presentable manner, that one’s defences, if any, are just maimed. 

In comes the tip. 

Off goes the mind, counting the unmade bucks.

In goes the money. 

Mostly, it doesn’t materialize. 

Why?

Tips do the rounds as short-cuts in people’s half-baked minds. 

A short-cut to wealth. 

The 99% here don’t want to do the spade work. They don’t want to get their hands dirty. They want spectacular returns, though, and they want them now. 

That’s the short-circuit. 

Investing is about doing lots of research. You dig. And then some more. It’s about patience. You wait. And then some more. It’s about having a sorted mind, and then going in. It’s a full-time occupation, unless you streamline it so well, that it then goes hand in hand with your other daily activities, and drops into the background like a mantra that keeps resonating with your breath. 

Does one become a brain-surgeon in a few hours?

Do you ask the brain-surgeon to teach you brain surgery in a day?

NO. 

It takes time, study, effort, will-power, finances, mindset, etc. etc. to become a brain-surgeon. 

It takes a lot of similar things to become a successful investor. 

You make yourself into one. 

It’s your effort. 

You don’t become one following tips.

People ask for tips. Daily. It’s a disease. I’m scarcely able to deal with it. I just evade. 

Folks, those who ask for tips are expecting to be made a brain-surgeon in one day. Not happening. It’s a short-circuited way of thinking. Don’t ask for tips. Invest on your own. Do the study. Invest the time and effort. Make mistakes. Become fully baked.

Go for it. 

The whole nine yards. 

Yeah, the whole hog. 

I know a guy who knows another guy who knows this guy…

Well, congratulations.

So you’re well connected.

You probably play golf with the CEO of Big Balls Incorporated.

We’re not even going into how you wangled the slot.

You probably feel, that because of your connectedness, you can get away with anything in life.

Well, almost anything.

That’s the bottom-line.

You can get away with almost anything in life.

Here are two areas where your connectivity counts jack. As in El Zero. Nadda.

One is before the Almighty (presuming that God exists). Buying a slot with God using connections isn’t gonna cut it with the big guy. You can’t buy personal time with deities using money and / or connections, even if you think you can. Also, that “bought” time, when you shoved everyone else out of line, well, that time’s not going to make your life any better, or richer. You’ve just established yourself as someone who shoves others out of line using connections….that’s how your deity is going to view your performance. So, what you’re going to understand from this space is that before deities – the Almighty – God – the Metaphysical – or whatever you might want to call what I’m talking about, connections don’t work. You only end up scoring negative in your deity’s books.

Which brings us to the more relevant matter – where else do connections not work?

In the marketplace of course, my friend.

Don’t believe me? Fine, find it out for yourself, the hard way. Or, read on.

You see, in the marketplace, insiders have an agenda. All insiders. They have an agenda.

That agenda is personal. It includes them. It doesn’t include you … … if you’re not connected to the insider. Once you are, and you use that connection to fish for “lucrative” inside information, that’s where the insider’s agenda starts to include you. The information you get is as per the agenda of the insider. If a promoter wishes to off-load huge quantities of stock, you will be told that the stock’s a good buy, because blah-blah-blah-blah-blah. On the other hand, if the promoter wishes to buy back large quantities of stock, because of attractive valuations, you’ll be told to sell the stock owing to tricky prospects in the future. You are not getting quality information when you fish for tips. You’ll only find yourself getting trapped if you follow insider tips.

There are good insiders too … is that what you are saying? Ok, fine, some insiders are good human beings. They are not vicious, and they wish you well. They might even want to do you a favour, wishing that you make some money from the information they are letting out. All true. Question is, does it really work?

No.

Why?

You see, an insider never functions alone. When a company experiences a turnaround or a great quarter comes along with excellent earnings, white-collared people connected to the functioning of the company obviously know this, and they leak this information out (for a price) to smart researchers and investors. These smarties (along with their entire intimate circle of connectivity) buy into the company’s prospects. The money moved is called smart money. Smart money registers / reflects on the traders’ charts. The scrip might show a bounce-back from a low with huge volume, or a resistance might be broken, or a new high could even be made (all coupled with large volume). Traders latch on. Price movers higher. All this is happening before the CEO has announced quarterly results, mind you. Finally, a few days before the results, the corresponding results-file lands on the CEO’s desk. He or she congratulates his or her staff on the spectacular performance, and over a round of golf, the information is shared with you. The CEO is obviously thinking that the market is going to react positively to the earnings surprise that’s going to be announced.

Well, the earnings are not going to be a surprise. The market already knows, and earnings have thus already been factored into the price, before results are announced. Announcement time is generally selling time for traders, who tend to sell all stock upon the first spike after announcement. With no more buying pressure (since traders are out of the scrip), the inflated scrip tanks despite the good news, leaving you stuck with a peak-price buy. Well done, well done indeed.

See, that’s why. Don’t listen to insiders, even if they mean well.

In the marketplace, you really are on your own. Isn’t that exciting? As in challenging?

All the best, my friend. Learn to rely on your own judgement.