Monday, May 18, 2009

Overcoming Slings and Arrows of Screen Trading

By, Ken Celiano, Psy.D. and Mark Paulik, MBA

The first lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy reveal a common dilemma traders at a crossroads face when debating whether to stay the course or throw in the towel.

To be, or not to be: that is the question. Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them?
The world of trading has been rapidly transformed by the rise of screen trading at the expense of pit trading. Hamlet’s contemplation of whether to commit to life or allow death to take him toward uncertainty is similar to traders who wonder whether they still have what it takes to be the “brave new trader” in a world of nanosecond speed and egalitarian markets.

Psychological and financial endurance become necessary ingredients as traders face the brutal facts of their industry and the most basic question: “What am I going to do to survive?”

David Silverman’s article in SFO’s January 2008 issue addressed the extinction of the pit trader and the psychological impact the loss of that identity has on one’s being (“I trade; therefore, I am.”). So, if traders cease to trade, who do they become? Silverman noted reluctance on the part of his trader colleagues to answer this question publicly and chose to create a fictional character to tell the tale of the death of the pit trader.

Well, in this article we explore how three ex-pit traders from Chicago, despite being uncertain about their future, learn to become brave new traders and survive in the electronic age. Their experiences are not just applicable to ex-pit traders; all traders can learn something about improving their trading skill from the process they have used.

These traders have given us permission to share their self-examinations with you in the hope that it inspires a second chance to learn how to strategically survive the challenges that lay ahead.

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