This time I get to speak to one half of the Two Blokes Trading (TBT) team. Owen (the one half, Tom being the other) takes time from his busy trading, website and podcasting schedule to answer a few questions about his interesting entrance into the world of trading.
When I received Owen’s responses I was happy to see that the same good natured humour came through in his answers. He also provides one of the more amusing responses I’ve had to a quick fire question; you’ll know when you’ve read it. He is also the first person I’ve come across to share the same favourite financially themed movie as me, which is a rarity.
But before you skip to the end, check out the main interview as Owen shares his journey with TBT, thoughts on his own trading and what he’s learnt since his accelerated introduction to the world of trading.
[CJ – Chris Johnston | Owen – Two Blokes Trading]
CJ: Two Blokes Trading; a straight to the point but catchy title. Where did this journey begin? Why trading? Was it a conversation had with Tom down at the pub? Did you know others trading etc.
Owen: We’ve known each other for 10 years. Tom was the first one to get into trading and dragged me along with him soon after…
CJ: What drove you to produce a weekly podcast as well as all the website content? Had either of you had any experience in this area previously?
Owen: Nope! But I was a big fan of Rob Booker’s ‘Traders Podcast’. Weirdly I had been listening to it for a year or so (since Tom first mentioned trading to me) before we actually did any trading or created TBT. I have listened to podcasts for years and realised it was a great way to reach a new audience. Plus it is great fun! Insulting Tom and publishing that to the internet – what’s not to like?
CJ: You started June last year (2016), it seems to have grown pretty quickly, with you producing c.46 podcast episodes to date. Has it been a bit of a whirlwind?
Owen: I’m going to play it cool and say we took it all in our stride…honest…
CJ: You mention what the overall mission is of TBT on your website, but for the sake of the readers, could you elaborate on this? Has it changed since TBT’s inception?
Owen: The official, altruistic, aim of TBT is to inform, inspire and entertain traders and aspiring traders. My secret selfish aim is to get to talk to lots of profitable traders and expedite my journey to consistent trading profitability!
CJ: One of the enticing aspects of the podcast (I feel) is the banter you guys have with each other, something which is refreshing to hear, presumably you know each other very well. But was that the desired nature for the podcast to begin with, to have it with a bit of light hearted chat or was it more organic?
Owen: I always felt that there was enough serious trading chat out there and the world didn’t need any more straight-laced analysis. We also realised that, in particular at the beginning, we had no actual knowledge so we had better make it fun! As well as interview some winning traders of course.
CJ: On the subject of knowing each other for a while, how did you guys meet? Think I heard that you two used to share an office at a recruitment firm?
Owen: We actually met at the Officers Training Corps at University and then somehow ended up working together in recruitment. Until recently we actually ran a recruitment business together. But this is far more fun so we’ve sacked off recruitment!
CJ: Another reason to listen to the podcast is the detail you go into. You tend to really break down and dig into interesting topics on the podcast, especially when talking to your guests e.g. David Papier from ETX Capital, Michael Hewson from CMC markets and more recently the episode with Andrew from Financefeeds.com about the FXCM scandal etc.
How do you go about getting these people on the podcast? How do you approaching them? Is it a case of once you have one contact they recommend someone else?
Owen: I like to think of Tom as a super enthusiastic puppy who will do anything for anyone and believes that they will do anything for him too. That makes it easy for him to get guests!
CJ: Is TBT your sole focus at the moment?
Owen: That and my own trading!
CJ: Let’s move onto actual trading. What are your trading goals? Additional income or to go full time and trade with a Zacapa rum in your hand on a beach in Bora Bora?
Owen: I want to master the art of trading. The income will be nice but for me it is being good at the thing. The more I interview successful traders, the more I realise that trading is a skill. My goal is to master that skill and become great at trading. I want to be a world class trader. I enjoy business too much to never do that again, but I do see the majority of my time continuing to be taken up with trading, even once I get really good at it! I get bored after about 4 days of a holiday so I don’t think the Bora Bora scenario is really going to work for me.
CJ: What were your initial thoughts on trading before starting out? Easy, hard, understood the challenge? And has this changed since?
Owen: I was mainly worried that it was just gambling and that the house always won. Now I know that the house often wins and people often lose BUT if you apply yourself and stick at it, and have a modicum of intelligence, then you can become a winning trader. It is my belief that most of the ‘90% of traders lose money’ statistic is people who simply gave up before they became profitable.
CJ: Is it generally Forex that you both trade? Or do you delve into Stocks and Indices? Any particular reason for this decision?
Owen: Forex for me. I trade fundamentals and there is only so much you can keep abreast of with the fundamentals, so I can’t also do commodities and indices or whatever. I like the binary nature of the theory of fundamentals (inflation up = interest rate up = currency up) but that this often doesn’t play out in real life and gives opportunities to make money. Tom would say that I just like the opportunity to be a smart-arse.
CJ: At the start, was it pure self research before completing some courses, i.e. did you go through the rite of passage BabyPips University?
Owen: I did read a lot of baby pips and also some beginner books. Then I did Brandon Turner’s forex fundamentals course – you can Google him, he’s great. Now I am taking it to the next step and doing Jarratt Davis’ course. I was lucky that the pod gave me access to a lot of great traders and accelerated my learning by talking to them. Mostly though, I learn best by just tuning in to the markets and seeing the news and data come in and observing how that moves the markets. You can’t buy experience!
CJ: So far you’ve had a fairly unique and rapid introduction and journey into the trading world thanks to the website and podcast. Do you think this has accelerated the pace of your learning?
Owen: Ah, yes I just answered this question! Yes – definitely! It accelerated it in two ways – firstly, every chat we’ve had I’ve tried to take away some nugget of wisdom. In the earlier eps it was risk management and psychology, then later it was specific trading tips. Secondly it helped me work out what and how I wanted to trade. I realised that Forex was the main thing for me and that I liked fundamentals more than technical. I worked this out by speaking to a handful of people – it would have taken a lot more trial and error otherwise!
CJ: As you are early on in your trading career, you are finding your feet and trying to seek out strategies that make logical sense to you and fit your own personalities. Because you are testing various strategies for the community etc. Are you finding it hard to not jump from strategy to strategy if you test one and think ‘yeh, that’s better than the one I trade currently’?
Owen: Yes! Particularly hard for me is to not spend ages trying to put together a technical ‘edge’ and shoving that into a Robot / Algo trading system. I will probably do this at some point as so many of the people we speak to are making money like this, but for now I am focusing on getting myself great a Forex fundamentals.
CJ: This leads into the new section to appear on the website (I believe), the course reviews. Is this in part to assist other traders in picking the right course without being scammed but also for you yourselves to learn as much as you can?
Owen: Definitely. We never feature anything we haven’t verified ourselves. We are going to be going through two courses from start to finish from the beginning of May 2017 and posting weekly updates. I will be doing Jarratt Davis’ course and I am really looking forward to it!
CJ: What strategies are you guys testing at the moment? Last I heard Owen, you were testing a fundamental strategy looking specifically at the moves between the London and NY sessions. Whereas Tom just finished with the Super Trend and have moved onto the S3/R3 pivots mentioned by Sam Leach in ep. 35. Can you elaborate how you came to look into these strategies and how they’re going?
Owen: The London v New York session idea may have some merit but I need to get that back tested over a longer period. I messed it up a bit by trying to overlay my own fundamental analysis on it, which was daft. It is something I still hold a candle for – in fact I should probably update the pod on that, thanks for the reminder! But, my live account trading at the moment is forex majors, looking at fundamentals and sentiment, using Fibonacci retracements for entries and exits.
CJ: It’s been said that you are more a news junkie, (a maverick some people might say), who would be happy to sit and watch the world burn (direct quote) and have taken delight in the recent events of BREXIT & Trump. Do you keep each other in check with your trading?
Owen: Haha…oh dear. I sometimes forget that people actually listen to the pod and my deeply flawed personality is being put out there for all to see! Yes we do – listen to the recent episode 46 to hear me take down Tom for his blatant disregard for trading basics and his weak mental strength!
CJ: There have been a few ‘friendly’ competitions on a week-long basis to see who has made the most pips throughout the week. Do you find that a bit of competitiveness is a hindrance or a help?
Owen: That depends if I win or not! Ha, ok, on a serious note, I actually am not sure that competition is a good thing. The weeks in that competition where I lost like 250 pips or something horrendous were easily my worst trading weeks since I started! It puts you under pressure to trade when you are not certain. Trading has enough pressure anyway! But, it was fun and I think people enjoyed listening to our meltdowns, so it was worth it…I think.
CJ: An interesting episode was when you spoke to Moritz from Edgewonk (check out my interview with Rolf Schlotmann, Moritz’ business partner, here). How have you found using a professional journal has affected your trading? And would you consider it as a necessity (a journal that is) as part for the traders arsenal?
Owen: Yes and yes. Edgewonk is great and it really helps me keep tabs on myself, see what I can improve and stop myself from deviating from the plan. I like navel-gazing as well, and it means I can spend loads of time thinking about how great I am, which I love.
CJ: What makes Edgewonk better when compared to say a homemade spreadsheet for your trade analytics?
Owen: It essentially operates like a very high-function spreadsheet. So on the one hand…not much…but on the other hand it is less than couple of hundred dollars and would probably take weeks to create yourself! Also, they have introduced features like plugging directly into your platform and things now, so it is going beyond a spreadsheet.
CJ: A journal is something every successful trader swears by, have you seen an improvement in your trading since you’ve started keeping a journal?
Owen: Hmm hard to say as I wasn’t really trading with any real style, plan or consistency before I got my journal. It definitely helps though!
CJ: Are there a few key things that you have learnt (or unlearnt) since starting out and receiving advice from various people?
Owen: The main thing I have learned is how to go from knowing nothing to having a trading style that you trust and makes you money without bouncing around for years with no plan and losing money. Basically: Choose a style that you like the sound of and find demonstrable track records of other people who trade that style so you know it can work. Then refine it and create an ‘edge’ or rules by spending time with the charts on a demo/small money account. Back test as much as possible. Now you know it works, go and trade it and don’t change! You might have to jump system a couple of times to find the one you really like, but the profitable traders I know all have a system or market they know really well and don’t jump between systems. They all have been through the above process or a close variation of it. Personally I am on the next stage – once you’ve got a system and aren’t going to change it, prove to yourself over 3, 6, 12 months then years that you can trade it profitably with consistency. Hopefully if we speak in 6 or 12 months I’ll have proven I can do this medium to long term with results. I am excited to finally be at a place where I know what I want to trade and how, now I just have to go and do it!
CJ: Thoughts on mechanical vs discretionary systems? Which side of the fence do you sit on?
Owen: I am a big believer that all different types of systems can work. I have spoken to profitable mechanical and discretionary traders. Anyone who doesn’t believe mechanical systems work should read about the Turtle Traders. Anyone who doesn’t believe discretionary will work should just look at George Soros or someone. Personally I much prefer discretionary, so that’s what I do. Mechanical systems bore me, or at least trading them day in day out would bore me. They probably make great money once you’ve got them nailed, but I’d rather make money doing something I enjoy.
CJ: From what you’ve seen in your opinion, do you think trading is a teachable skill or do you think someone has to have the knack for it to become successful?
Owen: Definitely teachable. I really think that most people, if they take it seriously, treat it like a business and educate themselves, can become a good trader. But they have to give it time – for me, at least, it really hasn’t happened over night. No matter what you read most people have to make mistakes for themselves. I was a losing trader in 2016, I am a moderately profitable trader in 2017. If I had quit after 6 months I would always have been a loser.
CJ: And finally, are there any big ticket items / features / guests you’ve got planned for the future?
Owen: I am very excited about going through Jarratt Davis’ course and getting him on the podcast again. Jim Mellon also agreed a while ago to come on, so hopefully I can persuade him to make an appearance!
Quick Fire Questions:
Number of Screens you use to trade
Owen: Two. One for charts, one for research & economic calendar etc.
Preferred Trading Platform(s)
Owen: XTB’s front end – xStation 5.
Most unusual place you’ve placed a trade
Owen: In a field whilst my dog was humping someone else’s dog. I got a price alert…what else could I do?
Owen: The World Is Yours (The tagline from Scarface). Inspirational quotes can be a bit too mawkish for me, so I tend to go for obnoxiously bullish quotes instead.
Favourite Financial Themed Movie
Owen: Margin Call. The Jeremy Iron’s ‘happy f***s and sad sacks’ speech is superb.
One book that everyone must read (trading or non-trading related)
Owen: Total Recall. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s biography. The man is a total winner.
One financial / trading themed book that everyone must read
Owen: The Richest Man in Babylon. If you don’t understand the importance of saving and compounding gains you will never make any money or keep any you do make.
Favourite holiday destination
Favourite beverage to wind down with
Owen: A pint of Badger First Gold.
Thanks to Owen for taking the time to provide honest and insightful answers to my questions. It’s great to know that people like Owen and Tom are out there providing a real service to the retail community. Go check out the Two Blokes Trading website and podcast to discover a wealth of useful information for your own trading journey.
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/twoblokestrading
Until next time.