Friday, January 18, 2013

Wolfinger, The Option Trader’s Mindset

Mark D. Wolfinger of Options for Rookies fame has launched an e-book publishing venture. The Option Trader’s Mindset: Think Like a Winner (150 pages and available for under $10 through Amazon) is the first of a planned series of books for option traders.

Self-publishing is always fraught with danger: never underestimate the value of a good editor and proofreader. The copyright page, for instance, has the usual caveat but with an unfortunate twist: “No part of this book may not be reproduced….” (my italics) A good editor would undoubtedly have restructured this book to minimize repetition and to expand on some of the telegraphic points, but then it would probably have cost upwards of $30 or $40. And the reader would not have learned all that much more, perhaps even less.

The main theme of the book is how to develop a way of thinking that benefits a trader’s career. Basically, it comes down to putting risk management and money management center stage and overcoming the psychological baggage that impels people to focus exclusively on potential profits (preferably quick and outsized). Yes, yes, I know you’ve heard this before. But I’d wager to say that most traders, with the exception of the nervous Nellies who find it difficult even to pull the trigger and for whom risk is something to be avoided at all costs, still haven’t absorbed the lesson.

Wolfinger takes the trader through a range of risk management techniques with specific examples, from adjustments to pulling the plug. He draws on his time as an active blogger to address questions from his readers, many of whom found themselves in losing positions and sought ways to turn the tide. His advice is almost always eminently sound. For example, one reader was desperately trying to repair a losing position. Wolfinger wisely answered: “When you make money, the dollars spend the same, regardless of which stock produces those profits. Do not feel compelled to earn money from XXXX.” (p. 62) Indeed, sometimes adjustments are just throwing good money after bad; better to move on.

This book is not meant as a guide to options strategies, but there are some useful tips about how to match strategies to market conditions. Iron condor traders are particularly well served.

Wolfinger recognizes that the path to profits is personal. He offers guideposts but consistently stresses that one size doesn’t fit all. “The winning mindset is to find a way of trading that is both comfortable and profitable.” (p. 127)

Although this book is editorially rough-edged, it conveys a lot of valuable information, particularly for the newer (or the not consistently profitable) options trader.

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