January 12, 2018


My rambling review of 2017 (mostly my screw-ups)


“Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again too few to mention…” so sang the late great Frank Sinatra. Whilst an undoubtedly great song I have always struggled with that line. You see I’ve never understood people who say “I have no regrets….” for when I look back at my life I have plenty of regrets. That’s not to imply I’m unhappy, or ungrateful, or that I’m seething with resentment, for I am not. I just know that there’s lots of things that if I had the chance again I would do differently. I’m well aware that I cannot change the past, just my attitude towards it, and that what’s done is done. Perhaps it’s just my perfectionist streak that doesn’t let up on me about past mistakes. Always driving me on to learn from them and improve against a bar/standard that I’ll never achieve. Make of that what you will. Which leads us onto this blog piece and the review of my own year.

Welcome to 2018 traders – I hope you enjoyed the break and that you’re ready for an interesting year ahead.

As for myself I closed down shop over the Christmas period. Apart from an occasional glance at a chart of Ripple I stayed away from all markets and trading. For me, it was the right choice.

As part of my downtime I like to conduct a review not only of my data but also of my behaviour and my decisions, along with planning my year ahead. This blog post is part of that. I apologise for the length and the rambling nature of it. You don’t actually have to read this yourselves if you don’t want to – it’s more a missive to myself about mistakes I made and lessons to learn (or even re-learn). Perhaps some of it will resonate with your own experience, perhaps some of it will make no sense, perhaps some of it will offend you – I can’t control how people interpret my words so I don’t bother trying. It is what it is.

I’m always happy to talk about my mistakes, misses, the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s. I figure people can learn more from my mistakes than my successes. Furthermore it shows that none of us are exempt from the human condition or perfect in our trading.  None of us are beyond reproach – we are all striving, and evolving, towards being the best trader that we can be.

So lets see what shall I start with? How about the markets and the correction that never came.

What, no crash? I wrote 2 blog pieces at the start of summer about how I sensed that we may have reached the highs and be due a healthy correction, if not a crash. The summer came, and went, and so did my plan. I was wrong. Dead wrong. Completely wrong. For which I apologise.  Markets looked like they may roll-over but in reality they just took a breather before resuming their upwards, unstoppable momentum. Even though I had a suspicion that markets may roll over that was not an indication to sell everything but I did have a few short trades on the NASDAQ which were profitable but never truly followed through.  I remember reading an interview with (I believe) Stanley Druckenmiller  who talked about how when he worked for Soros that if George wanted to short a market the first thing he would do…is buy it. If it kept going up then it was not ready to roll-over and he would stay away. Wise advice – if you can afford it. And it’s exactly what I should have done. When my NASDAQ shorts ran out of energy that was my first warning sign. The next was once price had traded back up to previous highs, and then broke them, I should have bought the market. That was remiss of me. The market is always communicating to us – it had told me that it wasn’t ready to go down, it wanted to carry on up…..and I did not leverage that information accordingly. Shame on you Paul.

Lesson for Paul:  I’m actually coming round to the idea that we’ll continue grinding north – which was helped by some excellent insight from a client – experienced traders are fearful, they’re like a cat on a hot tin roof, but that’s rarely when crashes happen. They happen when fear has left the market and everyone is complacent – and we’re not at that point yet. So we grind north, we maybe have a good melt-up, and then it all goes ‘Pete Tong’ – but that could be 6-18 months in the future. For the moment you have to trade what you see – and markets have been continuing North. I’m always reminded of this quote:

“Citigroup CEO Chuck Prince told the Financial Times in July 2007: “When the music stops, in terms of liquidity, things will be complicated. But as long as the music is playing, you’ve got to get up and dance. We’re still dancing.”

You can have all the opinions you want Paul….but the music is still playing.

(He actually said this in Nov 2007 when people may suggest that the music had already stopped playing. If it had not stopped, the markets were certainly at that quarter-to-2 in the Disco time when you did a quick prowl of the dance floor to pull a girl for the last dance. I believe they call it ‘bin-raking’ these days. Charming. You get what I mean. The end was nigh.)

Crypto – Too late to the party. Simple as that. I had always treated it as a bit of a fad. I also think it’s a culture / generational thing. I remember very clearly the Dot-Com bubble. There are many differences (for me at least). During all the dot-com hype I could actually see and understand the implications of the new companies and technologies. A company that you could buy pretty much any book in the world at cheaper prices than the book store and have it delivered? Yes, I’ll have a bit of Amazon thank-you. Having all your Music downloaded into one cool looking gadget the size of a cigarette packet? Yes, I’ll have some Apple. Being able to buy your Waitrose Groceries online and have them delivered? Yes, I’ll have a bit of Occado thank-you. Even Lastminute.Com (the straw that broke the camels back) I could understand that here was a website that offered a one-stop shop for all your last minute holiday getaways.  Furthermore the Tech companies that underpinned the internet infrastructure I could understand (which was a good job as I was working in Telco and Internet Tech at the time.)

Whereas Bitcoin seemed a bit of a fad for me. And my experiences just reinforced that. Last summer I was in a coffee shop in Ballsbridge, South Dublin minding my own business reading the FT when the guy at the table next to me started blathering on at me about how he was the ‘chief imagineer’ (no, I have no idea what one of those is either) for the HSE (the Irish equivalent of the NHS) and that he was asking would I invest in his idea for a ‘health bitcoin’ where people’s health records would be allocated bitcoin and the more healthy your lifestyle was the more of these coins you’d be allocated.  I couldn’t help but think that this guy’s time and effort would be better spent sorting out the present-day HSE (which in many cases is in a worse state than the NHS) rather than being paid top dollar to think up hare-brained ideas like that.

Another example was just before Christmas we had an electrician in to fix some lights and he was telling me about his Bitcoin holdings. Now fair play to him, he’d bought in at approx. $300 so when the price was hitting 15-16,000 USD just before Christmas he was cock-a-hoop with excitement. I am chuffed that he has made money – but when your electrician is giving you investment advice an old cynic like me starts to get a bit grizzly.

My grizzliness was extended by not backing myself on Ripple / XRP earlier. I had monitored it for the last 2-3 months but it had already sailed past my ideal entry point. I was forced to join the party at 25 cents..only for it to have gone past 48 cents by the time I bought. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.  It is what it is.

So I do have some Crypto exposure, but no-where near as much as I would have liked. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. Furthermore in the interests of full disclosure I have not made much personal gain from my Crypto holdings. However, my 8 nieces, nephews and god-children on the other hand have done very well. The Jammy Bastards. (When I was a kid I used to be happy if I got a Subbuteo set and a model Spitfire! Times have changed.)

Lesson for Paul: Overcome your own bias and get back to being an early adopter. My experience of the Dot-Com boom (even though I did well out of it) had made me overly cautious. There’s money to be made in the run-up, the inevitable crash, and the aftermath if you plan it right.

2018 FX – Normally at the end of each year I have an idea about where my focus should be in terms of a particular FX pair for Q1-2 of the next year. There’s normally one FX pair that stands out as a ripe target for my focus. Last year was USD – and the price action in January just confirmed that. For the first time in a good few years I have no particular bias for any particular FX pair going into this year. I shall wait and see what the markets offer up.

Lesson for Paul: Watch and Shoot – watch and shoot! The Comdolls have started well so far this year.

Intra-day trading. I used to do it a lot. Then, not so much. Over the last 2 years I have done a little bit but on a purely opportunistic basis i.e. if i was at my desk for a few days then I’d look at what was available.  And in the second half of 2017 I found myself returning to it. Partly because of market conditions but also partly because my schedule allowed me to structure my time better to focus upon it.  Furthermore I found myself re-visiting the 1 minute chart – in particular on the DAX. (Most of my previous intraday trades were made on 15 & 5 min charts).

I have avoided the 1 minute for a long time. Some of you may know why. When I first started trading FX many years ago my mentor encouraged me to trade 1 minute charts. It turned out at the time that I was not very good at it. Why? Firstly I found that it tapped into the hyper-aggressive side of me. It brought out my killer instinct, and not always in a good way. Secondly I found the 1 minute charts were too slow for me. How so? When I sat down and reflected upon it I realised that when I’d been a Fighter Controller I used to watch radar screens update 6 times a minute. So every 10 seconds I would have a new picture and need to make a decision: climb, descend, turn, accelerate, interrogate, engage etc. So waiting 60 seconds for a candle to complete seemed like an absolute life-time. So on one hand I had hyper-aggressiveness rearing its head (the part of Paul that wants to kill everything) and on the other hand I was applying the brakes as I waited for the chart to update. This meant i was getting into trades too soon, and also getting out of them too quickly, if it wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do swiftly then I’d pull the plug on the trade, and was therefore cutting myself off from profits and opportunity. So I decided to give 1 minute charts a miss many years ago.

However recently I had noticed that a lot of my intra-day trades upon reflection were offering earlier opportunities to get on board at better prices thereby reducing my trade risk, and offering a more handsome reward-to-risk potential (see later point below). So I decided to investigate, learn some new ideas and concepts, and see if they could be applied to my intra-day trading. Furthermore I’m a slow old duffer these days, with far more patience and less desire to shoot everything down in front of me (though that desire never really fully leaves you)so trading 1 minute charts doesn’t create the problems it used to.

Lesson for Paul: Get in the fight and start attacking the charts – (ok, maybe that hyper-aggressiveness is returning) anyway there are some great opportunities out there. I have a good trade plan, some great set-ups and the ability to deliver.

Risk-to-Reward Ratio (3R) I had noticed that my risk-to-reward- ratio had diminished over the last 18 months. It was still healthy, and still on the happy side of asymmetric, but no-where near as good as it used to be. Why was that? Is it a case of lack of volatility? Perhaps.

Upon some reflection I realised that I have spent too much time around new traders who are too scared to go for anything more than small gains – those who jump out of a trade after its hit 1:1. I have allowed this to influence my thinking – shame on me!

Lesson for Paul: Push myself to get back to bigger asymmetric reward-to-risk ratios

I’m still shit at trading Swiss Franc: I don’t know why this is – but historically I always have my worst performance on the CHF pairs – why is that? I have no idea. Bunch of cuckoo-clock making, toblerone eating chumps, pissing around with their multi-use (and admittedly very handy) knives

Lesson for Paul: Keep CHF pairs exposure very small. No-one trusts the SNB.

I don’t take enough holidays: that’s just a lesson I’ve realised this last 24 months. There have been some extenuating circumstances with family members health, however I don’t take enough holidays. I take lots of long weekends, and have always worked on the premise that a change is as good as a rest. So spending time in Cheshire, Dublin, London and elsewhere is refreshing for me – and I enjoy being around other traders.  What I realised is that at my age all my friends and relatives are married with kids. They’re going on holiday with their families (even though they’d secretly love to go to the Buenos Aires Rugby 7’s instead) 😉  I get bored with going on holiday on my own – I just end up doing some work…..or getting in trouble. Which tends to be why I avoid holiday invites from other traders – there’s no escape. Anyway I need to get over that and sort out something.

(Also I have a real wanderlust and I’m secretly scared that if I go walkabout….I’ll just never come back! This probably explains why I have resisted buying motorbikes or VW Camper Vans – you’ll never see me again – I’ll just put a satcom on the top of the Van to give me good connectivity and then clear off to the Algarve driving around surf beaches, learning to surf, and spending my nights reading great literature, drinking Port and eating cheese. And then when I’m bored I’ll just drive down through Africa to Cape Town and go surfing there. Actually, upon reflection, this sounds fucking brilliant. It’s a plan. Sign me up.)

Lesson for Paul: book some holidays. Get your girlfriends involved to plan holiday time away from work / markets etc. Get a life you saddo.

Recency Bias, and anchoring effect: For those unaware Recency bias is the tendency to think that trends and patterns we observe in the recent past will continue in the future. (Wikipedia)

As for anchoring its a cognitive bias that describes the common human tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered when making decisions. Once an anchor is set, other judgments are made by adjusting away from that anchor, and there is a bias toward interpreting other information around the anchor. (Wikipedia)

We all experience them but I have noticed that I have a real challenge with it.  Maybe its a new thing, or maybe its something I always had but have just raised my awareness of it recently. I’ve noticed them in both my trading and my personal life (particularly with buying/renting a place in South Dublin – but that’s another story. I realise that the trader in me only wants to buy at my price – not at what the market is demanding from me – because I believe it be overvalued. I am anchored to prices from 2012 when I first moved there and looking at the recent patterns of rising prices (for rental and purchase) leaves me feeling like I’m buying into a parabolic move and that I am chasing price – something I religiously refuse to do in my trading.) I’ve fallen prey to one of the oldest tricks in the book. Shame on you Paul!

Lesson for Paul: Learn from this raised awareness. Those two biases rarely help you. Put up or shut-up. Preferably both.

Trading Challenge: I have decided based on the points above to give myself a trading challenge. I often talk to intra-day traders about how in an ideal world you should be trading the Triple Three: Three hours a day, Three days a week for Three weeks a month, otherwise it becomes very easy to burn out as an intra-day trader. Based on the lessons learnt above I decided to do my own version of this from the end of January. Regardless of my other trading activities I will prioritise my own Triple Three challenge: Three hours a day of intra-day trading, Three days a week, for Three ‘R’ a session. This will either go spectacularly well…or horrifically wrong. We shall wait and see.

There you go – if you’ve made it this far and haven’t cut your own wrists then you deserve a big strong glass of whisky! (I did say you didn’t have to read it – its more a note to myself than anything else.)

I’m sure you have your own views on my failings this year – feel free to present your own thoughts, or your own learning points – we can all benefit from them.

Regardless I wish you all the very best of success in your trading endeavours.

Trade well!


November 23, 2017


Join the VTP and evolve into a Versatile Trader in 2018

Hello traders,
I hope life and the markets are treating you all well.

I am setting my schedule for the VTP trading sessions for next year. As my diary gets compressed I am looking to deliver the various stages in 2 day blocks (apart from Stage 2 which is 3 Day) with follow-up online sessions. This also makes it easier for the attendees to manage their diary.

The VTP was originally set-up to help give Veterans an insight into trading financial markets using three principles that they naturally embrace:

– Discipline
– Self-Awareness

It just so happens that those very same traits are also seen in consistently successful traders. All traders can improve by embracing these traits into their trading. As the project has evolved it’s now my intention to create ‘Versatile Traders’ which I define simply as being versatile enough to know how to trade any instrument, in any direction, on any time-frame. Personally I think the days of someone just being a 5 min EURUSD trader are long gone – a good trader now needs to be able to operate where the best opportunity lies. That could be FX, Indices, Stocks, Commodities or Crypto.

So with that in mind here are the dates for the VTP Stages 1-4 for 2018. They are delivered in a small group between 8-15. If you want to join a particular stage or to know more then drop me a line.

Stage 1: Introduction to trading and financial markets – 18th & 19th January, London: LTN cost:£297
This is the ideal stand-alone introductory course to trading and financial markets. Over several sessions it provides the building blocks to be able to educate a new trader how to operate safely and effectively within financial markets. By the end of the stage the new trader will understand the 4M’s of Trading: Markets, Methods, Money & Myself. They also develop those three key traits mentioned at the beginning: Process, Discipline & Self-Awareness.
There is no requirement to take any further stages – this is a stand-alone stage that will provide anyone with the fundamental basics of successful trading.
Stage 2: An introduction to longer-term trading of FX, Indices and Commodities Markets – 22nd & 23rd March, plus Friday 18th May: LTN cost £397
Leading on from Stage 1, here we focus on longer term trading of FX, Indices and Commodity markets in-line with how I trade myself and for funds. We provide deeper insight into these markets and additional tactics to help build your own successful longer-term trading business.
Stage 3: An introduction to short-term, intra-day trading of FX & Indices markets – 19th & 20th July, London: LTN Cost: £397
As the name implies we focus on how to trade FX, European and US Indices from an intra-day basis. Sessions will be based on preparing for your day of intra-day trading of these markets and how to adapt the strategies, tactics and concepts from earlier Stages for intra-day success.
Stage 4: On Managing Myself, Trader Performance and becoming a Money Manager – 22nd & 23rd November, London : LTN Cost: £397
This stage is split into 2 sections: Half on managing self and the other half on managing money – namely other peoples. You may or may not have dreams of becoming a money-manager however acting as if you are a fund manager is never a bad thing in your own trading business. This whole stage will be focused on what you need to do to build your own trading business that will put you in the right space to be able to seek funding (if that is your wish).

In total it will equate to about 72 hours of us working together over the course of the year. As always there is a cost involved. I am fortunate that I am allowed to use a corporate clients location so that enables me to keep costs to an acceptable level.

Stage 1 has always cost £297. The other stages normally cost £447 but for today if you wish to join one of the stages the cost is £397.

In total to attend all parts of the VTP next year would cost £1488. However for the early birds that cost is reduced to £1200. There will only be 12 slots free so it’ll be on a first-come, first-served basis, veterans get priority.

I wish you every success in your trading for 2018. Trade well!


November 10, 2017


10th Nov 2017 – A follow-up to ‘McWilliams Ireland’ show. My thoughts on the rising cost of living in Ireland.

Last night in Ireland on channel TV3 there was a TV show called ‘McWilliams Ireland’ driven by the Irish media personality, and occasional economist, David McWilliams (that was my Irish mate’s joke) which is a series looking at modern Ireland through the lens of an economist and the impact it has on everyday Irish folks.

If like me you spend a lot of time in Ireland for family, business and personal reasons you’ll be acutely aware of the rampant rise in prices over the last 2 years. House prices up by 60%, hotels up between 50 & 100% etc. The fall in GBP against the EURO has only made that pain more palpable for people coming from the UK. Because I travel so much between Ireland, the UK, and Europe I believe I’ve developed a good perspective on the situation.

David’s TV series has been focusing on the rising cost of living in Ireland and he’s to be congratulated in attempting to raise people’s awareness of the situation. It’s not always easy to garner the interest of the working man and woman – they’re usually to busy working hard to make ends meet. But overall David’s articles and TV shows do a good job of trying to educate the average man and woman on the situation – and he’s to be applauded for that.

I was in the audience for last nights show and found it fascinating that people had lots of complaints about costs, and lots of reasons why…..however no-one dared touch the one area I was hoping they would discuss / cover. Namely the staggering cost of public sector pay and pension liabilities. They didn’t touch upon it there, and I’m sure as an English guy there was no chance of them answering my points about it on the show (I can just see the response I’d have gotten trying to raise points on taxes and public sector liabilities – ‘who’s that fat English prick giving out to us? The cheek of him coming on here with his notions….’ )  So let me lay out my thoughts here. Read on McDuff. As Alan Partridge so ignorantly said “There’s more to Oireland…dan dis.”

Shall we start with a chart? I love a chart, me. (I am a primarily a technical trader after all).

Nov 2017 ISEQ Monthly

So you can see that the Irish stock exchange, the ISEQ, has been powering up since late 2012. In fact it’s more than doubled since late 2012 (the small blue line). What happened in late 2012 to turn around Ireland’s fortune? Simply put – that’s when I moved to Ireland. I like to tell people that it was my copious consumption of Irish carbohydrates, in the name of: Brennan’s Bread, Apple Pie, Guinness, and Potatoes (and that was just my standard breakfast) that singlehandedly dragged Ireland out of recession.

On a more serious note you can see that the Irish economy has done a grand job the last few years – which I have written about before – I always felt it was due to the recovery of the US and UK which lifted Ireland out of its post GFC gloom rather than anything that the Irish politician’s did.  There has been an influx of US, and global, tech companies that have located in Ireland. The official story is because of the quality of life and the availability of a well-educated workforce. The brutal reality is that the Irish government offered stunning tax deals, on an already attractive corporate tax rate – which has been good for Ireland, but has infuriated US and EU tax authorities. (The French in particular are disgusted that such companies are based in backwater Ireland when they should be based, and more importantly, paying taxes, in the glorious French republic.)

So with a healthy chart of the national exchange you’d be thinking that everything is rosy and there’s nothing wrong? Sadly that’s not the case. It is just under 10 years since the GFC of 2008 – and yet in Dublin at the moment you’d be mistaken for thinking it never happened – everyone is partying like its 2007! Prices are flying and the town has a buzz.

So let’s have a look at some of the numbers: My understanding is that the population of the Republic of Ireland is approximately 4.5 million people. Of that 4.5 million approximately 1.98 million people are tax-payers ( If anyone has more up-to-date / accurate figures I will happily amend.)

My own belief about the cost of living in Ireland is due to the high taxes pushed upon the people. Furthermore those high taxes, as I think most Irish folk would agree, do not always provide world-class services and infrastructure.

Well my belief is that most of those costs and taxes come about to fund the gravy-train that is the Irish Civil Service….or Irish Swindle Service as my Irish friends like to call it!

Once again numbers of Civil-Service employees are a spectrum with numbers ranging 40,000 to 300,00 mentioned to me. (These numbers are very broad and opaque, and may or may not cover all the Quango’s as well – of which there are numerous – i heard there was around 1000! Once again please feel free to help me tighten up the numbers.)

Take a look at some of these eye-watering numbers provided by the Central Statistics Office:

Irish Public Sector pay average: E921 p.w.

Irish Private Sector pay average E658 p.w.  (that’s a -40% differential!)

UK Public Sector pay: £594 p.w..

UK Private Sector pay £517 p.w. (that’s a -15% differential)

(Office of National Statistics)

But it gets worse:

Wages in the Irish education sector exceed Eurozone average by 54%

Wages in Irish healthcare and social work sector exceed the Eurozone average by 39%

(Eurostat figures)

Unemployment Benefit in Ireland: E193 per week

Unemployment Benefit in the UK approx £90 per week (My understanding is that Germanys is roughly similar – once again happy to update the numbers if someone has them.)

Furthermore if the public sector pay was not already a shocka they also receive a lovely golden pension of 150% of final salary, plus 50% for the rest of your life. Also you generally retire much earlier (age 60) on that handsome pension as opposed to private sector workers who have to toil on to age 66 to get the state minimum.

It used to be (certainly in the UK) in the old days that you received a good public sector pension because your average wage was much less than a private sector employee’s. But times have clearly changed, when a public sector employee is now taking home 40% more than the average private sector worker. Perhaps I can now see why friends call the Irish Swindle service the gravy-train!

You also have VAT at 23%, and business rates can be even higher. Along with that you have the most expensive energy charges in Europe. (If you can get a clear answer out of the ESB regarding charges, wages, pensions et al then you’re doing well.)

So you effectively have 80-90% of the people having to toil away till they’re 66, paying high taxes, in order to pay for the high wages/lifestyle/pensions of the 10-20% working in the civil service / quangos who get to retire at 60! Does it make my Irish friends feel good to hear and understand that?

Invariably as soon as someone like myself shines the torch of economic awareness on public sector greed you’re immediately labelled as a right-wing bigot who wants to take money away from Nurses, Firemen, and Gardaí (policemen). That is the usual tactic of those who wish the status-quo to resume.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  My mother was a nurse, I have friends and cousins who are nurses, Gardaí, firemen and teachers etc. Everyone knows that front-line staff do a good job under trying circumstances. It’s not them I am describing. I am talking about the huge swathe of faceless bureaucrats who sit in all those public offices working away without any form of accountability for their work ethic and performance.

So my aim with this piece was not to be disparaging – nor to have ” a crack at the Mick” as my good Irish friend Pearse and I often joke about. (It’s a line from one of our favourite films – Withnail & I. )

More so it was to make people aware of one of the contributing factors to why the cost of living is so high and there is such a high tax burden on the average working person. I’ve seen Irish friends working hard to build a life, and I’ve seen other people taking advantage of the system.  Maybe judging by this article the people are aware of the situation and all want a scoop of that gravy: 28,500 scramble for civil-service jobs

Now some people may say that they are happy with a) the tax levels and b) the public sector salaries and pensions. And that is fair enough. Each to their own.

At the TV show I was sat on a table with two other guys and when I pointed the public-sector pay and pension liabilities out the youngest one was quick to silence me with a monologue about how people should pay high taxes because it was a price worth paying for living in Ireland. I gently chided him that as he was a student he’d never actually paid any taxes, nor did he have a mortgage to pay, or kids to raise. Perhaps he should save his opinions until such time when he’s been paying exorbitant direct and indirect taxes for at least a decade or so and see how he feels then.

So why is this in any way a problem? Well I suppose it’s not – however Brexit is looming – and this will be either a threat or an opportunity for Ireland. Whilst the official Irish government departments are crowing about how much business and staff they will take from London the real story comes from listening to the relocation businesses. The questions they’re being asked are all how about house prices, location and availability, the cost of living, and the availability of good schools.  Is there a chance that Ireland is going to price itself out of the Brexit bonanza?

So why do people put up with this? Well I learnt from living there that you should never underestimate the power of ignorance. If you’re used to paying 4 euro for a shampoo, that is a pound in the UK, then why would you ever challenge the price? Is it any wonder that UK retailers call the country ‘Treasure Ireland’ because of their ability to charge higher prices?

I myself am an example of this. I left Ireland in 2016 for family responsibilities back in the UK. I was looking to move back this year – but the upsurge in costs (amongst other things) caused me to hesitate and reflect. I find these days that Dublin is more expensive than London. I can understand why so many digital nomads have shifted to Lisbon and Berlin instead of Dublin.

So will there be a change? Will Ireland curb its rampant tax take in order to help the average working guy and girl? Of course not!  The people who benefit most from the enhanced public sector pay and condition (namely the politicians) are never going to vote down giving themselves a pay cut! How absurd would that be? This comical skit from the show summed it all up beautifully in 70 seconds.

The Irish politicians already showed their true colours when the EU took Apple to court for not paying enough tax to Ireland – the Irish politicians response was to take Apple’s side(ostensibly turning down the 13bn tax for their own people) and in doing so found themselves sued by the EU for not complying.

Furthermore the French and Germans are keen to push through the EU the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) in an effort to level the playing field and remove Ireland’s tax advantage.  (As an aside if I was Theresa May I’d be on the phone to all those US tech companies saying – you can sidestep the incoming CCCTB by moving here – lets just organise a flat fee of 10% and take it from there. Hey, for the UK it’s better to have 10% of something rather than 100% of nothing!)

Anyway this is turning into another one of Paul’s old-man rants! Apologies for the sprawling treatise – but I do get annoyed when I see people getting screwed over! So we’ll draw it to a close here by saying that yes David’s show was a step towards educating folks (but didn’t go far enough about one of the main contributors to prices – as this reviewer also agreed) and that people’s ignorance of the situation regarding public sector pay and pension liabilities needs to be changed. That’s the only way change will happen – by people realising the truth of the situation and then voting accordingly (though what the alternatives are is another quagmire, best left for another day.)

I know I have quite a few Irish readers of this blog so I’d love to hear your own views on the situation. Do you agree with me? Or are you happy with the present situation? How would you change it?

Have a great weekend, and trade well!


——-UPDATE———— 20/11/2017

Last week I did a piece on Core TV about this blog post – you can watch it here: Core TV Ireland

On the same day the Irish Times ran a piece on how Dublin was graded 2nd worst European City to emigrate to in a recent survey by Expat City Rankings (the worst European City, if you’re interested, is Paris.) You can read that here: Irish Times

Furthermore I picked up on this piece this morning in the Irish Journal about how Dublin was an attractive option for Tech Job-seekers….but most recruiters had to play down the cost of living as that caused problems.


November 9, 2017


Confidence in execution: humility in the debrief. Syed article in the Times

Syed Times Post


Hello Traders,

It’s been a funny old year hasn’t it? I just looked back on my diary for the year. Normally I do no travelling during the months of August and October – I give them over to summer break/harvesting for the former, and trading for the latter. However this year, for the first time, I spent both of those months travelling for work/clients/opportunity. Can I read anything into that? Is that a sign of something to come? Who knows, time will tell. However it does give some insight into my lack of posts in the last 3 months.

Anyway back to todays theme – I was fortunate to read a fascinating article in the Times last week by the wonderful Matthew Syed: Why Johnny Wilkinson realised his potential and Danny Cipriani didn’t.

Matthew is a wonderful writer and manages to focus on some fascinating aspects of human behaviour, through the lens of sporting competition. However many of those lessons are applicable to all avenues of life, including trading. I heartily recommend you read his column.

So does greatness come from arrogance or humility? That is the question posed in his piece. He then begins to provide a fascinating series of insights and anecdtoes based on professional sportsmen, their own success and failures and whether they were attributed to confidence or humility. What we discover, quite rightly, is that there is a time and a place for both in the performance cycle.

What we learn is that confidence is required when looking to execute our plans – to have the self-belief to deliver in key moments. However what is also required is humility in the post event review to address our mistakes and weakness.

That confidence comes from preparation – being dedicated to putting in the hard work, the deliberate practice before the game / mission / trading session.

The humility is saved for the post event review/ debrief where we should be open to addressing our strengths and weaknesses, and looking at how to develop in the future. In high-performance environments there is a culture of debriefing to improve performance – however in many normal day-to-day experiences/roles/organisations there is not, for several reasons.

The ‘performance cycle’ can have many definitions. My simple definition has always been Plan. Execute. Review. (Also the first three letter of the word performance should you forget.) Actually one of the key skills is having the self-awareness and mental dexterity to be able to know what part of the performance cycle you’re in. Whilst you think this would be easy to recognise Syed provides many examples of individuals who brought the wrong attitude to the wrong part of the cycle. Something I can confirm from my own experiences.

I have met, seen and experienced many fighter pilots, fighter controllers, sportsmen, salespeople, traders, entrepreneurs who were lazy in preparation, humbled in execution and arrogant in the debrief!

In the old days of the fighter-pilot business it used to be first one back to the bar, and the one with the loudest/most assertive voice would win the debrief, regardless of what may have happened in the exercise/operation. This did not always give the best insight into a team or individuals strength, weakness and performance!

I have seen with my own eyes where it actually dissolved into fisticuffs round the back of the building post-debrief. (I once heard a Tornado F3 pilot getting stoved-in by a couple of his mud-moving brethren for being a talentless arrogant prick. I had to agree with their assessment of his character. What I learned was that very often such individuals are so thick-headed, and so lacking in self-awareness, that they only way to get the message through to them is with a good portion of knuckle sandwich.)

Thankfully technology has developed to such a level that nowadays Air Forces are able to accurately replay a mission and derive the truth, and the training value. There is no hiding place. This can be humbling in the debrief when see that your actions may have contributed to failure of the mission, or the death of colleagues. I can talk from personal experience that it is a sobering event, and drives a period of self-reflection. And it’s how you respond to that which will determine your success or failure in the future.

When I worked in the City it used to drive me up the wall that the companies I worked for would never conduct any kind of review/debrief process after any project, promotion or loss of client etc. People always said they were too busy for a debrief and that business moved too fast to make a point of debriefing. It’s where I truly got to understand the saying “success has a thousand fathers, failure is an orphan” as individuals tried to steal credit and then ignore mistakes. And then they would wonder why the organisation would keep wasting time and resources making the same mistakes again and again! Grrrrrrrrr!

I have had the pleasure to work with traders who have demonstrated impeccable knowledge and respect for the performance cycle. It’s a joy to behold. Sadly I have also seen many who happily ignore it and just focus on executing their trading system- and then wonder why they struggle!

So what comes through from exposure to great performers and their ability to consistently deliver is this:

Dedication in preparation. Self-assurance in execution. Humility in the debrief.

That is the great message to take away for traders. Ask yourself: are you like that in your own trading?

Syed finishes with the idea that it is having the mental dexterity to switch between the phases of the performance cycle which may be the key to unlocking those sports peoples greatness. I think there is definitely something we can all learn from that.



November 5, 2017


October Monthly Candles Part 3: Indices & Commodities (video)

Hey Traders,

Here’s part 3 of the monthly candles – focusing on Indices and Commodities

Apologies for the sound once again

Trade well



November 4, 2017


October Monthly Candles Part 2: USD, JPY, AUD, NZD, CAD FX pairs (video)

Hey Traders,

Here’s the 2 second of the videos focusing on the Monthly Candles.

Apologies for the sound quality.

Trade well,


November 4, 2017


The October Monthly Candles: Part 1 (video)

Hey Traders,

Here’s part 1 of the October Monthly Candles – focusing on the GBP & EUR FX Pairs.

Apologies for the sound quality.


September 19, 2017


Pride comes before a fall….

Hello traders,

I wanted to draw your attention to this rather surreal interview on Bloomberg last week. Former celeb fund manager Hugh Hendry was on there talking about him closing down his Eclectica fund after 15 years. Having made a fortune, and a name for himself shorting banks during the GFC he’s found the going since then rather tougher.  His fund was at one time approx. $1.3bn AUM, but he’s managed to whittle that down to his last $30 million. That will no longer allow him to cover his fees and other commitments so he’s shutting up shop and handing the pennies back (whilst presumably keeping his fees.)

The clip below is a shortened version of the full interview, but personally I think it’s TV gold. It gives us some great insight into how hubris can get us into trouble. How believing your own bullshit leads you down the path of eventual ruin. How easily it is for us to become euphoric and over-confident after a period of success. And why demonstrating humility, and good grace for your successes, is always the right path.


A few points that annoyed me about this….

  1. “I died in active combat…”  No you didn’t chumpy. You f**ked up, quite spectacularly, that’s what you did.  As a Veteran I take umbrage at this. Watching numbers on a screen, is not active combat, its nothing like it at all. It’s disrespectful to use such words, and shows me how out of touch you’d become.
  2. “The markets are wrong!”  No buddy, they are not. They maybe irrational, they maybe totally outside of your comprehension, but they’re never wrong. To think that your view and bias of the markets is the correct one is the kind of page 1 mistake I expect from a complete beginner, not from a seasoned professional. Another example of believing your own bullshit. The map is not the territory. As Keynes said “The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent.” That’s a perfect quote for what happened here.
  3. “If I succeeded at anything, I succeeded at being idle.”  Listen up Hugh, perhaps if you’d put a shift in, then maybe you wouldn’t be sat on huge losses and having to close your fund. I know that success is a personal thing, however if I was one of the investors in Hendry’s fund I’d be livid at that comment. I’d be getting ready to sue him for professional negligence! Anyway after this debacle Hugh is, I suspect, going to be spending a lot more time being ‘successful’ at home on his own.
  4. Absolutely no contrition – for a man who has just spunked $1 billion up the wall you’d think he’d be somewhat contrite or at least humble?  I saw no evidence of this – filled with his own hubris he blamed North Korea, Trump, Governments, Central banks etc for his woes. Not once did I catch any real admission of guilt. There was to be no mea culpa.

I felt not one ounce of sympathy for the man after watching that. I wondered why he’d go on TV and be like that? Maybe he’d become accustomed, or even addicted, to the celeb status he’d acquired? To the attention of fawning finance sycophants around him?  Who knows – but he’s going to have a lot of time to reflect upon that from now on.

One of the reasons I started trading and investing for myself was for characters like Hugh. In an earlier role and life I used to spend time with fund-managers, and analysts, and was so often left underwhelmed by the experience. Lots of plummy talk, lots of fake bonhomie, lots of grandiose ideas, and bragging. All to cover up for having very little talent.  As the Americans would say, all hat and no cattle.

I remember thinking to myself “If you can’t join them, beat them.” And so it became not about beating the market (a term I’ve never liked) – but about beating the cheesy, talentless players who filled up lots of fund-management roles back then. In many ways it was the worst decision I’ve ever made. In many ways it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

So what can we take away?

  1. You’re only as good as your last trade/month/quarter – never get complacent thinking you’re the bees knees.
  2. Stay learning – the moment you think you know it all is the moment you’re about to get smacked in the face. Stay humble, and stay addicted to learning. Stay curious about markets.
  3. Your biggest drawdown is the one you’re yet to have – having that sort of mindset will help you focus on risk management and minding your business.
  4. Have a good network around you that keep you grounded and level-headed. It’s easy to surround yourself with people who share the same view as you (this could be about every element of life: trading, relationships, politics, whatever) but this is fatal. Make sure you have friends from all side of the spectrum. Engage in good constructive debate about your ideas with these people. Enjoy it, learn from it, hone your ideas and sharpen your edge upon them.
  5. Youre only human – during the time of the Roman Empire whenever a general or leader won a great victory or had a great prize bestowed upon them they would have a lowly servant ride in the chariot with them at the victory parade. The servants job was to whisper in their ear “you’re not a god, you’re merely a mortal human-being.” This was to remind them of the vanity of honours and for them to be vigilant about their behaviour lest it destroy themselves. It’s pretty clear Hugh never had that slave in his chariot. Who’s the slave in your chariot?
  6. When a major bear is routed and throws in the towel to join the bulls….is that the sign of a top? Discuss.

Anyway, rant over – I hope you can take some learnings from my words. By all means let me know what you think – perhaps you disagree? That’s ok, I’m happy to hear that – (see point 4 above!)

I’m going to be touching upon Hugh, and markets in my presentation at the London Traders Forum this coming Saturday in London. Come along if you want to hear more of my rants!

Trade well,


September 15, 2017


Developing Trader Performance: On Managing Self and Money

Fellow Traders,
This October and November I shall be running a stage of The VTP that focuses on Managing Self and becoming a Money Manager.

It’ll will be split into 2 sections namely:  The first half on managing self. How do you manage and enhance your own trading performance? What kind of network and support structure do you need to create around you? How do you deal with those inevitable slumps?

The second half is on managing money – namely other peoples. The truth is that most independent traders are under-capitalised, and they need to find ways to increase their Trading Capital. You may or may not have dreams of becoming a money-manager. However remember we reach for our goals but we settle for our standards. Acting as if you are a fund manager is never a bad thing in your own trading business because it holds you to that higher standard in your own behaviour.


This whole stage will be focused on what you need to do to build your own trading business that will put you in the right credible space to seek funding (if that is your wish).

It will consist of working together for 4-6 sessions over 2-3 months
– 4 x half day sessions (probably over 2-3 days)
– 2 x online sessions
For a total of 19-20 hours working together

So as always there’s a cost: Because I am allowed to use a corporate clients office it means that I can keep costs low and accessible for Independent Traders. For members of the London Traders Network the cost will be £397. This is a great reward:risk trade as what you’ll learn, and the pitfalls you’ll avoid, will save you the fee many times over.

There are plenty of training courses out there that focus on trading strategies. For most people its not more strategies they require – but an understanding of how to manage themselves and their business.   There’s few, if any, that focus on supporting Independent Traders to manage their performance and transition towards fund management.

I’ll only run this once a year and there is an opportunity for you to join us. We only operate in small groups as it allows the traders to share their experience. So if you’d like to learn more about how to manage your trading performance and learn about what it takes to become a money manager then get in touch by replying here or mailing me: paul@FXTraderPaul.com . As always the slots go on a first-come first-served basis.
Trade well,


September 5, 2017


September 2017 Monthly Candles Part 3: Indices (Video)

Here’s part 3 of my monthly analysis – focusing on Indices and Commodities.

Enjoy and trade well,