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Traders reveal their biggest wins and worst mistakes

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We spoke to three top eToro traders and discovered that one bad decision can set you back millions.

eToro AUS Capital Limited AFSL 491139. eToro is a multi-asset investment platform. The value of your investments may go up or down. Your capital is at risk. See PDS and TMD.

Disclaimer: General information only. All forms of investments (in particular, trading CFDs, commodities & forex) carry significant risk, including the risk of losing more than the invested amounts, market volatility & liquidity risks. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Such activities are not suitable for most investors. Seek independent advice and consider the PDS and TMD on the provider's website before making any trades.

If you've ever thought about becoming a trader, you're probably wondering what they spend most of their time doing and how much you can realistically expect to make from it.

You might be surprised at what we learned from three traders based in Australia, who shared their most profitable and costly trades, including one decision that almost wiped $1 million from the table.

Davide Marcotti, Dylan Weston and Hao Ning Ng are all top traders known as "popular investors" on the share trading platform eToro. This means their trade decisions can be tracked or even copied by other followers who are users on the app.

Although still pretty new in Australia, the concept is well-established in overseas markets such as Europe. Some of the most popular traders on the app have as many as 10,000 followers copying their trade actions, which can include stock or crypto trades on any given day.

While peddling trades for (hopefully) large sums of money might sound like a pretty fun job, there are plenty of risks to navigate, as we found out from Davide, Hao and Dylan. We asked them how much time they spend trading, what they make and what some of their toughest lessons have been during their trading journeys. Check out what they said below.

dafne17Picture not describedPicture not described
2,000 followers, 65 copiers155 followers, 75 copiers6,122 followers, 665 copiers

Q: How did your trading journey start?

Picture not describedDafne17: Started 12 years ago when I was 18 as my father was also into stocks and bonds. I decided to do it by myself and failed. Then kept trying until I found my successful strategy.

Picture not describedDylanWeston: I started my trading journey by reading books on both fundamental and technical analysis. It has been eight years since I started and three years since becoming full time.

Picture not describedHaoNing: In January 2018. I was still yet to finish my pharmacy course at university back then. I started investing mainly on the notion that investing is meant to be started as early as possible in order to reap the most return from compounding interest over time. Also having realised that bank interest is way below the annual inflation rate, investing in assets with a return above inflation at the very least just seemed like a no-brainer to me.

Q: What's your preferred asset?

Picture not describedDafne17: Tough one... I'd say stocks followed by crypto and then ETFs on commodities. No forex for me as it involves using leverage.

Picture not describedDylanWeston: Stocks and crypto. I like these assets as I have found it much easier to identify the trends. Whereas, with forex, I find there is a lot of chop and it's difficult to profit from.

Picture not describedHaoNing: I am solely investing in stocks at the moment. I have never traded forex, crypto or commodities thus far, and I have no plan to start trading them anytime soon.

Q: How many hours do you spend trading in a day?

Picture not describedDafne17: I spend around eight hours a day doing research/studying the markets. The actual submission of trading orders takes five minutes.

Picture not describedDylanWeston: I monitor the markets about one hour each morning and then spend another hour searching for new opportunities. The rest of the day I spend on knowledge to improve my trading.

Picture not describedHaoNing: As a full-time pharmacist, I spend most of my day in the pharmacy, serving the community as a primary health care professional. When I get off work, that's when I have the time to read and write about the latest news in the stock market and also trading. I would say I spend about two to three hours a day during most of the week...and I try to give myself a break during the weekend.

Q: What's your main trading strategy?

Picture not describedDafne17: I don't use leverage (anymore) and I am a long-term investor. I sometimes keep stocks and assets for a year or longer. I am not interested in the 1 or 2% gains. When I jump into an asset, it's because I think I can at least get 50% or more in a decent time horizon.

Picture not describedDylanWeston: My trading strategy is 80% technical analysis and 20% fundamental. My technical analysis system helps me follow trends over the longer term. I focus on innovation and technology as these companies have the ability to grow extremely fast.

Picture not describedHaoNing: My rule of thumb is to invest a consistent, small portion of my monthly savings every month into one to two stocks I deem to be fairly valued... I only pick stocks that I could see myself holding for the next 10 years as long as there are no major events.

I spend most of my time planning when to buy a stock, which is usually when there is a market correction or major sell-off. Because of that, I do not trade very often. With only 1 to 2 trades per month, my portfolio's monthly return had beaten S&P500's monthly return in 9 out of the past 12 months.

Q: How much money do you make trading?

Picture not describedDafne17: This past month alone, my portfolio has grown 30% in value. Considering that I trade with almost $100K, you can imagine it is a considerable sum of money. I have only had 3 negative months thus far in 2020 and my overall portfolio is up 75% year to date.

Picture not describedDylanWeston: I make a full-time income trading over the course of a year. The hard thing with trading is each month can be different. Some months up and some months down.

Picture not describedHaoNing: I last sold and bought stocks back in March this year when COVID-19 first hit... Because of that, 15 out of the 17 stock holdings in my portfolio are currently at profit as of the date of writing, thanks to the swift recovery in the stock market throughout the second half of the year. The biggest holding in my portfolio at the moment is Shopify, which has recorded close to a 200% gain so far.

Q: What's the most you've made in a single trade?

Picture not describedDafne17: I bought BTC (Bitcoin) when it was trading at $6k, and bought Amazon when it was trading around $2,000. As I said, I have been blessed with a rough $25K profit this month. Shout out to the FED.

Picture not describedHaoNing: When COVID-19 first hit in March, I made some trades to reorganise my portfolio in anticipation of more disruption in the stock market and the global economy in general. The most I've made in a single trade at the time was a 262.68% gain when I sold Tesla after holding it for 10 months, solely on the notion that the company was too overvalued judging by its earnings at the time.

Q: What's the most you've lost in a single trade?

Picture not describedDafne17: I bought XRP (a cryptocurrency) when it was trading at $2 around December 2017. I think I lost around 5k in a single trade.

Picture not describedDylanWeston: Back in March of 2016, my system gave me a signal to go long on Bitcoin. At one stage of the trade, I was up over a million dollars. Long story short, it ended in disaster. I couldn't control my emotions and exit the trade. I walked away with barely any profit. The market humbled me to trade safely and to at all times follow a proper trading system.

Picture not describedHaoNing: My biggest loss in a single trade was when I had to sell Uber stocks at a 31.76% loss in anticipation of reduced travel and transportation need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Q: What's your biggest trading regret?

Picture not describedDafne17: Who doesn't have regrets...My biggest would be NIO and TESLA. I thought they were inflated and overpriced because of the young Robinhood investors. It's ok though, you can't always be right and it is better to be safe than sorry sometimes.

Picture not describedDylanWeston: My biggest regret was not building a solid exit strategy earlier. I have found it's much easier to buy an asset than knowing when to get out. If I had focussed more on the end game, I would have been able to walk away from the Bitcoin trade in the green. Today, I treat it as a very expensive lesson!

Picture not describedHaoNing: Selling my stocks in March when COVID-19 hit. For example, if I had held on to Tesla and Uber, I would have had a much bigger gain today... Humans are emotional beings, and it is hard not to be influenced by your emotions in the stock market. This is exactly why I strongly believe in the "buy and hold" approach, which has been proven historically to generate a return [that's] just as good as an active trading approach, if not better.

Q: What's your tip for people just getting started?

Picture not describedDafne17: Don't use leverage and remember that time in the market beats timing the market. Invest in solid companies you think have a great future ahead and be willing to be patient. Investing is a marathon and not a sprint.

Picture not describedDylanWeston: My biggest tip for getting started is to go slow and focus on knowledge. It is the knowledge that will give you the ability to profit from the markets. I think a good analogy is brain surgery. Before operating on someone’s brain, you need to have the knowledge before being able to practice.

Picture not describedHaoNing: Try to be patient and invest smartly... No matter what happens in the next few months, sit tight and stick to your strategy instead of buying stocks you do not understand amid a storm of hype. Try not to worry about comparing your performance with others. Stock investing is a long game. We might lag or outperform others in the short term, but it is the long term that matters.

Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of futures, stocks, ETFs, CFDs, options or any specific provider, service or offering. It should not be relied upon as investment advice or construed as providing recommendations of any kind. Futures, stocks, ETFs and options trading involves substantial risk of loss and therefore are not appropriate for all investors. Trading CFDs and forex on leverage comes with a higher risk of losing money rapidly. Past performance is not an indication of future results. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before making any trades. Read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Target Market Determination (TMD) for the product on the provider's website.

How to copy trade

Copy trading is offered by a few forex brokers now but largely popularised by eToro globally.

Essentially, when you copy a "popular investor", you mimic their trade actions. So if you choose to copy a long-term investor, your portfolio will be updated infrequently. Alternatively, you can copy an active trader trying to beat the market.

Although you're copying another person's trades, you get to assign how much you're willing to invest in them so you shouldn't ever trade above that set limit.

eToro also offers CopyPortfolios, where you invest in a whole portfolio of stocks that follow a certain theme. For example, if you invest in the Cannabis Care portfolio, you're investing in a dozen or so top cannabis stocks selected by eToro.

To find out more about eToro, you can check out our review.

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eToro disclaimer: eToro AUS Capital Limited AFSL 491139. eToro is a multi-asset investment platform. The value of your investments may go up or down. Your capital is at risk. eToro AUS Capital Limited ACN 612 791 803 AFSL 491139. Smart Portfolios are not exchange-traded funds or hedge funds and are not tailored to your specific objectives, financial situations and needs. Your capital is at risk. See PDS and TMD.

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