80-90% Of Traders Fail, But Here Is Some Useful Insight

Guest Post

You all too often hear that 80-90% of those who try to make it as traders fail.

There is no question that it is a very tough profession and for some perhaps not a good fit.

I wonder about this statistic though.  Many professional traders failed their way to success. They failed forward as it’s said.

After all, so much of trading is learning to take losses and building the emotional capacity to trade your plan without deviation.

Perhaps the statistic changes to being slightly more favourable each time a trader gets back in the ring for another round.

Admittedly it takes a particular kind of resilience to do this.

One thing is certain finding good training and mentoring can help you to short cut some of the steep learning curve. It’s very important to find someone you trust and who’s approach gels with you.

You also have to be open to the possibility that you can be a successful trader.  If you aren’t, you have pretty much guaranteed you aren’t going to achieve what you want.


Breaking the four-minute-mile used to be considered scientifically impossible. Then Roger Banister broke the barrier in 1954.  His achievement opened up the possibility that it was possible to others.  Over the next few years many more people broke the barrier.

It took one man to show that it was possible.  That was all that was needed to allow others athletes to make the mental shift and open to the possibility they could do it too.

Read the Market Wizards books (listen to Michael’s Jack Schwager Hedge Fund Market Wizards Video Interview) and read around this site for countless other examples of those who have achieved what you want.  Ask yourself are you open to the possibility that you can do it too?

Be sure that you aren’t getting in your own way of being a trader.  You may need to open up the possibility that you really can.

What do you think about the statistic?  Does the failure rate decrease the more someone perseveres?  Let me know what you think in the comments.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • michael tatman

    I agree with this post.  I think in order to be part of the 10% winner club, you first have to start out in the 90% loser club.  If you can withstand the learning curve of the latter long enough, the odds are good that you be part of the former.

  • I agree…the best tuition in trading is a loss, not wins. You will be in the top ten percent if you can understand that and keep your losses small and let your winners ride. Just like any successful job it takes an enourmous amount of effort to be the best. Trading is not a get rich quick profession. You have to learn the art of trading like how a doctor learns to operate. Not every doctor will be super  successful without practice and hard work either.

  • If a wedding sets the tone for the entire marriage, then the first trade that a trader makes sets the tone for the entire trading. I am glad that my first trade was a winner and kept going to the six figures in 4 months. It bought me my new home. Then after 25 years of trading I lost it all over one weekend. Should I mention WAMU? Now I start all over again and it’s very hard to have a successful first trade. A few months ago I took $1500 and turned it into $5k in just 3 weeks, and then let it all go to nothing over the last three months. So I start again with just $2500, made my option bet on crude for March 2013 put that expires in Feb. My TA with Wolfe and Gann say I am right with the trade, but can my emotions handle it? I am currently down $600 in the first week of trading on just $2500. It don’t look good, but I have some time on my side for now.

  • martinkronicle

    Did you have all your money in WAMU?