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The other day I was having a conversation with a guy in the futures brokerage business. We were talking about trading education and got into a discussion on how much money people have spent on trading classes, course, coaching, and whatnot, and whether trading courses were worth it? 

He was remarking on a gentleman he knows who spent $15,000 on a weeks’ worth of personal coaching, and that was just one example.

Now I’ve been around the trading game long enough to have heard stories like that before. Even still, it blows my mind to hear that someone was willing to lay out that kind of money. I know why they do it. They think they will learn the thing which will make them masters of the market.

So, are trading courses worth it?

The sad thing is that most of the time the money is wasted. What’s even worse is that sometimes the new found trading knowledge ends up costing the trader money in the markets on top of the hit they already took to their bank account.

Now I’m not trying to say that all trading and investing educations and support products and services are a waste of time and/or money. Everyone has to learn somewhere. Ideally we have someone who can mentor us, but mentors can be quite hard to come by, so we have to make due with what’s available.

What I am saying is that too much money is spent on trading and investing products and services in an ill-advised fashion.

The financial markets can be complex. They offer a wide array of arenas and instruments one can trade. There are all kinds of methods and techniques for identifying good trades and making money management decisions. There are scores of products and services intended to teach you how to play the market and/or help you do so. While there certainly are some of dubious character operating in this field, as in any business, the vast majority of the people providing such offerings are honourable folks with the best of intentions. I know this from experience.

How to avoid wasting your money

Here’s where people go wrong plunking down their hard-earned money, though. They don’t properly position themselves before venturing in to the realm of trading education and support products.

By this I mean a lot of money is thrown away by folks who sign-up for this seminar or that course without even considering first whether that particular seminar or course is right for them. There is a tendency among folks just getting in to the markets to try to go from zero to super performer in one leap. As anyone who’s spent any time at all in the market can tell you, that just doesn’t happen.

The mistake being made isn’t that these market rookies attend a seminar or take a class. The error is in not first taking a very hard look at themselves and their situation before deciding on a direction to take.

When I wrote my book, The Essentials of Trading, my first intention was to teach people how to get up and running in trading  to teach them the most basic of elements. It was something I had been doing with college students. That’s just the start of things, though. Learning to trade is more than just learning to enter and exit positions.

The bulk of the book has to do, however, with getting the reader – presumably a novice – to take a very hard look at who they are, how they best operate, their time availability, and the resources they have at their disposal. I did that because any given individual’s success in the markets is primarily dictated by their ability to find something that works for them.

When I talk with new investors and traders, that idea of finding your own course is something I really try to hammer home. It is very hard to make money with someone else’s system or method. Why? Because it was designed or created by someone else for their purposes, not for yours.

Can you make another persons trading method work for you? Yes, but only if you understand first what you need to do to be successful. That means doing a personal assessment, such as the one readers of my book are taken through, to lay the groundwork. It’s about figuring out what market to trade, what instruments to use, the market analysis method used as the basis for trade decision-making, and the time frame to operate in, among other things. Once that’s done, you can confidently navigate the myriad of products and services available out there, selecting only those that fit in with the what and how you’ve decided to take as your approach to trading or investing.

Books are a good, cheap start

Keep one thing in mind, though. Books are generally going to be the least expensive educational tools. Make use of them before considering spending significantly more money on courses, seminars, etc. They will help you learn about markets and methods so you can get yourself properly oriented before delving into the more specific elements of the system or technique you’ll use to trade.

The primary lesson is that you should not go the seminar, course, and advisory as your method of figuring out your approach to the market. That’s how large amounts of money get wasted. If you figure out your approach first, then look for the educational and/or support products and services to support that, you can save yourself loads of money and regrets on time and cash wasted.

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