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Trading Success Rate and Comparison with Other Professions

by TradingDrills Academy

Professional trading is a career that many people are interested in, but do not have the tools and training to crack into. We often have discussions with aspiring traders about the chance of success and sustained profitability in the financial markets.  Many people are curious about trading success rates, and if it's worth investing the time and energy to learn how to trade. Lots of people do not have a realistic understanding of the facts of what it really takes to become a day or swing trader. Some people think it should be easy to enter into the market and get rich quickly as a trader, especially if they can find a profitable trading system where others have had success. However, others believe it is not possible to make money as a day trader, and the financial markets are rigged. In this short video, we would like to provide you an overview of trading success rates and how the probability of being a successful trader stands in comparison to other high-paid top performers, like professional athletes in the NFL.  

Interesting Trading Success Facts: 

  • Successful traders and non-profitable traders have been surveyed on their time spent trading and how many methods they have tried, and the results are below. This information is from a survey conducted by Peter Davies, from Jigsaw trading which was presented in 2018. 
  • The majority of traders spent a long period of time trading, ranging from 5 to 10 years
  • Many traders have changed their trading systems and methods between 2 to 10 times
  • About 77% of these traders are unaware of their performance because they never bother to measure it
  • More than 80 percent of these aspiring traders are still not profitable trading in the market, with a trading success rate of 18% 
  • This study shows the importance of creating a trading system which involves tracking your performance. Keeping a daily journal to track your trades is vital to learn from your mistakes to improve your odds of making money in the financial markets. 

Interesting Trading Statistics

Trading Success Rate

Rates of Trading Success Compared to Becoming a Professional Athlete: 

Professional traders need to have dedication, patience, and discipline, to have consistent profits in the financial markets. Trading isn't easy, and new traders must overcome the psychological elements of entering the financial markets, which we discuss in further detail in Human Psychology Conflicts. The success rates below are averages from a study conducted by Vantage Point Trading.

success in trading compare to other fields
  • The majority of traders enter into what they think is a easily profitable trading market, dreaming to get rich fast 
  • About 40% of traders lose money during their first month
  • About 80% quit trading during the first 2 years 
  • In the long term, only about 5% of all traders remain consistently profitable. These are traders who put in significant time, energy, and effort into trading full-time. These profitable traders dedicate themselves to learning the craft, and make consistent profit for many years
  • With the guidance of a good coach or mentor, the day trading success rate can be an average of 9%. This of course, depends on the coach, and the attitude and effort of the trader. Some coaches may offer no extra benefit in trading success rates, while others can increase your rate to over 20%.
  • In this study, women have a track record of having a higher success rate of about 40%. This can be for several reasons, such as the fact that women typically learn quickly from their mistakes, listen carefully to feedback to correct their execution, and don't have egos. Of course, these generalizations can apply to both genders.

Since about 5% of traders are able to reach a professional level, this suggests that although there is a very steep learning curve, successful traders do exist- they just need the right training, resources, and mindset to be consistent

Rates of Trading Success Compared to Becoming a Professional Athlete: 

We know that the odds of reaching the professional level in any elite performance field, whether it be the NBA, NFL, or Olympic sports are much less than about 5%! The trading success rate of aspiring long-term profitable traders is higher than that of becoming a professional athlete, which is shown by the NCAA

The Odds of Becoming a Professional Athlete:

  • Basketball High school seniors drafted by NBA: 0.03% 
  • Football High school seniors drafted by NFL : 0.09% 
  • Baseball High school seniors drafted by MLB : 0.5% 
  • Ice Hockey High school seniors drafted by NHL: 0.4% 
  • Soccer High school seniors drafted by MLS: 0.08%
Percentage of Profitable Traders

What Turns Aspiring Learners to Elite Professionals?

This question attracted performance coaches and researchers to study the Science of Expertise. They studied top performers and traders for decades to understand:

  • Who are these people?
  • What knowledge and experience do they have?
  • What trading system do they use?
  • What are their success secrets? 

The Science of Expertise lead to the discovery of the “Cycle of Excellence!”

The studies conducted on the Science of Expertise helped distinguish a common pattern amongst top achievers, and lead to the discovery of the Cycle of Excellence. In the past two decades, the Cycle of Excellence has had a significant impact on many fields to accelerate the development of professional experts, including traders. We will explain this, along with its relation to practice drills, more in detail later.

For now, here is the summary of the surprising research outcomes:

  • Top performers are not born but made
  • Spending time alone on a subject is not enough for mastery
  • Top performers engage in Deliberate Practice
Three Principles of Success in Trading

How do Amateurs Turn into Professional Traders? 

Three Secrets to Success in Trading

How do amateurs and professionals spend their time which results in different outcomes? These are important questions which we will address in detail in “How Professional Traders Spend their Time and Talents", in the next blog post. 

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