Today on Trend Following Radio Michael Covel interviews Robert Carver. Robert is author of “Systematic Trading: A unique new method for designing trading and investing systems.” He got his start in finance working at AHL. Robert started with AHL in 2001 during his final year of college. It was at this time that he was introduced to quantitative trading and began thinking of finance in a systematic way. He later went back to AHL, working there from 2006-2013.
Robert doesn’t tout systematic trading as the only way to trade. He says there are some great traders out there that aren’t systematic traders. However, the majority of people need a system to be successful. So how does Robert define a system? He says a system must be objective, repeatable, and transferable. If you can’t get the same results using a different person then it is not a true system. The rules must be transferable from one person to another and the results must be objective and repeatable. Most do not have a good understanding of statistics, and they get confused in thinking that the more complicated a system is, the better it must be.
Robert and Michael move on to discuss behavioral finance, prospect theory and the difference between trend following and high frequency trading. A high frequency trading system is harder for traders to meddle with than trend following systems. The trading time frames are much shorter in high frequency trading which lessens the opportunity for human intervention. Most traders fail because of their own meddling. If you can avoid the temptation to change your system then you will be more profitable in the long run.
Working for a company like AHL would have been interesting to see from the inside during 2008. Michael asks, “What were you seeing from the ground in 2008? How did that change you and how you viewed systems?” Robert says it showed him that people truly don’t know what is happening or going to happen. Systematic traders, including himself, were able to make money because their systems saved them. When their systems saw markets going down, stops helped them exit trades and even go short in some cases. This is where all the money was made. Robert does say there are rare times you should intervene with your trading system. For example, he was forced to modify one of his systems when he found out there was going to be a coup in Thailand and the currency was going to be suspended. It’s not that he thought he could forecast what the price was going to do better than the system, but he did know trading that market was going to be impossible. Robert says there has been maybe three other times when he has had to intervene with his system. They are rare and extreme circumstances.
In this episode of Trend Following Radio:
- Unpredictable risk vs. Predictable risk
- Systematic trading
- High frequency trading vs. Trend following trading
- Black swans
- When to intervene with your system
- 2008 crash
“People rarely evaluate themselves critically and properly work out how well they have done in their discretionary trading activity, and look at statistics properly to examine whether they are genuinely doing much better than a system. I think a lot of people out there are fooling themselves.” – Robert Carver
“The more complicated the notion of what your predicable risk is, the less and less you think about the un-predictable risk.” – Robert Carver
Mentions & Resources:
- Robert Carver
- “Systematic Trading: A unique new method for designing trading and investing systems”
- Daniel Kahneman
- Nassim Taleb
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