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Seeing the Light when Trend Following

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Dear Mr. Covel,

My name is [Name]. I’ve been wanting to write to you to express my gratitude for what you do, so here it goes.

A little background on me so you know where I’m coming from. I live in [Name] and I’m a 27-year veteran officer of the [Name] Police Department.

Like most people I know, for the majority of my life I’ve been financially illiterate in regard to anything related to the stock market. I always found financial matters boring, therefore I paid little attention to them.

My interest perked up a bit while I was in the police academy. We had a one hour class one day with an instructor who discussed participation in the department’s 457B plan. Charts were passed out which graphed how much money we could expect at retirement when projecting an annual amount contributed combined with how many years in service times an average expected annual yield. When I looked in the lower right corner of that graph and saw that a long career with a maximum payroll deduction could exceed a million dollars, that was for me! I signed up immediately and have been maxed out in my 457B plan for most of the time since that eye-opening day.

My financial literacy at that point in my life was this: just pump money into my retirement plan, then when I retire I’ll be set. Maybe I’ll even be a millionaire. I still hadn’t fully recognized then how my retirement plan hinged on stock market performance.

Fast forward to about seven years ago and the purchase of my first iPhone. With my new-found interest in Apple I read a news article which related how Apple’s stock price had, over the course of a few years, increased over 30,000%. That was simply staggering to me. If I owned $5,000 worth of Apple stock at its lows I wouldn’t have to wait until I was retired to be a millionaire. With that revelation, my interest then turned to the stock market.

I had long since established a practice of determining, pursuing and achieving goals throughout my life, so I confidently embarked on a goal of becoming a successful trader/investor. With knowledge gained through my studies, it was only then that I began to grasp the mechanics of my retirement plan. Understanding for the first time then how my savings had been cut in half twice – the 2000 and 2008 bear markets – with my being virtually oblivious to it during those times sickened me. I’m grateful that I finally woke up and can confidently manage and safeguard the retirement accounts for my wife and I now that we are close to retirement. Up until recently it has been sheer dumb luck that we have benefited from the market’s current run to all-time highs.

Back to the trading. It has been a challenge, to say the least, but now in my sixth year I am finally practicing a strategy that works along with the discipline to execute it. A large percentage of that results from a handful of traders such as yourself who have shared what they’ve learned so that “home gamers” like me can find the means to succeed. I don’t think anyone who has studied or trained for a career in the financial world of trading truly understands the myriad of pitfalls novices face, or if they do they likely exploit them for their own gain. Fair enough, but it’s easy for me to see why most traders give up, blow up or wash out. I’m glad to count myself among the minority who have navigated successfully through the minefield where so many others have failed.

“Trend Following” has long been on my “must read” recommendation list. Congratulations on the publication of the new edition of your book; it’s a beauty. My old version is heavily highlighted, and I expect my new copy will be as well.

I’m also an avid fan of your podcasts. From those, and your writings, what I appreciate above all else is your genuine sense of honest, no bullshit, tell it like it is approach to getting your message across to those eager to listen and learn. Your podcasts are light years ahead of any others I listen to because you actually engage your guests with questions and comments pertinent to what they’re talking about, making them more enthusiastic about how they’re responding. Nothing ever comes off sounding scripted, and that’s damn refreshing and entertaining.

The main reason I mentioned that I was a police officer is because of an interesting parallel in regard to each of our paths through life. I can say that after 27 years of working the streets of [Name] there is a world which exists all around us which most people aren’t even aware of, and probably never will be. I tell family and friends true stories of experiences I have, and even as I’m speaking to them I can see the expression on their face belies the fact that they’re not fully believing what I’m saying, or at the very least I’m exaggerating. My experiences are often too contrary to experiences they’ve had in the world they live their lives in. They have no reference point to fathom the extremes of the world I work in.

I’ve never stepped foot on Wall Street, but the parallel I see between you and I is that, with my own unique perspective in mind, I can more readily believe and accept your no bullshit, tell it like it is interpretation of what really happens in the real world of Wall Street which most people aren’t aware of, and probably never will be. What you write and what you say sidesteps the sensationalized media noise of CNBC, et al., and shines a light on a world so contrary to those who accept CNBC noise as gospel that they can’t or won’t fathom the possibility of anything other than what they’re being spoon fed as truth.

The insight of real worlds existing beyond the worlds most people see is something I think we have in common, in our own ways. Accepting the wisdom of your unique perspective of the trading world has helped me greatly in garnering the measure of success which I’ve achieved thus far. For that, I thank you.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I know it got a bit lengthy, but I guess I got on a roll.

If you’re ever in [Name] I’d be delighted to meet up with you somewhere for a bite to eat, or just to shake your hand and thank you in person for all you’ve done for me, if possible.

Thanks again!



Thanks! Awesome feedback. Made me smile.

Further Trend Following Articles and podcasts: Interview with Michael Gervais; Bryan Caplan Podcast; This Monkey’s gone to heaven; How Nicolas Darvas made $2 million Trend Following, and the Big Event Big Crash.

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