FREE Guide - 5 Chart Patterns You Need to Know!

Pros and Cons of Two Popular Trading Exit Strategies

Whether trading futures or another market, there are predominantly two types of traders: those that try for big gains on each trade and those that try to make more consistent smaller winners. To use a baseball analogy, we have traders who hit homeruns and traders who hit singles and doubles.

One approach isn't necessarily better than another, but depending on your personality, one is likely better for you.

The homerun approach typically uses a trailing stop or indicators in attempt to ride out price moves for as long as possible.  When a big trend develops the payoff is large...but big trends are hard to predict, so there are likely to be many small losses before a big winner comes along. Therefore the home run approach tends to have a lower win-rate (you may win only one to three trades out of ten), but the wins are sizable.

Then there is the "profit target" approach (see Euro Triggers Another Short Trade). By studying the price action traders set exit orders based on what the futures contract has been doing recently. The gains on each trade are typically smaller, but the win-rate tends to be a bit higher since the exit order is placed within the probable movement path of the asset's price.  Using profit targets a trader may win four, five, six or even seven times out of ten, but typically the higher the win-rate the smaller the wins are relative to the risk taken. This is because it is harder to make 3% on a trade while only risking 1%, than it is make only 1% while risking 1%. In the latter case, the market needs to move less in order to produce a profitable trade.

Traders face a trade-off. It comes down to what you are most comfortable with. Do you prefer a couple big wins but more losses (typically), or an approach which yields more small(er) winners? One approach will likely drive you nuts while the other allows you to sleep at night.

Another option is a combination of the two. Set fixed targets, but also attach a trailing stop. In this way, some profits can be taken at the pre-defined exit and another portion of the position is allowed to run for potentially larger gains (see US Dollar and the Snap-Back Strategy). The trailing stop will also exit trades which are profitable, but fail to reach the profit target. This approach tends to increase the number of winning trades, but because many trades will be prematurely stopped out, the size of the wins tends to decrease.

Which method you opt to trade with doesn't matter, but once you decide, stick to it.


Get This FREE Technical Analysis Guide!
Timing is everything, and with this guide, you'll learn how technical analysis can help find the right time to enter and exit your futures trades. Nearly 30 explanations and examples of the most popular technical analysis tools are all in this one handy guide. It's like having a futures trading mentor at your side!