Will algorithmic trading take over the market? How much of a chance do you stand against university trained quants and other math goliaths? Are you too old to keep up or catch up? Is there a way to measure yourself before you commit and maybe lose some or all of your savings in the market? That’s some of the questions that are starting to bother more than a few retail investors. I will try to address them in this article.
As you may have seen on this site, I use my own indicators and algos. Where do they come from? The days that you could easily make money by using standard tools like the RSI or simple moving averages are long gone. Using them is like turning up for a Nascar race with a bullock cart, really… But, you can try to catch up, just like I have tried. I am not a trained a mathematician, I call myself a nexpert, a self-taught nexpert. If I can do it, you can do it. But it will take time, motivation, some basic math skills (or coursera) and a computer.
So, how to get started? Well, why not learn from the best? Would your game of golf improve if you could play some rounds alongside Tiger Woods? Probably. Will your game of poker improve if you play with people who are even worse than you are? Probably not much. The good news is that the internet has made it possible to compete alongside some of the best data scientists in the world. You will not win, but you will learn a lot, things that you can then use in your trading. So, here is the first step: head over to kaggle.com and sign up for a free account. That site organises regular data science contests and sometimes there is big prize money to be won. Many of their contests are sponsored by major companies like GE. There are also starter contests that will teach you the basics of data science. In fact, some of the contests are sponsored by hedge funds who are looking for top talents. So, winning may land you a very well-paying job, designing algos for a hedge fund. Of course, you are not likely to win, because you are up against math professors, university teams and nutcases like me. But you will learn a lot and you will find out where you stand against specialists in the field. I joined kaggle a few years ago and participated in two contests before I took my new skills to play with my own indicators and algos for the stocks market. In the first contest I ranked 98th out of 353 teams. Not too bad. On the second occasion I finished 48th out of 355, so almost in the top 10%. I was surprised to leave college teams behind me, and that gave me confidence that maybe I am not all that bad at this. Here you can find links to the contests I did: https://www.kaggle.com/users/71553/ttbo
Right now an interesting new contest is starting with $100000 for the winner, and I might jump in if time permits. The challenge is to classify ocean plankton. Now, you may ask what the hell has classifying plankton to do with the stock market? Well, playing the stock market is also a classification problem. If you can find a better way to classify stock setups in categories like “Bullish”, “Bearish” and “Neutral” you are on your way to profits. The skills you learn to classify plankton better can be used to classify stocks as well. Your computer won’t care whether it is classifying plankton or stocks.
The world is full of people complaining about the economy and no good jobs… But half of the day they are wasting away on facebook or playing angry birds on their smart phone (what “smart” phone?). So, why not waste that time on something that may yield some useful new skills? Times have never been better for people with the motivation to learn something new, because the internet makes it free and fun to pick up skills. If I can do it, you can do it. Are you taking advantage?
Good luck, Danny