It’s been a hot minute since our last member feature, but we’re back with another exciting one! As a seasoned member of the BabyPips community, his contributions have provided guidance to a lot of our members. Today, we get to learn more about him and his trading background!
@Enickma started his career as a technical support for ISPs and then moved on to become a solutions architect in cyber security. Working for one of the major brokerage firms in the US as part of their tech team was all it took to get him hooked on forex trading. As he started his trading career, though, a challenge soon appeared: how can one have a healthy work-life balance?
With a big family to care for, a full-time job, the dream to travel across countries, and a ton of different hobbies, spending hours upon hours watching charts is just something he cannot afford to do. A possible solution? Building his own Expert Advisor (EA).
He has taken inspiration from Robopip’s Inside Bar Momentum Strategy and is currently working on his very own EA which he’s planning on eventually sharing with the community.
This Q&A gives us a peek into someone’s very busy life - trading included!
So, without further ado, we give you @Enickma!
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? What are your hobbies, interests, favorites?
My name is Nick. I’m 42, and I live near St. Louis. I have too many hobbies and interests. I’m one of those people that would live 100 lifetimes if they could, just to see and experience it all. I’m a politics nerd. I’m a gamer. I’m a home brewer, specializing in Imperial stouts. I have a big family, and an exciting career, all of which keep me VERY busy. I’m a solutions architect in the cyber security space, and most often I focus on helping large companies secure their cloud infrastructures.
Part of my job is also public speaking, so I often have to grab a mic and walk around a stage talking to audiences about security. Thankfully they don’t often go larger than a few hundred people! My job has me traveling a lot, and I’m normally hopping from one plane to another, attending trade shows, meeting customers, trying to find the most interesting hotels to stay at, and bars to drink at! Traveling is fun for me. I enjoy meeting different people from all over, hearing their stories, and seeing the world. Recently I’ve been to Dubai, Yokohama, Vancouver, and all over the US. I have so much more to see!
Another favorite hobby of mine is pizza. I’ve been a pizza maker since I was young, and it’s still one of my favorite things in the universe. Hey look, a middle-aged dad that loves pizza and beer… SHOCKER I KNOW! I’m a “work hard / play hard” sort of person. I try to spend weekdays strength training and eating clean, and weekends drinking beer and eating pizza.
I’ve been a tinkerer my whole life. I was the kid taking apart his toys, seeing if I could modify them, and occasionally suffering the defeat of not being able to get them back together! That naturally turned into an interest in computers. My first one was an 8088XT with a 21MB hard drive, 640KB of RAM and MS DOS 3.3. I read the DOS 3.3 manual cover to cover with fascination, like a good little nerd. Fast forward to my early 20s, and I started my IT career doing tech support for ISPs. After a few years of troubleshooting people’s broken internet connections, I wanted to expand so I took a job as tech support for a major stock broker / investment firm. I’ll tell you what, you’ve never dealt with a difficult end user until you’ve supported an over-caffeinated equity trader with a broken terminal. Dear God. I learned a lot working at that brokerage firm, and that brings us to question 2!
2. How long have you been trading and how did you get into the world of forex trading?
Working at that firm gave me my first real exposure to this whole world. I had to help brokers fix broken charting software, so I learned about charting, then TA, and on and on. I got interested in equity trading and I learned about all the different order types, market data, fundamentals, all that. I became an active member and later a moderator at a popular online stock message board community.
It didn’t take long for someone to suggest I look into currencies. I started reading books on Forex, and after a while, I found this cool resource called the “School of Pipsology” that really helped me cement my basics back then. It’s hard to believe it’s been well over a decade now. I should probably re-take it!
3. Could you take us through your typical trading day?
This is probably an area where I differ greatly from most other traders. Because I have such a busy existence, there’s no possibility that I can actually trade. Between all the kids running around needing things, constant work meetings, travel, and everything else, paying attention to a trading terminal is not a luxury I have. That’s why I decided a few years ago to get into writing EAs.
I’ve always been more of a systems/ops geek than a dev, but I do know my way around basic coding. I read through the MQL4 book cover to cover like a good little nerd and started writing HORRIBLE EAs. I can’t even tell you how many mistakes I’ve made, caught, and fixed in my code over the years, but I’ve kept at it!
Now I’m at a point where I feel like I understand not only how to write an EA, but how to write them correctly. I try to share little coding learning tidbits in the Trading Systems forum when I can. I hope they help someone at some point. Long story short, a typical trading day for me means taking any opportunity I can to glance at the robots I have trading for me; making sure they aren’t throwing errors or misfiring somehow. All the while in the background I have several virtual machines, each with its own licensed tick data running 99.9% optimization tests over 15+ yr periods on the EAs to make sure that I have the best settings dialed in.
Late at night, when everyone else has thrown in the towel for the day and gone to bed, I sometimes find time to sneak down to my office and test code modifications between chatting on the forums here. Life is good.
4. Tell us about your trading style. What were your first strategies in forex trading? How are they different from your strategies today?
These are good questions! It has changed, most recently, and mostly because of what I’ve learned here at Babypips.
I’ve always favored breakout trading based on Kathy Lien’s unique use of Bollinger bands. She explains this all in her books, but to put it simply, first and second standard deviation Bollinger bands are plotted, and the space between the first and second deviations is considered a “breakout channel”. She has this really interesting method of looking at situations surrounding price entering the upper or lower breakout channels, when and where to get in and out, etc.
I’ve been playing with my own versions of BB breakout channel strategies for years, and I’ve always found it comfortable territory. After doing a bunch of reading and chatting here on the BP forums, I’ve had so many conversations with people about different ways to enter and exit trades, different price action strategies, indicators, and how to use them, you name it. I’ve learned so many new concepts I didn’t know before.
As you might imagine, after building my coding skillset I’ve wanted to codify some of these learnings. One strategy that caught my attention was Robopip’s inside bar strategy that is featured under “Trading Systems’’ here at Babypips. It took me about 4 hours to codify it. I started cranking it through my testing regimen, and after some observation, decided that I wanted to create my own version of it. I’ve consulted with ProfessorPIPs on the overall strategy, and also have played with his IB bot, which interestingly shares some of the same ideas I had! We have such a great, supportive community here at BP, I cannot stress enough how thankful I am for all of you.
In summary, my approaches have shifted away from indicators and more towards price action. Now looking for more than just momentum. I think I’ve grown a bit. Ultimately I think the best success is a blend of complementary techniques, and that can take many forms.
5. Do you have any trading “mistakes” you still find yourself doing? What are they and why do you think it has been difficult to avoid?
I think I’m probably guilty of any trading sin you can imagine. I’d like to say I’ve overcome all of it, but in truth, I’ve overcome nearly none of it.
When I manually trade, I do everything wrong from an emotional perspective, and that’s another reason it’s a REALLY good idea for me to write EAs that don’t have feelings. I can get in a trade knowing I’m by design on the wrong side of a spread and still sweat that it’s down. I’ll watch ticks come in a little up, then a little down, then a little up, then a little down, and start to think “This wasn’t the trade you thought it was! You’re just stuck here now and it’s gonna screw you! You know it will!” I tell that voice to shut up and trust the trade plan, and then it jerks the wrong way and you’re like uuuuuugh! After some agonizing amount of time, it reverses, and the second you’re profitable you want to get out immediately just to break even. This is not the way. Maybe it didn’t turn around. Maybe it hit a stop and I’m looking at my account balance down and the urge to revenge trade and take some position outside of my trade plan creeps in. You just want to make the losses back.
I’m convinced after all this time that the Forex market drinks our tears with joy. I know everyone always says it, but the psychological component of Forex trading is one of the most important parts. I’ve got to be honest, I’m terrible at that part. I’m a gushy, emotional, wine-drinking, impulsive weakling. I’m much better off building a robot with what I think is the statistically best configuration, turning it loose, and function-checking it. I wasn’t made to trade currencies (even though I love currency trading). Ironic, isn’t it?
6. What do you think are some of the most popular trading misconceptions?
Specific to Forex, the king misconception is difficulty for sure. That cherished chart setup that works so well for stocks is useless. That 1:2 risk:reward ratio you trade other things with… bwahaha. Those profits you thought you just made… we’ll take those back thank you. The way forex price action retraces and whipsaws lends itself to things like 2-tiered exits, locking in small, easily achievable profits, then trailing SL should the move continue. Forex is famous for fakeouts instead of breakouts. I don’t think people fully comprehend how different and difficult it can be.
7. What’s your opinion on cryptocurrencies?
This is such a complicated thing. I think we need to examine crypto on two fronts. First, we should recognize that blockchain represents the future.
It changes how we do contracts, how currencies work, and even potentially how compute itself works. Decentralizing transactions has a lot of potentials, and I believe we will witness a new world where cryptocurrencies in many cases gain the legitimacy of central bank currencies. How the existing markets react to and adopt that remains to be seen.
The second perspective we have to take on cryptocurrencies is as an investment instrument. If I would have dropped a few thousand on Dogecoin in Jan of this year I’d be typing this from my boat right now. At the same time, I got excited about ICP when it launched, and took a 75% hit before I finally, reluctantly gave up on it. I view crypto investing as Wild West. If you’ve got a spare change to risk on something it MIGHT pay off big, it might do jack ****.
Right now most crypto seems to be rising and falling with Bitcoin, and I’d like to see that decouple a bit. Ethereum seems really promising, and I may get into that at some point. Like all investments, do your DD and only risk money you can afford to lose. One final thought on crypto, I’ve become a Chia farmer. I like how it moves the focus from processor cycles to storage space. As of this writing, I only have ~160 plots and have not yet earned a single XCH, but I believe all these hard drives will eventually pay off!
8. If you could thank one person who contributed positively to your trading journey, who would you thank?
Kathy Lien. I have learned more from her than anyone else. She is so smart and considerate of subject matter, it helped me frame my Forex trading mindset from the beginning. I’ve read several of her books, and very highly recommend her teaching.
9. Which among the BabyPips forum threads (that are not your own) do you find the most interesting? Why?
I can’t cite a single thread, but I’m a sucker for trading systems threads. I LOVE reading about how other people structure their entry criteria, exit targets, stops, trailing stops, etc. The different uses of indicators and price movement are infinitely interesting to me.
10. What’s the most memorable advice (trading-related or otherwise) you’ve ever received and why?
(Non-trading) If I could pass on one set of advice that has made the difference for me it would be this: Be a light in the darkness. A single act of kindness can shatter cynicism and spread. Be strong enough to be soft. The world has enough hardasses. Love everyone, especially those that are different from you. Empower others. Forgive. Wear your emotions on your sleeve and show your heart to everyone without fear. Strength isn’t a strong arm, it’s being able to do the right thing when the right thing is hard to do. Always try to look at it from someone else’s point of view. Inspire people. Break the rules. Never be afraid to fail. Finally as always… take chances, make mistakes, get messy! Much love my Babypips peeps. See you all on the forums!