An IT consultant with decades of investing experience, Mondeoman does not hesitate to welcome and help out members of the BabyPips community. He exudes a kind and gentle presence that helps make the BabyPips forums a welcoming place for those who dare venture into the world of forex.
He has only been a member of the community for a little over a year but he’s already shared a lot about his trading journey including his trading journal, “Mondeoman Fast Track Trading Journal.”
His losses, wins, strategy, even his flaws – he shares them all. Because despite facing numerous challenges along the way-- forcing him to take a few steps back from trading-- he has always found himself returning with even more motivation to become a better forex trader.
Today, we get to know more about this trader who measures his success in terms of joy and happiness.
Without further ado, we give you @Mondeoman!
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? What are your hobbies and interests?
Where am I from? I was born in Manchester, my parents emigrated to Australia when I was 8, came back to the UK when I was 16, I went to school back in Manchester (Ashton-u-Lyne) university in London. I worked for four years in the Far East (Asia Pacific now), returned to the UK, then spent 12 years in the Middle East returning to the UK twenty years ago for our sons’ education. I guess you could say I am from anywhere and nowhere.
What are my hobbies and interests? Meeting new people, either face to face but increasingly on video calls, teleconferences, live or recorded webinars, focus group meetings or social media pull technologies (as opposed to push technologies that I can’t stand like targeted advertising). My interests are varied – perhaps too varied, and range from concern about global waste and pollution (I spent most of my career in the oil and gas exploration business), a fascination about things I find hard to understand like longevity research, dark matter, and energy, “free energy”, electromagnetic radiation, conspiracy theorist rationalization, the actions or inactions of politicians and of course, FOREX.
I started a Journey Journal post on BabyPips and the first two entries to that Journal have a few anecdotes about some of the varied life experiences I have been fortunate enough to have. I like to say “I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up”. I was inspired by Mike Wolski’s journal, and I felt we had something in common. My journal is not for the completely uninitiated, but I try to write about some of the things I have learned along the way from such classic knowledge bases as School of Pipsology, Trading in the Zone (Mark Douglas), Trade Your Way to Financial Freedom (Van K Tharp), Market Wizards, The New Market Wizards, The 4 Hour Work Week (Tim Ferris). I have just counted 19 books on the bookshelf related to trading (Forex, stocks, commodities, precious metal trading).
When I approach a complex problem (and I define becoming a successful Forex trader as a complex problem), I break it down into manageable chunks and inevitably end up writing a plan (business plan, trading plan, life experience plan – whatever you like to think of it as) simply because for the past 30 years my wife and I have planned (and documented) every significant life decision we have taken, starting off with the usual list of pros and cons, and developing it from there.
It’s both a blessing (reassurance that you will not detract when that psychology starts to get to you) and a curse (when you inevitably need to go back and write the next chapter in ever-increasing detail of the main actions you need to take to either stay on track or to make planned corrective actions to get back on track. It has served us well for the past 30 years.
2. What were you doing before you discovered forex?
I was working in Syria as the general manager of an oilfield service company before mobile phones or even fax machines were ubiquitous. I was a high earner with a lot of residual income and no debt baggage and no assets. I used to listen to BBC World Service around midnight (New York market close) and started maintaining a written record of the exchange rate between GBP and USD.
At the time I was paid in USD and my thought processes were driven by an assumed future cost base of GBP. The Euro was not in existence, and annual interest rates on deposit of GBP were around 10%, USD around 12%. We banked in Switzerland at the time. Data communication was almost impossible from Syria, but telephone calls to abroad (costing about $2 a minute) were reasonable quality most of the time. We asked our banker if we could “buy” some USD with our deposits of GBP, and vice versa. After a couple of trades (no margin – just straightforward physical purchase of currency), we had made a few thousand dollars of profit – luck, but we thought that was us being clever. The banker said, “you know – you can control $500K trades if you wish – you can borrow five times your deposits with us”.
We thought that was a fantastic idea – most of you know what happened next without me telling the story.
3. Have you changed anything in your trading style after some years of absence in the BabyPips forum? What were these changes and why?
Many, many changes. I am a lot more patient about the journey now. Our long-term expectation is that if we can make between 5% and 15% per YEAR from overall trading in the longer term, that will satisfy our median plan outcomes completely.
We have three future asset and income targets and have had for 30 years, which are described as the minimum, median, and maximum. The minimum target has been locked in for more than a decade. The median is about 80% complete, but we still aspire to achieve the maximum – that target is inter-generational and will provide at least an average UK salary type net income to our boys, if need be, for the rest of their lives.
That does not stop me reminding both of them that their parents have planned to spend every last penny before we pop our clogs at the actuaries-calculated 80% probable age of death of 91 years. If we live any longer than that, they will have to look after us or have us euthanized. Though we would love Forex (or more broadly financial trading) to provide us with a six-figure income every year, it is absolutely not necessary, and not expected.
I pay a lot more attention to risk management within the context of risk/reward ratios now, and when I develop a trading strategy and plan it has very specific statistically expected outcomes that I track fiercely to ensure we do not fall outside the predicted range of expectation. I am no statistical expert, but I have spent much of my life analyzing engineering data and understanding what probabilities mean in practice in matters such as life and death, financial health, etc.
If Forex were to contribute even 25% to our future income from an investment of 10% of our total assets, that would be a fine outcome. This needs to be understood in the context that we are near the end of our conventional working lives. If I were 30 years younger, I would have a far greater risk appetite (as I did in the past, which contributed to our current success).
4. What was your most successful or memorable trade, and your worst trade?
That is a really interesting question, which I will answer with a Forex example, though I have far more interesting memorable trades that have nothing to do with Forex. I used to own a scrapyard in Manchester, but that is a different story. And in our trading business in the Middle East, I once had a staff competition based on the best percentage mark-up for an item sold to our corporate clients within the month. That resulted in a 1,300% mark-up on a table for which I had to pay the engineer about a month’s wages in bonus to the ingenious guy who put the quote into the client. We had to shorten the legs to achieve the exact customer specification, but I digress.
Back in 2015, I was trading like one of those guys you see on CNN news in the background with his nose to eight screens -I think we are supposed to call that either scalping or day trading. Anyway, from the moment I entered the trade (for about £10 at the time), price action went my way, and kept going, and going, and going. My take profit (in my plan, not entered in the trade) was 3R, but it hit 3R in about thirty seconds.
My friend arrived at the door – we were due to go out for a beer. I yelled to the kids to let him in and shouted “come and see what I am doing”. Gaz came into my office room at home, looked at the two 24 inch monitors full of squiggly lines, and said “WTF?” I hit the sell order at 11X - £110 up and spent the rest of the night waxing lyrical about how I was about to become a Brazillionaire.
Two months later, the account was down 30% and I wondered how the heck that could have happened when I limited my trades to a maximum of 2% per trade with a maximum of no more than 4 trades open at once. I am far more cautious now.
5. How has trading changed your life? What have you learned so far about trading the forex market? What changes might you make in the future?
How has trading changed my life? Trading in the broadest sense has made my life very pleasant. I have been through quite a few failed ventures, but my wife and I have been trading (physical goods and services) for almost 30 years and have managed to live a very comfortable life. I also have a well-paid day job as a contract IT management consultant. My first “trade” was made at school when I sold something like a plastic marble for 1d (one old penny in English money). I think I was six or seven. Forex is something I have been involved in, on and off, since 1988. More off than on.
What have I learned so far about trading the Forex market? I have not made money to date in the Forex market, but losses have never been negatively life-affecting.
Before I make any change in decisions about how we allocate our funds, I always discuss that in detail with my partner and wife of 30 years. That sometimes results in us not pursuing an idea, but it has never resulted in a disagreement. If either of us feels uncomfortable about an application of money or assets to a new venture, we just don’t pursue it. What I have paid for in formal education in the early days and on a continuing basis by participating in conversations with like-minded people, and actual trading has been worth it ten times over. I feel we have got to where we are with Forex at a very low cost, and for that, I am grateful that I have been taught humility by the market. That is about relative risk assessment, which I have learned over the years by participating in failed ventures with a Never Give UP attitude.
Changes in the future. We have been participating in the Crypto-currency market now for four months. It’s like stocks on speed regarding volatility. A volatile day in Crypto has the same range of activity as a volatile year in stock trading. So far, so good.
6. What piece of advice would you give to someone who is thinking about trading for a living?
The short answer is “don’t give up the day job just yet”.
I hope this answer does not disappoint. I am asked on almost a daily basis for advice about future direction in life, investment, trading. I genuinely care that the quality of advice I give should be worth the time I spend giving it, and the time of the other party in listening to it. Here we go. I think there are about seven billion souls on this planet, and I think that consideration of the best thing for each of those souls to do in their lives results in about seven billion different plans. We are all unique.
So when I am asked for advice about trading for a living, I ask “are you happy with your life as it is right now? The answer is always “No”. If it were “yes” then I would ask “if you are happy now, why would you want to complicate your life (time spent and capital at risk) with pursuing something that history shows results in losses for about 90% or more of participants?” Remain happy and do not complicate your life. If the answer is still “yes”, then I would advise them to do what I have done in the past few years. For me, the reason I do it is “because I can”, and the inner drive that tells me “it is an interesting mental exercise to want to achieve success when the odds are 100/1 against making a significant amount of consistent profit from the time I invest in the subject matter”. That could be an entrepreneurial spirit or just plain madness.
When I ask for reasons why the answer is “No” to being happy, the answer is most likely that they hate their job before thinking of trading for a living, I ask the requestor to think about all the other alternatives, and think about the outcomes. There is nothing worse in life than being so confused as not having a life plan. This is where the “don’t quit the day job just yet” comes from. I tell them that Forex for me is one of around ten pursuits that I consider to be a constant in my life and compared with some pursuits it is taking up a disproportionate amount of time. If I try to reconcile the time I spend learning about Forex with the guaranteed hourly rate I earn whilst consulting, there is no economic sense to the time I spend that could be justified as valid business use of time.
However, learning about Forex, in particular about psychology, game theory, probabilities and risk management has had big benefits in other areas of our lives, and has helped to reinforce the underlying long term value of the previous decisions we took far earlier in our lives about gold, property, maintaining ownership of two very small businesses and resisting the urge to grow them bigger, which would have resulted in the same negative effect on our lives as when I used to manage 70 staff as a salaried country manager of a large multinational. I measure our success in terms of happiness now, not in terms of how many USDs are in our bank account. I could be equally happy spending 25K a year as spending 100K a year.
BabyPips is such a valuable resource in this respect and leverages the knowledge of more experienced members to the benefit of new members in advising how not to blow up multiple live accounts when you can learn at no direct monetary cost and avoid the negative potholes by substituting excitement and impatience with a slow and managed plan to read, to question and to learn.
My motivation in participating in this forum is that by answering questions from younger members, I reinforce and recalibrate my own belief systems. I make mistakes like everyone else. I am proud to be able to report those mistakes to others because it then magnifies my own drive to work to measure the mistakes, to have a plan of action to eliminate the mistakes, and to work on continuous improvement.
7. Which among the BabyPips forum topics (that are not your own) do you find the most interesting? Why?
The Journals section contributions by others. I have not yet read them all, but the content is thought-provoking, and I love some of the ideas. Following the tried and trusted process is bound to result in success for anyone who can develop the psychological framework in which to conduct oneself. And believe me, that is so easy on paper, and so frustratingly difficult in practice. That is what my current horse racing pursuit is all about. Do I trust the math? Do I understand the reasons for variance? Could I have chosen a more simple strategy and plan to make a point? For sure. But sometimes choosing difficult is more rewarding and more educational than choosing the easy route.
8. What made you decide to invest in cryptocurrency?
One of the luxuries of being a contract consultant is to sometimes – when out of contract - be able to spend an inordinate amount of time pursuing off-the-wall topics for hours and days on end.
During May of 2020 we had some of our son’s old school friends around for a party (it used to be beer pong, but they have matured somewhat and now it’s just smoking and drinking). Three of them started to talk about their crypto investment whilst at Uni and how they had achieved “ten baggers” during the 2017 /2018 hiatus.
I asked if they did fundamental, technical or social engineering (psychological) analysis of their prospective crypto-currencies before they made their decisions, and were the decisions based on long term (investment) or short term (trading) gains. The answers scared me to death – they just put their money in Bitcoin or Ethereum for the chance of making “bucket loads of cash”. One of them had made over £4,000 from a £500 investment and thought that was a clever move. They were all going to buy Tesla before the stock split recently with the same rationale – everyone is doing it so they are bound to go up – just like Crypto.
It took me literally less than two hours of browsing before I found a documentary by Roger Ver about how Cryptocurrencies could eliminate the hold that our national governments have over the freedom of its citizens by controlling their Fiat currency supply via sovereignty, and paying for their irrational exuberance in spending “somebody else’s money” to guarantee the eventual payback via their captive audiences of citizens as taxpayers.
That hooked me into about 400 hours and counting of time allocated to fast track Crypto learning, and in adding Cryptocurrency investment AND trading to our future pursuits. Participation has gone from 0% in May to 1.1% of assets in September 2020, with a target of 5% of asset participation by mid 2021. Funding from over-allocation in gold. Whilst the investment side of that decision is well developed, the trading element requires the same knowledge and application of that knowledge as does Forex trading. The two are interdependent, so time spent on one pursuit has benefits to the outcomes of both.
9. If you could thank one person who contributed positively to your trading journey, who would you thank?
My wife and life partner of 30 years. She is a rock. She has put up with my eccentricities ever since we met, gives me encouragement and strength to do the difficult things in life because they are the right things to do. For that, she deserves a medal.
10. If you had to recommend just one book and one movie to a trader (either newbie or experienced), what would they be and why?
Book. Happiness by Richard Layard. Why? Reading this book reinforced that my thoughts and actions in this world are in good proportion to satisfy my own definitions of how one can most usefully live a fulfilling life, therefore being happy. I often feel guilty that I do not spend more time on charitable works, but my wife more than makes up for my shortcomings in this department.
Movie. The Deer Hunter. Why? I have watched this movie over a dozen times and each time I watch it I learn something more deeply about human nature, our choices in life along the way, and how sometimes external influences can either kill us or cure us.