Getting into the futures trading market is a volatile and risky business to attempt. Of course, any sort of marketplace like this can be risky but futures tend to be more problematic due to their unknown nature and sometimes very long wait times for outcomes and completion of a trade. While it may seem easy enough to jump right in and try your hand in the pit or ring without sitting down with a book to figure out what’s really going on first, this is a good way to lose money and may not be worth the rushed advances. You might get lucky, but you certainly won’t learn any particularly worthwhile skill sets. It’s important to fully understand the risks and rewards as well as have some help honing your abilities before making a big move that might cost you. Fortunately, there are many different ways to get involved and learn before you burn through your cash roll; some are hands on, while others are theoretical, but they all have their merits.
It may seem silly to sit at home watching interactive CD ROMs and listening to the directions come through your screen, but this is an excellent way to get images of trades in action and get real information from professionals about what’s going on behind the scenes. Tradingcharts.com has the following to say about CD ROM learning:
Lessons are presented in a casual, conversational style – almost like having a personal instructor to guide you toward success.
Most of these lesson plans are broken down into sections for easy step-by-step learning and you can follow along quite easily with information booklets, quizzes, and sometimes games that will make it easy to understand strategy and motive where the market is concerned. The fact that these are generally based from a beginner to expert level gives you a leg up over the competition. It means that whether you’re going in blind or with some knowledge of the market already you’ll find yourself learning something you didn’t know yet.
Nothing is quite the same as having somebody to talk to personally about what’s going on and how you’re becoming acquainted with the market. Although it isn’t really your broker’s job to teach you what the futures market is all about and how to make your trades, they are there to assist you in any way that they can and most have sites loaded with information that you can take advantage of once you’re on-board as a client. The Globe And Mail advises:
Novice traders should look for a broker offering superior client support, extensive education and simulated trading accounts for testing trading strategies without risking cash.
Some offer customer services where you can call in or chat online with a representative that can answer questions and point you in the right direction for information. Others have strategy guides, glossaries, and education tools built right in so that you can learn as you go.
Along with the above-mentioned broker websites and educational programs come demo accounts which allow you to dip your toe in the market without suffering any risk at all. These are possibly one of the best ways to learn because you can actually get your hands into the pot and learn by doing rather than just listening to the theoretical approach to trading. Many of these accounts run on real time which allows you to follow the market as it dips and rises and prices move and grow. It can give you a sense not only of what the actual futures industry is all about but also give you a feel for the tools you’ll be using if you choose that particular broker. Every platform tends to have its own unique setup and tools that let you streamline and personalize your account to your standards. If you want to add a successful futures account to your portfolio, it’s a good idea to try one of these programs; they’re generally free, at least to start, and customer service inquiries can be made if you’re having trouble with a particular portion of the operation.
For those who learn best by reading rather than listening, and want to save the hands on stuff for the field there are a variety of online courses made available through multiple different internet resources. The list of places you can go for this kind of training is seemingly endless and each site seems to offer its own unique training system. Some are actually set up like school programs complete with testing, quizzes, and assignments to get you better acquainted with the system that you’ll be using. Lots of internet sources of this nature are completely free and made by enthusiasts or brokers who compile data from different locations, while others require “tuition” of sorts and require payment in order to register and reap the many benefits of their system. Tradingacademy.com explains:
Remember, you’ll pay for your education one way or another. You can give your money to the markets through novice trades, or pay it to the institutions as fees and commissions, or pay yourself by learning to trade like a professional.
It’s definitely a personal preference as to which type of training you’ll use; while some people find the paid methods worth the extra money others think the ideal way to learn is by teaching yourself and using other tools made available online. In the end you might need to try more than one site to find one that you think is knowledgeable enough to work for you.
If you find that one manner of learning isn’t giving you the desired results or you find it difficult to understand certain portions of the industry while others come easily, you can look into a demo account while you read up from other sources. This lets you learn two ways at once without risking any money. If you have questions, but don’t want to get a broker involved yet, seek out a forum or blog pertaining to futures trading and the market on which it runs. This will allow you to ask questions and make friends with likeminded individuals with similar interests.