James Bishop knows what it takes to set investment goals and how to achieve them. Bishop spent many years learning the keys to financial success from his personal mentor, MTI founder Jared Martinez (The FXChief).
In his role as a senior market analyst and client success coach, Bishop has taught thousands of traders those same proven principles that he still practices daily. He currently leads live weekly student webinars, where Bishop shares his market analysis and covers the latest trading opportunities.
(Click here to register for our next free education webinar.)
We asked Bishop to share his expert insights on how traders should go about setting, prioritizing and reaching their money goals.
What key factors should investors/traders consider first when setting financial goals?
Bishop: I think the answer is different for each type of investor. If it’s somebody that’s brand new to trading, then they may want to focus on listing their short-term goals, seeing those achieved and then setting their long-term goals.
If it’s somebody that’s been trading for some time, they may want to only focus on their long-term goals. But setting goals also has to do with the phase of life that an investor is in currently. Your goal as a 20 to 35-year-old trader is going to be different from your goal as a 50 to 70-year-old trader.
You need to factor in the question of “What are you willing to lose when it comes to your trading?” So, for the 20 to 35-year-old person, their top goal is probably to grow their initial trading account.
They’re young enough that it’s going to be okay if they lost their small trading account and had to refund it. They have more time to recover from a loss than an older trader does. Lastly, every goal you set has to be S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound)
Describe the process for setting a S.M.A.R.T. goal.
Bishop: The goal must be specific. And when I say specific, to me that means it needs to be a number. I get some people that say, “I want to make X amount of pips per month.” Well, you can’t pay a bill with pips and you can’t put pips in the bank. So let’s talk dollars, right? You fund your account with dollars. How much do you want to grow that account in dollars?
Next, look at the percentage of gains you’ll need if you’re binding that goal number to a time period. Let’s say you want to double your account in one year. Do you really have the skillset to double your account in that first year? Or should you set a goal of 40% to 50% returns instead?
I don’t mind setting what we call a secondary “10X goal,” which is 10% higher than your primary goal. But let’s not set your goals so lofty that it’s just completely unachievable.
Then another thing you need to consider is the amount of capital you have to work with. For example, if you say, “I want to turn $500 into $5,000 in one year.” Is that possible? Yes. Is it plausible? No. So look at the difference between possibility and implausibility, especially when it’s your first year as a trader.
The next step is to make your goal measurable. So, do quarterly check-ins with yourself. Let’s say I want to make a $5,000 profit this year. Sounds like a good goal. You’d take that $5,000 divided by four quarters and say, “Have I made $1,250 this quarter? Why not?” You need to find out the answer.
Third, make sure your goal is actually attainable. Let’s say I have $500 and I want to turn that into $5,000 in a year. So really my goal is to make $4,500.
At 10 cents a pip divided by 0.1, you need to make 45,000 pips in a year. If you divide that 45,000 by 12 months, then the result is that you need to make 3,750 pips a month.
If you divide that number by 20 trading days in a month, it shows you must make 187 pips a day to reach your annual goal. Is that doable? If the answer is “no,” then let’s readjust your goal.
For a first-year trader to make 187 pips a day may not be possible. Some of our advanced traders are making 187 pips a day, so that’s a lot.
The FXChief talks about a weekly 300 to 500 pip gain being a realistic goal. We’re not talking of daily goals, but rather weekly goals. So make sure you take stock of the situation and be real with yourself.
The final step is binding your goal to a time frame and writing it down. Write your goals down twice a day, in the morning and evening. This idea is actually taken from a book that I read years ago and it got me into the habit of keeping a journal
One of my favorite lines to say is, “Think in ink.” Write your goals down. Don’t have a goal saved in your head. Don’t hide your goal somewhere on your cell phone. Get “old school.” Take a pen and paper and place your written goal somewhere that will remind you often.
What types of investments are best for traders with short-term goals of less than one year?
Bishop: The actual question you need to ask yourself is “What type of trader do I need to be to hit my short-term goals?”
Some people look at that question and it all really depends on what your short-term goals are. If your short-term goal is to take $500 and turn it into $2,500, that’s great. Let’s say you’re going to trade the Forex at 10 cents a pip. Well, let’s do the math. You could get away with making 30 pips a day at 10 cents a pip.
And as long as you have the skillset to net you 30 pips a day, then you’re fine in terms of reaching your goal. In my opinion, you would want to be a trader that takes profit monthly.
If you were trading in the equity market, then you’d be trading options specifically because you wouldn’t be able to reach your goal with a smaller account. So you would need a minimum of $25,000 to achieve this goal, but you might be in and out of weekly options trades.
If you are a cryptocurrency trader, you would try to trade to win the day. And if you’re a Forex trader, you would also trade to win the day to achieve those short-term goals and to capture those small sums. Those strategies are best for targeting goals you plan to achieve in less than a year.
For traders with short-term goals who are investing in the equity realm, I’d say you should trade shorter term options like credit and debit spreads and earnings plays.
If you’re in the Forex realm, then you’re going to want to find a couple of currency pairs that you dedicate yourself to trading. Maybe that means just having one or two pairs that you focus on. There’s nothing out there that says that you have to trade all 28 currency pairs every single day.
You can tell yourself, “Hey, you know what? I’m going to trade a commodity-based currency pair like the NZD/CAD or the GBP/CAD. And that’s all I’m going to trade for this year while I build myself up and try to hit my trading goal.”
What types of strategies are best for setting long-term goals of 5+ years?
Bishop: The investment criteria is different for traders with longer-term goals. You’re rarely ever going to hold a currency pair for three months, six months or a year.
So you’re going to want to do both fundamental and technical analysis and review the outlook of a company stock instead. If you’re setting a longer term goal, then you want to invest in companies that you truly believe in will have slow growth and consistent success.
The thing I always say to my students is to do your homework first. Research the company. Read a 10-K annual report and find that information out so that you know what you’re investing in ahead of time.
Maybe your long-term goal is to take your trading account and to be making $10,000 a month in five years. Well, that’s fine. What’s it going to take to get there? What size account do you need to make $10,000 a month? How many pips can you make on a daily basis?
I’d suggest setting up a performance formula spreadsheet to help you track your goals. Ask yourself, “What is it going to take to get me from point A to point B? What roads do I need to take? What do I need to learn?”
For information on registering for MTI’s investment education webinars, visit https://learn.markettraders.com/pages/how-to-register-for-student-webinars.