So, you are in the market for a third party signal provider. The maximum draw down of the trader is your first step in the selection process. To define the maximum draw down - this is the gap between the ultimate amount of loss between the absolute top and the absolute bottom. Included in this number is also the open positions, but not included is the account margin necessary to keep you away from a margin call. How much is too much of a draw down you may well ask. Of course, like many answers to many questions, it is - That depends. Many, many issues need to be examined when coming up with an answer to this very important question. It goes without saying that a person with an account in the high thousands of dollars can stand more of a draw down than a person with a much smaller account. So, that being said, what are some other things to consider?
Another thing to look at aside from the actual number is how that number came to be. If a trader has a draw down that is too high for you to tolerate but otherwise seems to trade well, you should look at how many positions he opens at a time. If that trader opens 5 trades on any given pair at a time you can instantly cut their historical draw down by 5. Limiting the # of open trades for a trader could drastically reduce the overall draw down.
Sometimes you will find a trader who has a great track record aside from one major meltdown where a single trade ran out of control for days unchecked. This will produce an abnormal draw down in relation to the trader's real ability. He may be the kind of guy who can't recognize when a trade has no chance of coming back to even. He may also be a guy who lost his internet connection at an inopportune time once or twice. Either way you can keep this trader from doing this to your account by setting your own stops for him. Just make sure that you only stop out his trades that are well out of a realistic trading range.
At this point, we are going to visit again our original question. Now that you have accomplished all you can to limit draw down, I will caution you by saying any amount over 35% of your total account equity is way overdoing it. If you let yourself become in a situation where a 50% plus loss is incurred, coming back from it would involve some extremely risky behavior. A 50% loss demands a 100% gain just to get back on the level.
Another item to look for when considering draw down is the history (or lack of history) available on the trader(s) you are researching. You want to uncover as much history as possible so you may determine how he handles himself when things get rough, because they are sure to do so.
Also remember to constantly monitor your traders on both a live and demo account. If their draw down gets out of hand it may be time to reevaluate or completely remove that trader from your portfolio.
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