What the ‘Million Dollar Trader’ can teach us about trading..

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Anton Kreil is a trader, instructor, director of the “Institute of Trading” – a private organisation despite the institutional-sounding name – and something of a delta celebrity, after appearing on a U.K reality TV programme, called “Million Dollar Trader,”, in which he and a Dutch Hedge Fund Manager called Lex Van Dam, created what could be described as a made-for-TV bastardised version of Richard Dennis’s famous Turtle Trader experiment, in which Dennis bet a friend he could take a handful of people off the street, who knew nothing about trading, and turn them into multi-millionaire traders in a matter of weeks.

Where Dennis succeeded by showing the Turtles a simple method trading Donchian channel breakouts, Kreil and Van Dam spectacularly failed, as most of the traders in MDT made losses and the winner of the competition only made a 1.0% return in the 2-months that the experiment lasted – none certainly made the kinds of triple digit returns of Dennis’s original turtles. This may be because the traders in the show seemed to buy on fundamentals alone where as Dennis’s turtles used a trend-following technical system.

The experiment coincided with the 2008 financial crisis, in which stocks went through the floor, and some of the most dramatic scenes in the series show traders struggling with large losing positions and Kreil sometimes having to intervene to prevent yet more haemorrhaging.

Kreil finds it hard to hide his disdain for some of the contestants, who come from a variety of backgrounds, but don’t have anything approaching his level of expertise. Kreil was formerly a star-trader at Goldman Sachs – a fact which he seems to mention at almost every available opportunity on the internet – and he clearly has a low regard for the beta tragedies sent by Lex for him to tutor in the series mock mini city trading-floor hothouse.

A make-no-bones materialist Kreil thinks even friends can be bought – as a competition he ran on his facebook page attests. The former Goldman’s trader offered to put anyone who was willing to make him a friend into a prize-draw, to win a holiday to his alpha-luxury bachelor pad in Phuket. Surprisingly it worked and Anton ‘ForReal’ gained hundreds of new friends as a result.

He then videoed himself drawing the winner out of a hat with three of his flunkeys in the city – you can watch it on youtube. In his trademark staccato presentation style, with its just-beneath-the-surface clench-teethed grit, he sounds and even looks – with his throw-back 80’s Gordon Gecko gelled hair – like death addressing all his friends in hell. “And – the – winner – of – the – competition – is…”

Still, what can Kreil, the supposed ‘master trader’ – who when asked which brought him more money, trading or training, said: “trading by far,” – teach a mere mortal like me – what advice can we glean from his many appearances in interviews on the internet, without actually signing up for one of his £2000 plus trading courses?

Kreil’s advice on trading the financial markets:

Trade like a pro:

Kreil’s ethos is to teach the retail trader how to trade using the same methodology as the professional institutional trader. I think the drawback of this is that it seems to rely heavily on fundamentals and arbitrage, and whilst it is useful to use these techniques, from the comparison already made with Dennis’s purely technical approach, which worked well, trading on Fundamentals alone can be dangerous from the perspective of timing.

Forget the technicals

As already mentioned Kreil does not seem to use technicals at all. In fact he once remarked disparagingly that he could not see how anyone could be successful trading lines and squiggles on a chart. Kreil is a firm Fundamentalist. Personally I think its just as dangerous to trade on pure fundamentals as on pure technicals – wither way you are trading with an ‘eye patch’ covering one of your eyes.

Don’t over trade

According to Kreil and his institute gurus, one of the main reasons why so many Retail Traders fail is over-trading. His philosophy goes along the lines of instead of making 10 mediocre trades – just make four really good ones without the other six rubbish ones – so in a nutshell: discriminate & eliminate. I have heard this many times before and I too think it is very valid, and one of the main keys to trading success.

Ideas, ideas, ideas

Part of his method involves thinking outside the box and across different sectors – so for example if the shares of a car manufacturer started to make losses after poor earnings results, what related industries might this affect? Are there key suppliers of engine-parts which this might have a knock on effect on, pushing down their share price, could these be shorted effectively? Might the manufacturer’s main competitors share price rise as a result of the poor performance of its rival? It’s that sort of approach.

Know your stuff

According to Kreil and his mentor buddies most retail traders don’t understand where they sit in the complex financial eco-system. This means they don’t always understand why various parts of the system suffer from a conflict of interest, how this impacts on prices and how the broker they are trading with fits into the whole financial feeding-chain. As a result they can easily get gobbled up by larger beasties. If you go on one of Kreil’s institute seminars one of his guys will teach you all about your place in the system – as well as other info, and, what’s more the seminar’s are for free and held all around the world.

The take-away: Trade like ‘ForReal’ or slip on a banana peel?

If Anton was asked to vouch for Anton I don’t think he would. In Million Dollar Traders he does not come across as a star trader, he wasn’t exactly overflowing with pearls of wisdom to aid contestants, or appear to shine by imparting his wisdom on the markets to novices – rather he seemed quite bewildered by the crashing stock market. Of course it wasn’t him on trial, but he just didn’t seem to give off that star quality, or knowledge.

We have never seen Anton’s trading records so how can we be certain he is as successful as he claims.

The fact he eschews technical analysis so much concerns me – in my opinion you need both to trade markets properly.

On the one hand he says good traders have excellent in built lie detectors and yet in one interview online, he said he left London after Million Dollar Traders because: “everyone wanted to be my friend.” A rather tall-sounding tale given the bad press ex-bankers had at the time due to the financial crisis – more likely the opposite.

And if everyone wanted to be your friend Anton why are you buying friends on Facebook?

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About Author

I am a forex analyst, trader and writer. I have had a career writing articles for websites and journals, starting in the travel sector and then in Forex. I use a combination of technical and fundamental analysis in my forecasting. When I joined Forex4you in 2010 I thought it was a great opportunity to work as an analyst for an international broker. I provide technical forecasts with clear entry points and targets as well as articles on fundamental and trading themes. Good luck and happy trading!