Jennifer Thornburg is a successful Forex trader who runs several Forex websites. She will be speaking at the Futures and Forex Expo in Las Vegas, along with DailyForex senior analyst Huzefa Hamid. Learn more about the expo here.
1 – How long have you been trading Forex?
I took my first trading class in 2001. I traveled around the country, learned techniques and trading systems from lots of different people and, I read a lot of books on currency trading. I spent six years before making the transition from student to trader, which is difficult to do for various reasons.
I enjoy trading, but I really enjoyed learning trading systems. For me, being a Forex student was fun, and being a Forex trader is work. I have mixed and matched tools and indicators, learned systems, done it right, done it wrong, and mixed everything in between. I made tons of money, I lost tons of money, I spent tons of money learning, and committed a huge part of my life to a bunch of charts. I even quit a few times; deleted all my charts, vowed I’d never waste another hour or another dollar trying to figure it out, convinced it was all a sham… That didn’t last long before I was back in the chair, re-creating charts, and luring myself in with another book or trading system.
I know mine is a common story. At the end of all that I have traded live with several different trading systems and private mentors. Hours of practice, study and implementation resulted in a few discoveries. Some trading strategies are fun even though they aren’t reliable. I wasted time arguing with the results. Some were time consuming, the results were reliable, but my schedule was not. I traded a pivots methodology that was impressive, turning hundreds of pips at a time, but the draw-down was fatiguing and stressful and literally damaging to my health. The interesting part of my story is that the whole time, through all the systems and techniques, I kept some version of my Combo chart in some corner of my computer that I would refer to whenever I was stuck. Looking back I can see the one tried and true, the one simple and unsophisticated, is the one I used when I really wanted to know what I should do. I finally grew up enough to realize… That’s the One! And I’ve built my current trading plans all around this one simple charting technique that I call the Combo.
2 – How did you first get interested and involved with the currency market?
I wish I could tell you I have a long history in stocks and options and there was a sophisticated progression into currencies. The truth is, I didn’t have any trading experience at all before I set out to learn Forex. My story is kind of funny, though. In 1990 I was traveling in Hong Kong, and I met a man in a currency exchange office while I was standing in line waiting to turn in my U.S. dollars for the local currency. He was ahead of me in line, and when he finished his business at the counter he turned to me and said, “Go home, kid. It’s a bad day to sell your U.S. dollars.” I had no idea what he was talking about, and went ahead with my transaction. Later on I found out he went in that office every week with hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, and he “traded” his currency back and forth for a profit in that local office. He was a few years ahead of his time, and I never forgot about him.
3 – How many hours a day do you trade?
That varies from day to day. I’m reliably at my computer doing my analysis every morning from 5:30 am to about 8:30 am. I plan out my trades, and post all my analysis and setups in a blog on my website. That’s the work part of trading. Once I have my trading plans figured out, I don’t have to sit with my charts anymore the rest of the day. If I have entry orders in for my trade setups, I can check rates on my phone throughout the day and see if my trades are getting close to opening or not. If they are, then I stay close to my computer or phone until I get them safely set to break-even, and then I’m free to leave and do other things in my day. Most of my trade management can be done from my mobile phone. To answer your question, I spend at least 2 to 3 hours every day working up my analysis and planning my trades. The actual “trading” doesn’t take much time at all.
4 – During what session/s?
I live in California, so my main trading session is the U.S. session, which starts at 5 am for me. I do like the Asian session too, which is in the late afternoon for me, because it moves the market just enough to help me solidify my trading plans ahead of the European session which, of course, is the most active trading session, but it’s when I’m sleeping.
5 – What strategies do you use? Why?
I use a strategy I call the Combo Trade, which is planned out from the daily and 4 Hour charts. It’s very simple, using freely available indicators such as moving averages, MACD and RSI. I like simple slow moving charts, and fast moving trades that go to profit quickly. Trade potential is identified on my longer-term charts long before the trade entries come, so I always have plenty of time to think about it. This removes a lot of the emotion from trading. When my setups finally trigger an entry, it’s all very normal.
6 – What are your favorite currency pairs? Why?
I watch about 6 to 8 pairs at a time. I do change them out sometimes, but for the most part, I try to stick with the same pairs for several months at a time before swapping them out for other pairs. I think the key to technical analysis is to limit my analysis to the same pairs and the same time frames for lengths of time, so that I am familiar with how they move and how they interact with the indicators. The more time I spend on one thing, the better I am able to put market movements in context for making solid repeatable trading decisions. Trading is about visual recognition skills. If I bounce around from time frames and different pairs and different indicators, it takes a lot longer to have any context for anything repeatable.
Currently I’m trading: EUR/USD, GBP/USD, NZD/JPY, USD/CAD, GBP/CAD, AUD/USD, and AUD/CAD.
7 – How did you come up with the ideas for Piptoring.com and Jennifer.bz? When?
After blogging for about a year, I started blogging with Rob Booker at Piptoring.com. The word “piptoring” came about as we were exploring for pips or … piptoring. My Jennifer.bz site was created for my online course. “BZ” was a nickname some of my trader-friends called me. Because of my focus and intention to be “calm” when I trade, I was called a Zen-trader, then Zen-Friend. From there I was Zen-Jen, Zennifer, Best-Zen-Friend, and finally just BZ. There’s not much more to the story than that.
8 – How did you meet your partner, Rob Booker?
I met Rob when I took a trading course from him in 2005. I took several classes from him, and of course, read all his books. I have great regard for Rob Booker’s work and his trading style. He is very good at helping people take all their knowledge and become traders. We traded together, and I worked as a consultant for him. We work well together and have a similar approach to trading. He is the one who encouraged me to write my trading strategy into a course to share with others.
9 – You are quite well-known for your article about sex and Forex – is this notoriety among serious traders?
I did write that Sex And Trading article for serious traders. It’s a little bit funny, but it’s not a joke. There’s nothing like a familiar subject to get us all on the same page! If you put a little time and planning into what’s most important, you can be great at trading and be great at everything else in your life too.
10 – How many traders do you coach regular basis (ie, how many do you advise regularly, or how many follow your trade recommendations)? How do you deal with the stress and pressure of being responsible for other people’s money?
I currently have 136 students who follow my trade setups. My online course is made up of self-serve lessons and archived webinars. Students have access to my private blog where I post all my setups, trade entries, and trade management. It’s helpful when people are learning my trading system, but in short time they truly don’t need my input anymore. My goal is not to have traders be dependent on me, but to help them use the tools on their charts to find and manage their own trades.
I do not like the stress of running a signal service. I find that if throws me off with my own trades because I become worried about the signals I’m sending out for others. But the fact is, I’m not in that business. I do want to help traders as much as I can so I do make trade recommendations in my morning notes. I help traders get a good start with my trading system, but my students are actually picking trades faster than I am after about the first month. So we all win!
11 – In your opinion, what is the biggest advantage of Forex trading? The biggest disadvantage?
The biggest advantage is that it is a 24-hour market, and there are strategies that traders can use that fit into any schedule. No matter who you are, what level of education you have, where you live in the world, or how much time you have to trade, there is a trading strategy that you can employ from your computer to make a profit.
The biggest disadvantage is that there is no personal accountability. No one is going to force you to become a good trader. You don’t have a boss, you won’t get fired, you don’t have to report to anyone about why you took a trade. A lot of people enter into what I call “random trading.” Win or lose, it’s all random, and the end result is usually a poorly developed money management plan, and an account balance that isn’t growing. When you have to be great, you are, so the secret to success is to find a way to keep track of what you’re doing, so you can do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
12 – What advice would you give traders who are just starting out?
Learn as much as you can about trading. Learn how to use indicators, strategies and setups. Learn how to use different time frames, long-term and short-term. Have a blast!
Set a date at which time the learning ends and the trading begins. Have fun while you’re “in school” but know the day is coming when you’ll be trading live money, and that’s not so fun. When you’re ready to trade live, keep a notebook handy and write down every trade you take. Clearly explain why you took it and how it ended. Give definitive reasons for every trading action. Then remember to re-read your notes every week, and you’ll find that your own trading notebook is your greatest trading teacher.
Be calm. Trade well.