thomas-barmannGerman born, professional trader Thomas Barmann lives and works in New Jersey and Florida and has been trading various securities since 1982. Thomas has built his own trading system: NeverLossTrading, which he likes to call “algorithmic trading with human interaction”. He built the system for himself but has been sharing it since 2008, when he started his trading education business NeverLossTrading; where he helps traders spot and follow institutional money moves.

In this show Thomas talks us through:

  • How you can combine day and swing trades
  • The commodity he avoids trading
  • His statistical analysis of candlestick patterns & standard indicators
  • How he targets 100%+ return a year
  • Important insights on big institutions and how you can profit from them

Interview

10: Thomas Barmann Shares His Unique Trading Strategy That Nets Over 100% Per Year
00:00:00 00:00:00

Recommended book

How I Made $2,000,000 in the Stock Market, by Nicolas Darvas

Trading style

Day trading, Swing Trading

Trading platform & broker

eTrade

Biggest retail trader mistake

Gambling mentality. They don’t have a system they can follow repetitively. Their expectations are set too as to how far the price will expand and they put too much at risk.

Interview links

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Transcript highlights

Cam Hawkins:

Tell us more about you personally, and give the listeners more detail about your trading. What you’re trading, how you’re trading it and the kind of results you see?

Thomas Barmann:

What I do outside of trading. I have a lot of interest in travelling, cultures and the super thing about trading is it allows us to be wherever we want to be as long as there is a good internet connection and time wise, we always can arrange. So right now I’m visiting family in Europe and trading allows me to do so, because I’m not tied to a working place where somebody else tells me what I have to do when. I can do that all from a computer, and with modern technology it gives us a lot of independence. So, I’m a father of two children, married. They’re going to turn 18, so what does it mean with them both turning 18 – I have twins. My son’s name is John and my daughter’s name is Michelle.

Trading. Maybe we start where I started with trading. I did my first trading at the age of 22. A private investor always, I’ve never been in a trading business or been employed by and institution. I was always a private investor. How did I come to it? Basically, at that point in time I worked in Summers (6-8 weeks) and I had good money on an assembly line. Where I worked, I got to know somebody who invested. He was maybe 7-8 years older than me and the others cracked up laughing saying “Oh my God, he’s trying to be rich”. I asked him what he was doing and he came back with statements. I saw it was real, and thought “Man, that’s a good idea because I made a lot of money in the summer as a young person. Why not invest it and let it work for you?”. And this is how I came to trading. I just tried things out at the beginning, I got my self some education and then more and more education, trying to learn things. My first failure came when I did what the guy from the bank said. And so I thought “Ok, I need to have a system I can rely on and repetitively do something that is meaningful. Then I rather take the risk than listen to the person from the bank.”

Today I trade various markets. I like the futures markets. I like to trade the Stock market, in particular Options. Returns vary. I’m doing a mix between day trading and swing trading. So I’m not holding positions for very long. So, with swing trading the average time of a position is about 5 days. On day trading the position size I take is about 5 bars. It’s always around the 5 and it’s usually not longer than 10. So, therefore I’m much more in shorter term and then it depends on the asset you trade. I’ll give you an example. If I do an Option trade I set it up so it is giving me at least about a 35% return. When I do a futures trade it depends on what future it is and its volatility. So it can be a very high return short term or a medium return depending on how far the asset moves. So it’s a very big difference trading Gold and the S&P500 Eminis. Two different volatility products. When Gold moves it moves very fast. The S&P can move fast but it’ by far but it’s not that much. It’s also expressed in the margin that’s required. Silver, I don’t like to trade personally. It’s a very wild horse and I always try to be risk contained. When you trade  a stock, I’m looking for returns of about 2% in about 5 days. So, you’ll have to add it up throughout the year but on the other hand, you’re not always getting every trade right. Even so, I have  a high probability trading system I use. There is also usually a chance you get one wrong. And that’s why I built that name Never Loss Trading, because I developed mechanics of how you can basically adjust every stock trade and every Option trade if it goes wrong to make half the potential loss or to make no loss. I trademarked it in 2008. So, 2% on the Stock, 35% on the Options, and an average return on a futures trade is about 10% per trade. Then it depends on the timeframes that you trade, making the returns out of this. I work against a minimum budget, and when I’ve got it I’ve got it and I’ll move even slower depending on what the market allows. Trading is like fishing. The thing is, you can’t go on Monday morning and say “I want to trade”. The market allows us to trade. The signals come up on the screen and then I take them. If there is no signal I can’t force the market to give me money, because then I would take an excessive risk, which I don’t like to do.

I do Forex trading to. I’d rather prefer to trade the futures. So, like the Australian dollar futures. Why do I do that? Because I have much better information on volume. The volume information on Forex is not that high so I often look parallel to what the futures are doing when I do a Forex trade. I focus on 8 Forex pairs which I trade and I take reference to certain futures so I see both sides. The price development and the volume development side by side.

From a return perspective I’m looking at return rates of above 100% from the money invested.

Cam Hawkins:

Go back in time now and tell us what first attracted you to trading and talk us through that very first trade you took?

Thomas Barmann: 

For my first trades I looked at a newspaper and there was a stock with a high price, like $1000. “Wow man, I can’t afford this one”. But then I saw it had an Option. “Oh, an option”. So I gave myself basic education about what it was. So, then I started to trade that Call Option. I brought it, sold it, brought it, sold it. Made tic-tac-toe, in and out and it worked! At that point in time you couldn’t do it electronically because you talk about 1982. So I had to walk to the bank, fill out the statement. They didn’t take me too serious as a 22 year old. Only after a series of very good trades the guy really started to talk to me and he talked me into a bad trade. And, I said, “He doesn’t know what he’s doing, he’s just selling me from a little flyer he had on his desk and it’s good for the bank, not good for me.” So, therefore I made that change and started to build up a system and a system I have followed for a long time. With new computer technology for me the world changed when you were able to make vector graphics displaying. So, now we are at par or even better than all these institutions out there. Goldman Sachs doesn’t know more about the market. They may have more background information but we are so much in the position, as private investors, to see what’s going on and act on it.

Cam Hawkins:

Let’s go back to a dark time in your trading career, a point where you hit rock bottom, a trade that kept you awake for a week, an account that you blew in a matter of days or even minutes. We want to hear that story.

Thomas Barmann:

I took education and read books and it was always easy, what people explained. Particularly moving averages. You have two moving averages crossing over and you find that in Bollinger Bands, CCI indicator, all of them. But they’re all lagging so you get into a trade too late and you get out too late. So you’re too late on two sides and so therefore it’s not a very successful strategy. It has a positive outlook, but if you don’t have a good risk containment, you’ll suffer. But the worst trades I did when you had very little time. You know, I was running a big company with 2500 employees, that wasn’t in the best financial shape and I wanted to move that on. So I was travelling around the world doing things besides trading. I had my money with the broker who didn’t pay much attention and then I suffered 2000 investment losses because I had a good part of my investment with my broker and I had no time to look after them because I was around. So, what’s the learning out of that? If you trade, care about what you do, don’t let others care about it, so therefore the world changed since eTrade (I think in ’98 was my first eTrade account). Then I could do many more things on my own and took full on responsibility. Listening to others is a bad way of trading, listening to the big stock market tips is a bad way of trading. Look at the charts, see what’s going on. Find a system that’s successful and follow it.

Cam Hawkins: 

Did you have any experience working in financial institutions?

Thomas Barmann:

Not that I worked there but I looked at people who were successful. Tried to meet them and learned from them what I can learn. Living in New Jersey, just 1 hour away from New York city, it’s easy to meet people over time to learn from. The same I did in other cities. I met traders who worked in London. I sit down with them, I let them tell me how it is, what they do and I take my notes afterwards to capture it and I see what I can build into the system. Sometimes it’s risk management, it’s not always entries and exits. The big institution, the banks work differently. But it is, “How is your decision making?”, “How is your documentation?”. When you are a trader, what does your risk manager say to you if you get out of the boundaries you had agreed upon? These are very instrumental things that you have to see as a private trader, you have to replicate one way of the other, what the institutions are doing. So, therefore you have to dive into the institution to understand what is the process when there is a trader who executes, in the name of the bank, something and what is his support network? What I was learning from meeting with all these people was: What is the support network and how can I translate that into actions, we as private investors can do, and do it repetitively? Documentation, statistics. What worked, what didn’t work. How does it come out? Risk management. What are your risk management guidelines and rules? Trade mechanics. How do you prepare, how do you setup, how do you know what to trade in the morning when it goes on? Business plan. What do you strive for? How much money do you want to make? What’s the action plan? What are the assets? All that structure I learned from the institutions. Wow, that’s good. That’s not common. Because most private investors take a gambler mentality. So, all in and they see if it works. That’s not a good strategy.

Cam Hawkins: 

Right, let’s flip this 180 now. Can you talk us through that specific time when everything fell into place. Your big “ah-ha” moment. That point in time you started to become a successful trader – What did you do differently? Who did you learn from? That sort of story…

 

Thomas Barmann:

At times it was easy. When I started in 82-87, everything went up. You had nothing to do. The system was not even needed. The market was perfect. You could write a book of how to make money on the stock market and it still wouldn’t work because you can’t replicate it. So, when the markets are good and the conditions, and you trade with the conditions… that’s also telling us something. Trade with the conditions of the market and do it continuously and repetitively. So, the bad times come when you have a system that you follow that doesn’t adjust to the market because the market constantly changes. Like it did in ’87 I was lucky because I was busy doing things so I was not highly invested when the market got a big hit. I was lucky because I was mostly in cash and nothing happened to me. It was not because I was wise and could see it coming at the time. I didn’t have the systems in place then. Because you had to have a Reuters terminal. Getting the tape and tape reading. I learned it too. But it’s stupid and boring. Computers can do that for us. Why would you say 87.5, 87.5, 87.5 and you try to memorize that point as a next entry?  The computer displays it on the chart for you today.

So, the key thing is. System, follow it. Use modern technology. Because nobody could win an F1 race with a car from 1934, but many people use a trading system from 1934 and trying to make it a success in 2015.

Cam Hawkins:

Ok. Here’s the last question in this round. What’s been your proudest “moment” since you became a successful trader?

Thomas Barmann: 

When I decided, in 2008, to share my system with others and getting into the education business and the success others have. In particular when I see people in different life circumstances that needed to make money, being young and independent or being retired and still in need of daily money. That I could give them an outlook and perspective to follow a system works for them and over the time it’s made many good students than make a very good living from trading. That makes me proud because that’s what I wanted to do. I opened up that business to share and give something back and give people the opportunity for making money from the comfort of their home and doing that repetitively.

Cam Hawkins:

How long did it take you to go from trading newbie to consistently profitable trader?

Thomas Barmann:

About 15 years and 20,000 hours to develop the system that I have today.

Cam Hawkins: 

What’s your mental approach to trading and what special techniques do you use to keep your emotions in check?

Thomas Barmann:

Preparation, preparation, preparation. Before you go into your day you know what you want to trade and how you want to trade it. It’s an approach like a pro in sports. It’s good preparation and then execution. Just do what you want to do if the market allows.

Cam Hawkins: 

Do you have a success quote you can share; one that resonates with you personally?

Thomas Barmann:

Have a system that displays on your chart and act on it. The thing is, the chart is the thing that will tell you want’s going on. With fundamental preparation it’s much harder to beat the institutions because they are much more intertwined with the companies. They sit on their board. They have proprietary information. Even though they shouldn’t have, but they have it. And when they act, you see it and then you go with it. The big thing is, Institutions leave a track and trace of their action and if it gets confirmed then go with it. Find a way to see what institutions are doing and if you can follow this… you know they’re like an elephant. They’ll leave a trace, you’ll find it and go with it.

Cam Hawkins: 

What’s your recommended “must read” trading book?

Thomas Barmann:

Nicolas Darvas, “How I Made $2,000,000 in the Stock Market”. Why? He shows his dedication in always being up to par with the market, preparing, having a system that he followed. All of that is in it and it’s in a nice life story which a private investor can follow but it also shows the dedication needed to be a successful trader. So I like that very much. And it’s an easy read. It’s not a technical book in itself, from a man who was very successful at the time when he traded.

Cam Hawkins: 

What are your views on automated trading systems, e.g. trading robots?

Thomas Barmann:

I use semi automated trading systems, but I don’t let the computer do the buy side. I call it algorithmic trading with human interaction because out of 400 million different bits of information our brain is used to filter those out, are they important, and with that, the computer is great in preparing those situations for us but we should keep the final judgement. Why do I say that? Why do we have a captain in an airplane? He makes the final judgement of what to do. Computers can’t make that as quick as humans so we can translate this into trading. Computers give us great preparation, having a system displaying on the chart, what’s happening. Final judgement needs to be with you and you need to make it meaningful.

Cam Hawkins: 

What trading related internet resource, like bloomberg.com, do you always use?

Thomas Barmann:

I use my own system, it has scanners it has everything in it. So I only follow my system, and that’s for everybody. I wouldn’t take so many sources like CNBC, Bloomberg or whatever because it’s too much over information. It clutters your brain. Then you no more see the real action that is on the chart. You are rather following what is a pre-defined notion. And institutions have a tendency to give 50% accurate information so you never know what’s really going on.

Cam Hawkins: 

So are you a 100% technical trader?

Thomas Barmann:

Absolutely, 100% technical trader. Look the thing is, if you go to New York and you meet those fantastic MBA’s that work for the big institutions they crack into the details of a balance sheet. On those institutions make a decision: buy or sell. You see it. So why would I want to do all this work against 100’s of people that have a better situation and are suited with more information. So I’d rather leave it all up to technical because the fundamental analysis of the big industry will translate into a technical happening on the chart and this is what  I go with.

I tried everything, I tried fundamental trading, I tried value line. It wasn’t giving me a higher probability than 55% – 56%. I always run everything on statistics. I said, that’s not good enough. I need to get above winning 2 out of 3, so above a 67% attainment rate, because you’ll have to give every trade a certain wriggle room for risk and then it’s still not a guarantee to make money. So there is a lot of things that need to come together for us private investors to move in the right direction. Today we are no more having these high fees. At the beginning of my trading career I always had very high fees.

Cam Hawkins: 

What your preferred trading strategy?

Thomas Barmann:

My own, yeah, that I have developed. Spot and follow institutional money. I can recommend that to almost everybody. Because when an institution goes in the market recognizes. Who are institutions? I differentiate big institutions, those are the proprietary traders, trading their own money, then you have the market makers, they are wonderful institutions to help us recognize when something is going on. Why? Why that? Because you know they make a change in supply. So level 2 is where all the information comes from, then everybody has to pay up or sell down because of the action. If they increase or reduce the supply and within that we are very well suited to pick up what’s going on. The proprietary trader wants to buy something, the gatekeeper (the market maker) is changing their supply. All the followers recognize it with their computer system, and so when they go in it’s a wonderful way of going in. So you go with the crowd, you go out earlier than the crowd leaves, but by calculating how far the price expands and with that, as a private investor, you have a wonderful chance to be faster in. Why faster in? Because you can go all in, all out. We are not buying millions or gazillions of shares of one asset. We have smaller portions that we invest and then we’ll look. The only thing you need to look at when Options trading if per strike price, the volume in your trade is less than 100 then you have to be careful if you want to buy 50 because if you have 50% of the market. That’s the only thing. Options trading needs to be learned from the ground of what it really means based on volumes. So you take the Options trade right so that you are not the market maker because that might not be the best position to be in.

Cam Hawkins:

So you don’t have a specific trading strategy like breakouts or scalping?

Thomas Barmann:

Yeah, because the computer tells me. The computer helps me, on the graphics, to give me the spots where institutions make something. And how to I measure it? In price change, statistical volatility change, volume change. I combine these things together and let it display on the chart and then you’ll see a certain formation that comes up and it’s favorable because that setup is usually hitting above 67% – 75% for example, and I take it. I have a 25% probability from the past for losing that much that I risk and I calculate the minimum amount of money that I expect from the trade and I let the thing fly. I place buy stop OCO order and it’s in it. So I don’t even have to be in front of my computer for a stock or an option trade, it’ll only be executed if those price levels are hit.

Cam Hawkins: 

If you could leave our listeners with one piece of advice what would it be?

Thomas Barmann:

Prepare for your trading. Have a system that you develop on your own or buy a system or get the education. But don’t go in the market without being prepared. There is no little league for trading. Money grow quick, another side of your trade will be taken by a super prepared financial institution.

Cam Hawkins:

What’s the biggest mistake most retail traders make?

Thomas Barmann:

Gambling mentality. They don’t have a system they can follow repetitively, they have too high expectation as to how far the price will expand and they put too much risk in it.

Cam Hawkins: 

What’s your preferred trading platform and why?

Thomas Barmann:

Thinkorswim from TDAmeritrade

Cam Hawkins: 

What does your typical trading day look like?

Thomas Barmann:

It depends. I like to trade the European session. The European session starts at 2:30 at night and usually has some good action til about 5:30 then I take a break, or sleep. Then I’ll be active 7:30. My times are NYT (EST). I’ll go through trying to get into the pre-market happening if I want to or the happening at 9:30. I’ll have orders pre-prepared, buy stop, sell stop, OCO orders that get executed automatically. Then I’ll take some shorter term trades. I like the hourly trade a lot, so if hourly action is on the charts I’ll take some short term trades through the stock market day and then I have my times like at 1pm. I also look what’s going on and usually I’m out at 3pm. 3 o’clock then I start to deplete those positions that are day trading positions. Then starting 4 o’clock I prepare my next day. Scans and reports and put them together and send them to people who subscribe for it. I do it for myself to so I know what to trade the next day.

Cam Hawkins: 

How many trades do you typically have open at one time?

Thomas Barmann:

Usually I try not to have more than 7 trades open. No trade should be able to destroy more than 5% of your account.

Cam Hawkins:

We’d like you to help us find a high probability entry point for our trading system. We already have a market to focus on (namely the S&P500), and we’re looking for specific standard indicators, candlestick formations, market events, those sorts of things… So Thomas, to help us pinpoint high probability setups for our trading system what “3 golden nuggets” can you share with us today?

Thomas Barmann:

On the S&P500 I’ll have my computer shooting those things out. It’s a complicated mathematical algorithm. So, on the S&P500, when you look at it from today’s perspective, so that means now, we’re kind of at a swing point. So mark the high and the low of today and it might give you a good chance to either go to a breakout to the high to make another new high. If the low breaks then we’re going to have a good opportunity to go down to 2110 or 2099 or around there. So this is what I see on the chart. I look at the futures because the S&P500 has many different ways of being judged but a good way of looking at is at the futures. So the futures now are building a kind of cup. So it might be we are at the bottom of the cup, so we either have a breakout to the high side making a new high, or at least see the high of 2134 again. Or if we breakdown people might sell off at that point in time and bring us down to 2099 where we will face another wave of institutional orders. To the down or to the up side. We’ll see when we get there.

I don’t believe anymore in candle formation, Cam. Because I let that run and candle formations have about a 53% probability. Just run 10,000 of them, computer allows this, and you will see if you stick to those major hammer or whatever constellations, you hit it about 53%. So therefore they don’t give you an entry. Bollinger band is 54 – 55% accurate. It’s positive expectation but if you don’t control your risk, then it’s a hard thing to do. So the overall patterns, if things go up they usually challenge the bottom and they challenge the high side. It makes those cups. And if you don’t have a computer program that shows you how they work, that’s what you can look for. And on the way down it makes it the other way around. There is no chart formation that I can show you from here without having an algorithm looking for what’s going on in level 2 and below, that gives you an idea. You will not be able to see it easily on the chart. This is where computer technology comes in and moving averages or Bollinger Bands don’t give you the highest probability setup.

It’s just like a cup, so it has a high it makes a belly, some sell off and it makes a turn. So, we’re at a point where it might go a little deeper or higher. Therefore for today’s candle just try it. Mark that high and low of that candle and we have about 20 points to go – 18 points up or down. That’s not bad. That’s a comfortable situation. To the upside you have about 16 points. When we trade to the downside. If we take 16 up and down and don’t risk so much you might have a good chance to make a good trade.

Cam Hawkins: 

If we were to try and exit a position what would be a technique we could use?

Thomas Barmann:

I let the computer calculate my exit. It looks at the market pressure model and translates it. If you want to take it from the chart, yeah? I would exit slightly below 2134 on the ES and I would exit slightly above 2100.

Cam Hawkins: 

What does your computer use to determine the exit price?

Thomas Barmann:

It is like a market pressure model. When voltage expands it can expand only this much until it gets contained by resistance. So, you have so much flow and when you can translate that from the market pressure. Institutions go into an asset you’ll have a lot of pressure because a lot of people will follow so you get an upside pressure that you can measure this expansion. The same to the downside and you will also know that there will be a counter action of market makers because they have to better their positions or they have to (in both ways) when the price drops down too big, there will be a counter action of the institutions. What will they do? The market maker will reduce supply and with that everybody who has to cover will have to pay up. So you get these nice little spiffs to the upside. When the price comes down hard you’ll just have to look at those points and you can go with them. When the price goes up strong and you see some volume in the change. What will the market maker do? He’ll offer another level of supply, buy back inventory at favorable prices because you see also the demand. And then you’ll get the curve to the upside. So these are underlying momentum’s that I basically measure or look at over years and see that on the chart, but I use the help of computer technology to get direction out of this. Because you know we have the long period of time between 427 and 518-519 where the market was in an ambiguous zone and my programs told me that. What do I do then? I trade shorter term only. I trade hourly charts. So I take no positions. Because if the market is not clear in the position it takes, why should I be invested?

Cam Hawkins: 

Before we wrap up what’s the best way for traders to get hold of you?

Thomas Barmann:

They can get me on the phone, at the office. But, from New Zealand, it might be better to write me at contact at NeverLossTrading.com, or call the office, that’s +1 866 455 4520. Somebody will always be there, east coast time, between 8 and 8. And the rest, I always get back within the same day or within the hour if somebody writes. And to learn the system, if you want to come in and get a personal demonstration I’ll be happy to do that for you. To show you what I do and why because I go live always. You’ll see how many good trades, how many bad trades. You call the action. You say “I want to see the Australian dollar to the US dollar”. Wonderful. You do that. We want to see Apple. We do this. You make the call, you say the time frame you want to trade, I show you what it does.

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Forex, futures and options trading have large potential rewards, but also large potential risk. You must be aware of the risks and be willing to accept them in order to invest in the futures and options markets. Don't trade with money you can't afford to lose. Our website, product contents, and materials are neither a solicitation nor an offer to Buy/Sell futures or options. No representation is being made that any account will or is likely to achieve profits or losses similar to those discussed on our website or in any materials. The past performance of any trading system or methodology is not necessarily indicative of future results. Substantial risk is involved. Forex trading has large potential rewards, but also large potential risk. You must be aware of the risks and be willing to accept them in order to invest in the Forex markets.

Don't trade with money you can't afford to lose. Nothing in our course or any materials or website(s) shall be deemed a solicitation or an offer to Buy/sell futures and/or options. No representation is being made that any account will or is likely to achieve profits or losses similar to those discussed on our site. Also, the past performance of any trading methodology is not necessarily indicative of futures results. Trading involves high risks and you can lose a lot of money.

CFTC RULE 4.41 – HYPOTHETICAL OR SIMULATED PERFORMANCE RESULTS HAVE CERTAIN LIMITATIONS. UNLIKE AN ACTUAL PERFORMANCE RECORD, SIMULATED RESULTS DO NOT REPRESENT ACTUAL TRADING. ALSO, SINCE THE TRADES HAVE NOT BEEN EXECUTED, THE RESULTS MAY HAVE UNDER-OR-OVER COMPENSATED FOR THE IMPACT, IF ANY, OF CERTAIN MARKET FACTORS, SUCH AS LACK OF LIQUIDITY. SIMULATED TRADING PROGRAMS IN GENERAL ARE ALSO SUBJECT TO THE FACT THAT THEY ARE DESIGNED WITH THE BENEFIT OF HINDSIGHT. NO REPRESENTATION IS BEING MADE THAT ANY ACCOUNT WILL OR IS LIKELY TO ACHIEVE PROFIT OR LOSSES SIMILAR TO THOSE SHOWN.