Major Futures Market Player: These are the 5 Traits of a Successful Trader

Posted by TopstepTrader on October 23, 2017

This week, in our series of insights from Jack Schwager's Market Wizards, we look at Gary Bielfeldt, a trader that built a fortune and became one of the largest players in the U.S. Treasury futures market. (Read our last post about Tony Saliba's streak of 70 consecutive months with more than $100,000 in gains)

Gary Bielfeldt was one of the largest players in futures markets, honing a specific niche in U.S. Treasury Bonds. But his trading career started the same way many normal futures traders do: with a $1,000 investment in a brokerage account. At the core to Bielfeldt's success is the fact that he "does not believe in diversification," according to Jack Schwager's Market Wizards.

That is becoming a common theme as many of TopstepTrader's funded traders have found success by trading in one or two products. But, Bielfeldt's best advice came on the subject of the traits of a successful trader. 


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Here are the five traits:

  1. Discipline: This is Bielfeldt's overwhelming number one most important trait of a successful trader. Since Bielfeldt says that most traders lose because they overtrade and therefore have to be right a lot just to make up for commissions. By being more disciplined and choosing spots wisely, you are able to be profitable with a 50-60% win percentage.

  2. Patience: This may initially seem repetitive, but when Bielfeldt says patience, he means the ability to stay with a good trade. Since in Bielfeldt's view, winning trades are hard to come by, it becomes important not too jump out too soon. As day traders, we certainly have a different view on the length of time that you would be patient, but the idea that good traders let trades develop can resonate regardless of your timeframe.

  3. Courage: Bielfeldt says that "you need courage to go into the market, and courage comes from adequate capitalization." But don't confuse this with the idea that you should trade bigger than your capitalization. Bielfeldt discourages that tendancy and reminds traders that if they get too far behind, they will have trouble recouping what they lost. 

  4. Willingness to lose: This could also be rephrased as the ability to bounce back. Bielfeldt doesn't believe that a losing trade is the same as a bad trade - and therefore it shouldn't get you down. He said, "You should have the attitude that if a trade loses, you can handle it without any problem and come back to do the next trade." 

  5. Strong desire to win: For Beilfeldt and many other successful traders, trading is not about making money; it's about winning. But it's also not about being right on any single trade. 

What do you think of these five traits? Have any questions or recommendations? Put them in the comments below.

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Topics: Trading Basics, Trading Lessons, Market Wizards