Financial trading: learning the basics

Finding your feet in trading can take quite a while. Most successful traders keep learning throughout their careers and say that it takes them at least a couple of years to really get on top of things – but when it comes to learning the basics that you need to get started in each area, it shouldn’t take that long at all. There are several approaches you can take to develop your knowledge and start building your trading skills.

Formal education

Most people who go into formal trading jobs working for big companies start by getting degrees in subjects like business, finance or economics, all of which can encompass some of the skills used in trading. Although this isn’t usually practical for people who just want to trade for themselves, there are lots of short courses you can take to develop your abilities. Online organizations like EdX and Coursera makes access to this kind of education easy – it’s often free and it’s easy to fit around your working day.

Finding trustworthy sources

When you’re trying to learn online, how can you be sure that the sources you use can be trusted? After all, there are lots of people out there pushing their own scams, and there are also any number of articles that are simply ill-informed. It’s important to make sure that you learn from reputable websites, so look out for recommendations and reviews and pay particular attention to warnings. It’s also a good idea to read the trade press, which may seem obscure at first but often features articles aimed at beginners.

Learning from your broker

Many brokers offer extensive educational programs to their clients. These may take the form of online videos, written guides, FAQs or live streamed question and answer sessions. It’s also becoming increasingly common for brokers to offer demo accounts where you can try out the things you learn without having to risk real money. You may also have the option of following what expert traders are doing and learning by example. These approaches let you see something of how theory can play out in practice.

Learning from the community

Following trading forums, whether through your broker or elsewhere on the internet, gives you the chance to connect with more experienced traders and ask questions. It can be particularly helpful if you’re struggling to understand basic aspects of trading and you need them to be explained in a different way. Remember, however, that not everyone you may meet in such places has your best interests at heart. It’s best to look for consensus and learn from what groups of people say rather than trusting individuals, and you should be wary of anyone offering supposedly foolproof systems or short cuts to success.

Getting to grips with trading involves learning quite a bit of terminology and this can feel daunting at first. Once you get past that, however, the basic concepts are not as difficult as you might think. It won’t be long before you’re ready to embark on your trading career.

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