Can Automated Forex Trading Systems Really Make Money Consistently?

February 27, 2014 by  
Filed under Automated Forex Trading

Forex profit

Many outlandish claims have been made about automated forex trading systems.  They have been touted as your key to untold riches or an automatic money making machine.  All you need to do is to let it loose on the forex markets, and the profits are yours.

So, are the claims really as good as the reality?  Well, from what I know of the financial markets, and I have been trading the markets for quite sometime, I have to reply with an emphatic “no”.  Automated forex trading systems are no different from a human entering a trade using a certain set of rules.  If your set of rules are flawed, no amount of automation can make it profitable.  But if your set of rules are sound, an automated trading system simply duplicates what you do manually.

In the following paragraphs I would try to give you a better idea of what an automated trading system can and cannot do, so that you can make a better evaluation.

Can an automated forex trading system make money?
Yes, but so can somebody who knows nothing about the forex markets.  Looking at it at its most basic level, trading is simply a decision of whether to buy or to sell.  And you do have a decent chance of being right even if you were to make a random choice.  So, even if an automated trading system was programmed to enter and exit the forex markets at random, it is possible that this system can make money.

Can an automated forex trading system make money consistently?
For the experienced trader, this is the crucial question.  Any trader or automated system, regardless of experience or quality, can make money over a period of time.  This period of time is profitable as the set of trading rules used might be suitable for the trading environment at the time.  However, as soon as the character of the market changes, so will the profitability of the trading system or trader.  More often than not, I suspect that the portfolio will suffer a drastic change in fortunes, from mildly profitable to losing serious money.

Financial markets go through trending and non trending phases.  To judge if an automated forex trading system can profit consistently, you have to trade the system through both phases of the market and the net result must be profitable.

The automated trading system performs great on past data.  It’s going to make me a ton of money, right?
You wish.  While I can’t speak for all trading systems, I can confidently say that the statement is absolutely false for most automated systems.  As a computer programmer, I know that it is not difficult to come up with a set of rules that can fit any set of past data so that the system buys and sells at just the right time.  Look at it as having the benefit of hindsight.

But, in all probability, the set of rules inferred would tend to be too well fitted to the data, and does not have any real predictive power when applied to trading in real time.

If an automated forex trading system is profitable, why do their programmers want to sell it and not trade it themselves?
Call me a cynic but I have the following answers for you:
– As traders themselves, they know that their system can trade very profitably during certain phases of the market, but will fail miserably during other phases.  And they know that the system will probably generate a net loss over the long run.
– Their trading system was created to be sold.  Everything about the system has been optimized to make it look good, but it is really quite useless in actual trading.

Conclusion
Don’t buy into the hype surrounding automated forex trading systems.  While they do have their advantages, they are not automatic avenues to wealth.  You can use them to fine tune your system or to automate trades, but ultimately, whether you make money consistently in the forex markets depends on only one thing, namely you..