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Are You a System Trader or Discretionary Trader?

By Admiral Markets

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Dear Traders,

Have you ever wondered whether you are a system trader or a discretionary trader? And more importantly, how do you as a trader actually find out which style suits you better?

This article promises to help traders find their own path, story and answers. A short quiz at the end will also help you decide whether you are more of a discretionary trader or system trader.

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What is a System trader?

A system trader is a trader who follows precise rules. The trading plan is robust and has covered (almost) all aspects in a set of predefined rules. The system could be executed both automated and manually.

Automated trading, also known as algorithmic trading, is of course a well known example of system trading but
creating and choosing an automated trading system is not a simple task (more on a fractal based system coming soon).

The main task for the system trader is to follow the rules, period. This is true regardless of whether the execution is manually or automated. In most cases, there is no second-guessing or re-analysing.

Simply said, if the trader deviates from the trading plan, then they are breaking the system rules.


A |4316cb6442cbc3f403187f92b5759024| is a trader that analyses first and acts second. Their goal is dissect the market structure before setting up a specific plan tailor adjusted to the specific circumstances of the moment.

For instance, when I complete my Fibonacci and
wave analysis at Admiral Markets, I am using a discretionary trading system for tackling three US Dollar pairs in the Forex market.

The trading plan should specify how the analysis is performed, which indicators and tools are used, and how entries are made. But it also allows more space for making decision on a case-by-case basis.

Filters are frequently used to skip trade setups that are determined as weak. Here below is a video how to design a trading system based on discretionary methods.


Both system trading and discretionary trading are well-known methods for tackling the Forex and financial markets but they have different advantages and capabilities.

Here’s an overview of some the pros and cons but feel free to add your own thoughts in the comment section at the bottom.


  1. Traders can focus on execution without overthinking the analytical part of trading.
  2. Traders can quickly measure whether the system itself is profitable (40 trades gives a good first impression)


  1. Less opportunity to use the market structure, Elliott Wave theory and patterns for trading decisions.
  2. Traders can over focus on optimizing a Forex trading strategy, on finding the best entries, and skipping the required testing on the timing of exits.


  1. Traders have more flexibility when tackling the Forex and financial markets and can adjust their trading plan to the market structure of the day or week.
  2. Traders can focus on the opportunities that offer the best value in terms of reward to risk ratio versus win percentage.


  1. Traders might be less decisive when action is needed to take entries. They might keep analysing which could lead to paralysis of analysis.
  2. Traders might feel less confident during the setup and second doubt their analysis and trade plan.

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This is the ultimate question because both styles are perfectly fine. It is, however, vital that you choose a style that suits you and fits your trading personality.

This is partly a process of discovery and building up experience. Traders need to try out both styles by actually (
demo) trading to understand which one matches best.

Furthermore, the preference can |a570d1903be7f95339046d1ea84e4125|substantially over time. This is a natural process so do not be alarmed. For instance, as a full-time employee, you might prefer a rules based system but during your retirement you might start to prefer discretionary trading.

There are a couple of clues that could help you out with a first orientation.


A beginning trader is probably best advised to start with a rules based system. There are many decisions that need to be made during discretionary trading and often beginners miss the experience to take trading decisions with confidence due to lack of experience. Building up experience has its ups and downs but as a rule of thumb, discretionary trading often does get easier with more experience.


A trader with more time on their hand can analyse the charts in more detail and more depth, thus allowing discretionary trading to thrive. A trader with little spare time to analyse the financial markets could be better off with system trading.


People who often
or never change their minds might struggle with discretionary trading. Of course, this is just a rough guideline. Yet there is a lot of validity to the idea that discretionary trading requires a healthy balance of both confidence and critical thinking. Discretionary traders cannot change their opinion each and every minute but they cannot blindly stick to a trade forever, either.


Discretionary trading is like being a detective and solving a mystery or puzzle. These traders need to take into account various bits of information before deciding whether they want to trade and how they want to trade (the plan). System traders are more reactionary focused and are not so keen on enjoying the labor of analysing.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with applying both styles at the same time. Just make sure to track and evaluate them.

If you are looking for system trading, then please join our free Zero to Hero course at the bottom or our
live webinars. Soon I will also share more information how traders can build an automated trading system based on fractals.

If you are looking for discretionary trading, then we invite you to our
analytical page and online webinars, too.

Cheers and safe trading,

Chris Svorcik

Senior Analyst

Admiral Markets

Zero to Hero Trading Course
Article by Admiral Markets

Source: Are You a System Trader or Discretionary Trader?

Admiral Markets is a leading online provider, offering trading with Forex and CFDs on stocks, indices, precious metals and energy.


Click Here For Original Source Of The Article

About Louie Lewis

Louie Lewis
Successful forex trading starts with you first. Then comes the actual strategies and techniques. I have been involved with forex and forex trading for a few years now. It is a wonderful way to build wealth. The learning never stops and I want to help others along their journey into this wonderful market of opportunity.

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