After 20 years in Accountancy, Valeria Bendarik left her job to dedicate herself to trading. "I had 'invested' in what finally was a Ponzi scheme that left 11,000 victims in South America. So I learned my lessons and decided I could only be serious about it." After a couple of years studying and teaching through two different companies in Argentina, Valeria decided to trade from home, where she now raises her two little daughters.
In this exclusive interview of our 'Women in Forex' series, Valeria explains how she manages to combine trading with her family but she also shares her views about the Argentinian's economy: "The image the rest of the world has of us is merciful, it does not depict the daily reality at all." About differences between genders, Valeria believes women actually have qualities – like rigorousness and humility - that can make them more successful traders than men. That being said, she recognizes that in the end “market does not know my gender [or] if I study or not, if I plan my trading and follow a strategy or just bet”.
At the Universidad Catolica del Salvador, what made you decide on a career in Accounting?
Overall, family tradition. All my grandparents came to this country running from WWI in Europe, with nothing; most of those immigrants had settled a very tough culture of education as essential for getting a better future. In my family, the top careers were medicine or accounting. My godfather is a CPA, and I've always admired him very much. I guess I felt attracted by the career he had chosen.
How did Forex enter your life?
I have always been interested in finance, but up until I was 30, my life was focused on taxes and cost management, being the General Manager of a small technology company, with 40 employees and 3 branches in Buenos Aires. That took all my time! Yet at some point, I decided to give up that work, and focus on studying again. Forex was the second choice at that time, as I started with stocks. Some years before I had “invested” in what finally was a Ponzi scheme that left 11,000 victims in South America. So I learned my lessons and decided I could only be serious about it and started to study.
How did the opportunity to work for Trader College LLC come up?
Well, in fact I became a student of the Trader College, as it was the only Forex school I found in Argentina that was not an online school. I preferred a “real” school, maybe because of our bonds here with traditions: following an internet course is hardly considered serious study.
From there, you became involved in MolFX, another Forex school based in Argentina...
Yes. Mol FX was developed by another student of the Trader College. He asked me to join him in his project, and truly I’m very thankful to all of them as they gave me the opportunity to start with this amazing adventure my life has ended being.
Why did you decided to leave those companies?
I guess at some point of my life the idea of being 100% independent became more than just a dream. I took again my chances, leaving both companies (as I left the previous one, without anything else other than myself) and starting a solo career that consists in trading for myself and teaching to others, through my FXstreet.com position, but not only. At the moment, I have a couple of amazing traders working side by side with me, and I’m training one more, that hopefully will complete the frame.
This could be seen as a hard career, but I enjoy every minute I dedicate to the market; and what I even enjoy more is studying by myself and sharing my knowledge with others. I got my chance to change my life, and I believe that we all deserve it.
Now you've changed and you're working from home. Isn't it too hard to combine work and family?
It sounds complicated but it's actually easy when turned into a daily routine. I used to have an independent office. However, 5 years ago, with a 2-year old girl and a new born at home with the nanny, I asked myself what was the primary goal in life: work or raise my two girls by myself. At that time I was leaving home around 7 am, and coming back 12 hours later. I decided no way my girls were going to be raised by someone else: they are mine, and turn them into women of value is my responsibility. So I changed my entire working schedule, and install a small office at home.
How is your daily schedule and how do you manage to raise your two children?
I wake up around 5 am, with London already opened. I wake up my family around 7 am, and my husband takes the girls to school (it’s just 1 block away, the same English school I went when I was a kid); at noon, my dad picks them up, and I wait for them with lunch; we dedicate 1 hour to eat, review homework, and then, as they are bigger now, they go back to school: they spend 3 hours in the afternoon studying English. By 4 pm, they are back home, so we spend the evening again together, they help me prepare dinner, we go to the park, or whatever they want. By 8 pm I dedicated one more hour to the market watching Nikkei opening and the tone of the Asian session opening; then have dinner and go to bed. No TV in the dining room: talking and sharing is our goal.
In Argentina, family is a big deal. Do your parents and cousins understand what you do?
No one in my family fully understands what I do! When stocks slump enough to be on news however, my closest family members give me a phone call, to see how I’m doing!!!
One of my brothers is now asking me how to learn, he is a 39-year old engineer, with an amazing career and a great job. However, he seems to be feeling the need of being 100% independent. I will give him a chance, no doubt!
Can you give us your thoughts on Argentina's economy?
I sadly have to say that the problem here is the complete lack of a collective conscience. I will reserve my personal opinion on what’s going on in here, and why we are unable to grow as a nation, but let me tell you this: while the official data talks about 12% unemployment rate, we are closer to 30% in reality. The statistics department of our current government is not only well-known as manipulated all over the world, but this has turned into a joke. Sub-employment (people working and making less money than necessary to live) is above 40%, while more than 60% of the population lives in poor conditions; we have no real public health, or public education: just this winter, 40 schools have been closed in the Capital Federal, the Federal district, because they had no heat, or broken windows had not been replaced. Away from CF things are even worst. Taxes are abusive, as they represent all in all one more than 60% of any company income... if not more. People are extremely used to do things “under the table”; yet the collected money falls into a black hole, and we still have no doctors in public hospitals. It's is a big shame at the end. The image the rest of the world has of us is merciful, it does not depict the daily reality at all.
How would you compare this situation to the USA and Europe? What could we learn from it?
There’s no way Europe or the US - with their deficit issues - are going to head down to this path. I think it's above all cultural. I believe we have nothing to teach to the world, but much more to learn.
Let's talk a bit about trading now... How did technical analysis enter your life?
Tell us about your first big win, your "ah-ha!" moment.
It could sound weird, yet it was not the first big win, but the first big loss: I lost over 2000 dollars in one single trade, almost 50% of my account at that time. Believe me, we learn more from those than from the winning ones. It took me 4 months of extreme discipline to recover most of that capital, and having recovered it, following a plan and a strategy, that was my happiest moment as a trader.
What aspects of Technical Analysis are the most appealing to you: the visual aspect of price patterns or the crowd behavior behind it?
I believe in behavior: crosses have a certain behavior related, of course, to the crowd behind it. Market reflects all, one should never forget that basic principle of trading. The question here is how to filter the “all” or how to understand it. There are so many factors affecting the market at the same time that when you start in Forex that you think there is no chance of being able to handle all of them. An easy way to understand is doing the inverse process: watch price action and that will tell you what the market is focusing on. It's just a starter trick but it tends to help to understand what the dominant forces are at the time.
What are your favorite technical indicators and how do you use them?
I stick to a couple of Moving averages, Momentum, CCI and RSI to draw my trading map. With those tools, I have a general technical perspective for almost any possible time frame as I have adjusted some to be triggers, some to be filters, and I noticed that certain pairs work better with some rather than with others. That’s my basic frame and I usually add trend lines, or Fibonacci retracements.
I stick to that, thus I always have an extra chart, where I’m testing other stuff. I guess the day I will stop studying is the day I’ll be dead. Knowledge is the base of success, and more than this knowing ourselves, our weaknesses and strengths is fundamental for me.
As a professional trader and experienced teacher, do you think women are more risk adverse than men?
In his last book called “Come into my trading room”, Dr. Alexander Elder says, and I quote him: “I find that the percentage of successful traders is higher among women. They tend to be less arrogant, and arrogance is a deadly sin in trading. The male ego - that wonderful trait that has been bringing us wars, riots, and bloodshed since time immemorial - tends to get heavily caught up in trading”.
Tell us what you think would happen in the Forex world if women become the majority?
Well, I can’t picture women becoming a majority in Forex – remember I live in a “macho latino world” - yet I’m pretty sure the market does not know my gender. It also ignores if I study or not, if I plan my trading and follow a strategy or just bet, and everything else. I can’t understand the market behavior fully; not sure the market can understand me either.
Do you agree with the idea that women have a tendency to really learn thoroughly before trading, while men tend to learn something partially and attempt to act on it immediately?
I agree 100% with this! Women tend to study consciously before even approaching a demo account, while men tend to start experimenting with a real one. Again as stated above by Dr. Alexander Elder, women focus on avoiding losses and taking profits, more than feeding their ego. Like any human, we do have personal goals and success and “fame” are great to our souls, but at least for me, not a priority. I can’t talk for anyone else.