'Women have an intuition about the market, almost like a gut feeling' – Jody Samuels

J. Samuels

Current Job: Trader and Coach, Founder of FX Trader’s EDGE coaching program, Elliott Wave expert
Career: Over 25 years in the FX Market, as bank trader at JP Morgan and retail trader and coach
Age: 52

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"Thinking back it should have been more daunting than it actually was”, says Jody Samuels, the “Queen of the quid”, about her first years back in the 80's at JP Morgan in NYC. Jody Samuels,coach and founder of FXTradersEDGE.com, discovered Forex in 1979 in the Arbitrage (Foreign exchange) department of a bank in Norway and immediately got fascinated.

Over the years, Jody learned how to limit her emotions and this balance “on the vast emotional spectrum of trading” is something she is now teaching to her students. She doesn't think there are gender specific characteristics that make you a better trader and “if a person has goals to become a successful trader, then they need to do whatever it takes to learn a methodology, practice it over and over again until it becomes second nature.”

In this exclusive interview given to FXstreet.com, Jody Samuels shares with us her long experience as a professional bank trader and teacher.

When did you first get interested in Forex trading?

During my studies at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, I belonged to this organization called AIESEC, an international student business association that organized internships abroad. I was fortunate enough to get placed in Bergen, Norway, where I worked in the Arbitrage (Foreign exchange) department of a bank as a trainee. My function was to operate the telex machine and quote prices from the traders in Norwegian Kroners in the interbank market. I was so fascinated that I extended my internship to 3 ½ months, after which I moved to NY and applied to work for JP Morgan. I had previously accepted a position in a can manufacturing plant doing cost accounting which I resigned from before I even started working there.

"When I joined the bank to trade currencies, I really didn’t think about my gender. I just did my job."

How was it to be a woman in a man's world at JP Morgan when you started in 1979?

I was the only female trading the GBP/USD in the interbank market among the major global banks at the time and I was called the “Queen of the quid”. Thinking back it should have been more daunting than it actually was. However, having just graduated from the Wharton, I was fortunate enough to meet other women who would later become giants in their own fields of expertise and we had a lot in common. We were prepared for male dominated industries by virtue of the fact that we had just graduated from one of the top business schools in the world where women and men were on the same playing field, taking the same classes. So, when I joined the bank to trade currencies, I really didn’t think about my gender. I just did my job.

Can you describe your experience on the GBP trading desk?

As the GBP trader in NY, I was among a group of about 20 traders/ assistant traders on the desk trading various currencies. We had to work together as a team, answering phones and quoting prices both over the phone and electronically through stand-alone dealing systems. It was really electrifying, fast moving and exciting. As market makers we had to think on our feet and quote two-way prices all day, corporates and institutional investors.

Did you feel more a sense of camaraderie or competition with the other women in your work environment?

I didn’t compete with the other women in my work environment. The competition was with me, to see how many winning days I could have every single month. That was one of the goals I strived for, to have a complete month of winning days.

When moving on from the trading desk at JPM to the role of retail trader/instructor, did you need to adopt any changes in strategy or perspective?

The biggest challenge I had when migrating from institutional to retail trader was to accept that I could be successful on my own without the support of other institutional traders. While at the bank I had so many resources around me, including currency strategists, options strategists and fellow traders that I developed my style based on my environment. When I left all that behind, I had to first accept that I didn’t need all of that support to succeed. My belief system needed changing. Then I found myself studying with successful independent traders who became my mentors. That is the process I followed in the transition from institutional to retail trader.

"The biggest disadvantage that independent retail traders face today is not trading with enough capital."

Does the independent trader face any advantages/disadvantages compared to institutional traders?

The biggest disadvantage that independent retail traders face today is not trading with enough capital. Because of the high leverage allowed Forex traders, it is too easy to open up an account with a small amount of capital, leverage it up, and lose it after several trades. One advantage is that information is highly transparent and data is cheap. When I started trading on my own in the mid 1990’s, I paid $2,500 a month for nice clean futures data for charting. Today, the fixed costs are practically zero, which means that anyone can set up an account and start trading. All the education and information is available to the retail trader today, but the right education is key. Trading as a profession takes time to master. It’s important to hire a mentor and a coach who have Forex trading experience and can communicate well.

What feeling do you get when trading?

In my earlier days I felt I was on a roller coaster ride with my emotions most days, as the markets were very volatile. I’ve been trading for so long that I have experienced many different feelings and emotions along the way. Today, I work on limiting my extreme emotions, positioning myself mentally on the fulcrum of a seesaw between the emotions of fear and greed. I practice being balanced on the vast emotional spectrum of trading.

And that's something you are teaching to your students I imagine; how to control their emotions...

Yes. I can say there isn’t one emotion or situation that a trader can describe to me that I haven’t experienced myself.

Is this why you decided to dedicate yourself to educating other traders?

Quite frankly, I have a lot to offer to other traders due to my long experience. I am a mentor and a coach but I love to work with traders one on one which is why I developed the FX Trader’s EDGE coaching program to teach traders entrepreneurial skills and habits. I find that by teaching them the nuances of running a business or how to view a market through its cycles often makes a big difference in a trader’s results. When one of my students succeeds, it brings me great joy. When I run seminars to teach trading skills, it always makes me think about how I am trading and reinforces what I do myself.

Elliott Waves is one of your favorite technical indicators you teach to your students. Can you remember when you first realized Elliot Wave was a particularly effective indicator?

At the bank our technical analyst on the desk introduced Elliott Wave Analysis. He was very good at telling us what the bias should be for the day, given the Elliott Wave count and other techniques he looked at. When I left the bank I studied and mastered Elliott Wave analysis on my own and continued to use it in my trading. I really can’t remember a time when I didn’t use it – it has always been a part of my analysis toolbox. Today I love teaching it to traders and often times they feel it is the “missing piece” of the trading puzzle. Elliott Wave analysis can be used as an overlay to whatever strategy the trader is using to define entry and exit points. It provides a road map, making it easier to target moves, and see the bigger picture.

You are very involved in networks, to the point that you encourage your students to use them...

Yes. When people take my seminars, I encourage them to keep in touch and we actually set up a Skype group. That way when like minded traders see setups, they can share them with the group. Everyone benefits. The market is so big that it really doesn’t matter how many people are taking the same position at the same time. This works really well when students follow different currencies and can share their analysis and setups with the group.

After teaching so many students, have you noticed differences in how men and women trade and analyze the Forex Market?

The analysis is the same but sometimes I think women have an intuition about the market that it will go up or down – almost like a gut feeling. I’m not sure that men experience that same level of intuition. In terms of trading, I do think that women are more conservative and less aggressive than men as a whole but there are always exceptions. That might translate into smaller profits but tighter losses as well.

The CEO of a retail forex trading training course says women have 3 qualities which make them better traders than men... First he says women have a stronger sense of risk aversion. Do you agree?

"If women are in fact more risk averse, then [...] they will take fewer and smaller positions, [...] and take smaller profits."

I disagree – I don’t believe one can generalize that more women than men have these three qualities. On the risk front, it is important to be a risk taker in any trading business, including Forex. If women are in fact more risk averse, then that implies they will take fewer and smaller positions, have less exposure, and take smaller profits. Perhaps they will be better at running the marathon of Forex trading and being in the business for the long haul. I don’t know. I think being too conservative isn’t good either so a happy medium needs to be found.

I recently read the article “What if Women Ran Wall Street”, by Sheelah Kolhatkar, published in New York Magazine, March 21, 2010. The article implies that many men are aggressive, stubborn and ego driven and therefore need to work on taming those qualities if trading large sums of money. No comment on whether or not women traders are better for the economy – I would say that a good mix of both genders might create the right recipe of risk taking and risk aversion.

Second quality is increased patience, which lets them follow through on trading plans better than men.

Patience is important but again, I’m not sure if women are more patient than men. I know many male traders who are very patient traders.

Third, he points out women's tendency to really learn thoroughly before trading, while men tend to learn something partially and immediately.

This describes a person’s instincts that drive a person’s natural way of taking action. Since every personality is different, one cannot say that the way someone learns best is gender specific. I’ve taught many male traders who are well organized and meticulous about their studying. I’ve also met many female traders who are also rigorous in their approach to learn.

So you would not say these are gender specific differences...

From my experience, these qualities are definitely not gender specific – if a person has goals to become a successful trader, then they need to do whatever it takes to learn a methodology, practice it over and over again until it becomes second nature, and work with a coach to keep growing as a trader.

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