Trader Success Story:  Jim Rogers
January 18, 2018

Jim Rogers is a lifelong entrepreneur and trader. He founded his first business at the age of five selling peanuts. In 1973, he partnered with George Soros to found the Quantum Fund, which has become one of the most successful hedge funds in the world.

Rogers has justly earned a reputation as an investing genius. Between 1973 and 1983, the value of the Quantum Fund increased 4,200%, a return nearly 100 times larger than the S&P. The fund returned 3,500% by the time that he retired.

His Trader Success Story

Rogers is widely regarded as one of the greatest traders of the 20th Century. He began his career on Wall Street shortly after graduating from Yale. However, Rogers quickly realized that working for an investment bank wasn’t the path to true financial freedom, so after three years of working at Arnhold and S. Bleichroder, he and Soros left to start the Quantum Fund.

In 1977, Rogers became a millionaire at the age of 35. Four years after making his first million, Institutional Trader magazine called Rogers “the world’s greatest money manager.”

Rogers success can largely be attributed to his unique strategy of focusing on placing highly leveraged trades based on global macroeconomic events. While critics find some of his investing practices controversial, Rogers is also recognized as a trader success story.

Rogers’s Advice for Aspiring Traders

Rogers is unquestionably one of the greatest traders in the world. However, he consistently warns other traders not to follow his advice. He states that traders should find a system that works for themselves rather than following the same roadmap of any other traders, including him.

However, Rogers has provided some great lessons that every trader can benefit from. Here are some of his tips that both amateur and professional traders should follow.

Buy Low and Sell High

Even the most inexperienced traders understand that they should buy low and sell high. Unfortunately, cognitive dissonance typically prevents traders from following this seemingly basic and crucial principle.

One of the biggest reasons that traders fail to buy low and sell high is that they can’t gauge the direction of a stock or commodity price. Rogers said that traders need to identify extremely cheap assets and learn to tell when the prices are going to increase.

Invest in What You Know

Whenever people ask Rogers’s for investing advice, he tells people to invest in what they know. Everybody has a wealth of knowledge about something, so they should buy in industries where they can understand trends better than the average trader.

“If you are keen on cars, read everything you can about the automobile industry,” Rogers says. “You will know when something is about to happen that constitutes a major, positive change.”

Here are a couple of ways that Rogers has put this idea into practice:

  • Rogers invests heavily in the energy sector. He has a professional background in the sector and founded The Rogers Global Resources Equity Index, so his expertise has enabled him to forecast trends in the industry before other traders, which allowed him to beat the market. This is consistent with his belief that people should invest in what they are experts in.
  • He invests a lot of money in Asian markets. Since Rogers lives in the Philippines and has visited Russia, his firsthand experience with these economies gives him a large advantage over other traders. He once made a fortune shorting the Russian ruble, but recently said that he is considering buying the currency because he believes that President Putin is taking the country in the right direction. His unparalleled knowledge of Russia clearly gives him a different perception of the country’s economy than other traders.

Everyone is an expert at something, so Rogers argues that they should use their special knowledge and skills to gain an edge in the markets.

Understand How Markets Work

Rogers said that markets often behave irrationally longer than traders remain solvent. Traders must learn to discern real-world market behavior from the trends they expect the market to follow. You may be able to successfully predict the direction of the market, but you will still lose money if you can’t ride the market out until it is time to close your positions.

Rogers learned this the hard way when he first began trading and tried short-selling six companies. Rogers accurately predicted that these companies would eventually go bankrupt, but they rose in value for several years before that. While his prediction was right, Rogers got wiped out when the value of these companies rose and his broker made a margin call.

In a discussion with Hard Asset Trader, Rogers said that he still feels he isn’t good at market timing. However, he has learned the importance of keeping maintaining enough capital to wait out the markets until it is time to close his positions.

The most important thing is to avoid being overleveraged. Rogers said that markets do stupid things, so you will need to have enough of a reserve to make sure that you can wait out those periods.

How do traders know if they are overleveraged? Traders themselves are their own best barometer of that. Rogers said that traders that spend the entire day following changes in the market instinctively know that their margin is too high. These traders are highly anxious because a small shift in the wrong direction can wipe them out.

He started stating that traders were overleveraged several years before the financial collapse, but few traders heeded his warnings. Rogers actually began shorting U.S. equities and debt in 2006, because he recognized that the Federal Reserve policies had created a financial bubble that would burst within the next few years. He continues to urge other traders to avoid repeating these mistakes to avoid facing similar financial catastrophes.

Rogers states that traders need to thoroughly understand market behavior and the impact of Federal Reserve policies before playing in the markets.

Spend Less Time Investing

Paradoxically, Rogers claims that the best way to be a better trader is to typically spend less time investing. “Most successful traders, in fact, do nothing most of the time,” he states.

The biggest mistake is that many traders become cocky after they make a lot of money. They may become overly convinced of their abilities, which can lead to them making some very poorly informed decisions.

Rogers feedback comes from personal experience. Around the time he started trading, he tripled his money in three months. He then got careless and was wiped out in two months after trying to short sell after a market rally.

Rogers told us that Hubris led to him making very bad decisions, so other traders shouldn’t do anything unless they are absolutely sure that they are making the right move.

Shun Diversification

Most stockbrokers focus heavily on diversification. Major brokerage firms such as Fidelity and Vanguard focus on top-down hierarchal approaches to investing. However, Rogers argues that diversification is a bad practice for growth traders.

“If you want to make a lot of money, resist diversification. Brokers promote the motion that everybody should diversify. But that is mainly to protect themselves. The way to get rich is to find what is good, focus on it, and concentrate your resources there. But make very sure you are right,” he states.

Rogers attributes his track record to his ability to understand some markets and industries very well and focusing on them exclusively. He encourages other traders to follow similar practices.

Related Articles:

Trader Success Story: George Soros

Read How a Handicapped Female Trader made  $10,000 in 1 day

Trading while Travelling around the World: Kunal Desai

Trader Success Story: From Rags to riches – Peter Cruddas

 

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