How Does Position Sizing Work?

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Suppose you have a portfolio of $100,000 and you decide to only risk 1% on a trading idea that you have. You are risking $1,000.

This is the amount RISKED on the trading idea (trade) and should not be confused with the amount that you actually INVESTED in the trading idea (trade).

So that’s your limit. You decide to RISK only $1,000 on any given idea (trade). You can risk more as your portfolio gets bigger, but you only risk 1% of your total portfolio on any one idea.

Now suppose you decide to buy a stock that was priced at $23.00 per share and you place a protective stop at 25% away, which means that if the price drops to $17.25, you are out of the trade. Your risk per share in dollar terms is $5.75. Since your risk is $5.75, you divide this value into your 1% allocation ($1,000) and find that you are able to purchase 173 shares, rounded down to the nearest share.

Work it out for yourself so you understand that if you get stopped out of this stock (i.e., the stock drops 25%), you will only lose $1,000, or 1% of your portfolio. No one likes to lose, but if you didn’t have the stop and the stock dropped to $10.00 per share, your capital would begin to vanish quickly.

Another thing to notice is that you will be purchasing about $4,000 worth of stock. Again, work it out for yourself. Multiply 173 shares by the purchase price of $23.00 per share and you’ll get $3,979. Add commissions and that number ends up being about $4,000.

Thus, you are purchasing $4,000 worth of stock, but you are only risking $1,000, or 1% of your portfolio.

And since you are using 4% of your portfolio to buy the stock ($4,000), you can buy a total of 25 stocks without using any borrowing power or margin, as the stockbrokers call it.

This may not sound as “sexy” as putting a substantial amount of money in one stock that “takes off,” but that strategy is a recipe for disaster and rarely ends in success. Protecting your initial capital by employing effective position sizing strategies is vital if you want to trade and stay in the markets over the long term.

Van believes that people who understand position sizing and have a reasonably good system can usually meet their objectives by developing the right position sizing strategy.

Lesson 3 will help you begin the process of doing so by introducing you to two key topics: R and R-Multiples.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_widget_sidebar sidebar_id=”flash_right_sidebar”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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