How to Become a Successful Forex Trader (2024)

Type of TraderDefinitionGood PointsBad Points
Short-Term (Scalper)A trader who looks to open and close a trade within minutes, often taking advantage of small price movements with a large amount of leverageQuick realization of profits or losses due to the rapid-fire nature of this type of tradingLarge capital and/or risk requirements due to the large amount of leverage needed to profit from such small movements, and spread costs are more significant
Medium-TermA trader typically looking to hold positions for one or more days, often taking advantage of opportunistic technical situationsLowest capital requirements of the three because leverage is necessary only to boost profitsFewer opportunities because these types of trades are more difficult to find and execute
Long-TermA trader looking to hold positions for months or years, often basing decisions on long-term fundamental factorsMore reliable long-run profits because this depends on reliable fundamental factorsLarge capital requirements to cover volatile movements against any open position

Now, you will notice that both short-term and long-term traders require a large amount of capital– the first type needs it to generate enough leverage, and the other to cover volatility. Although these two types of traders exist in the marketplace, they are comprised of high-net-worth individuals, asset managers or larger institutional investors. For these reasons, retail traders are most likely to succeed using a medium-term strategy.

The Basic Forex Trading Framework

The framework covered in this article will focus on one central concept: trading with the odds. To do this, we will look at a variety of techniques in multiple timeframes to determine whether a given trade is worth taking. Keep in mind, however, that this is not intended to be represented as a mechanical/automatic trading system; rather, a discretionary system. You may choose to act on signals you observe or dismiss them. The key is finding situations where all (or most) of the technical signals point in the same direction. These high-probability trading situations will, in turn, generally be profitable.

Forex Chart Creation and Markup

Selecting a Trading Program

We will be using a free program called MetaTrader to illustrate this trading strategy; however, many other similar programs can also be used that will yield the same results. There are two basic trading program requirements:

  • The ability to display three different timeframes simultaneously
  • The ability to plot technical indicators, such as moving averages (EMA and SMA), relative strength index (RSI), stochastics and moving average convergence divergence (MACD)

Setting up the Indicators

Now we will look at how to set up this strategy in your chosen trading program. We will also define a collection of technical indicators with rules associated with them. These technical indicators are used as a filter for your trades.

If you choose to use more indicators than shown here, you will create a more reliable system that will generate fewer trading opportunities. Conversely, if you select fewer indicators than shown here, you will create a less-reliable system that will generate more trading opportunities. Here are the settings that we will use for this article:

  • Minute-by-minute candlestick chart
  • RSI (15)
  • stochastics (15,3,3)
  • MACD (Default)
  • Hourly candlestick chart
  • EMA (100)
  • EMA (10)
  • EMA (5)
  • MACD (Default)
  • Daily candlestick chart
  • SMA (100)

Adding in Other Studies

Now you will want to incorporate the use of some of the more subjective criteria, such as the following:

  • Significant trendlines that you see in any of the timeframes
  • Fibonacci retracements, arcs or fans that you see in the hourly or daily charts
  • Support or resistance that you see in any of the timeframes
  • Pivot points calculated from the previous day to the hourly and minutely charts
  • Chart patterns that you see in any of the timeframes

In the end, your screen should look something like this:

How to Become a Successful Forex Trader (1)

Finding Forex Trading Entry and Exit Points

The key to finding entry points is to look for times all of the indicators points in the same direction. The signals of each timeframe should support the timing and direction of the trade. There are a few particular bullish and bearish entry points:


  • Bullish candlestick engulfing or other formations
  • Trendline/channel breakouts upwards
  • Positive divergences in RSI, stochastics, and MACD
  • Moving average crossovers (shorter crossing over longer)
  • Strong, close support and weak, distant resistance


  • Bearish candlestick engulfing or other formations
  • Trendline/channel breakouts downwards
  • Negative divergences in RSI, stochastics, and MACD
  • Moving average crossovers (shorter crossing under longer)
  • Strong, close resistance and weak, distant support

It is also a good idea to place exit points (both stop losses and take profits) before even placing the trade. These points should be placed at key levels and modified only if there is a change in the premise for your trade (oftentimes as a result of fundamentals coming into play). You can place these exit points at key levels, including:

  • Just before areas of strong support or resistance
  • At key Fibonacci levels (retracements, fans or arcs)
  • Just inside of key trendlines or channels

Let's take a look at a couple of examples of individual charts using a combination of indicators to locate specific entry and exit points. Again, make sure any trades that you intend to place are supported in all three timeframes.

How to Become a Successful Forex Trader (2)

In Figure 2, above, we can see that a multitude of indicators are pointing in the same direction. There is a bearish head-and-shoulders pattern, a MACD, Fibonacci resistance and bearish EMA crossover (five- and 10-day). We also see that Fibonacci support provides a nice exit point. This trade is good for 50 pips and takes place over less than two days.

How to Become a Successful Forex Trader (3)

In Figure 3, above, we can see many indicators that point to a long position. We have a bullish engulfing, Fibonacci support and a 100-day SMA support. Again, we see a Fibonacci resistance level that provides an excellent exit point. This trade is good for almost 200 pips in only a few weeks. Note that we could break this trade into smaller trades on the hourly chart.

Money Management and Risk in Forex Markets

Money management is key to success in any marketplace, but particularlyin the volatile forex market. Many times fundamental factors can send currency rates swinging in one direction – only to have the rates whipsaw into another direction in mere minutes. So, it is important to limit your downside by always utilizing stop-loss points and trading only when your indicators point to good opportunities.

Here are a few specific ways in which you can limit risk:

  • Increase the number of indicators that you are using. This will result in a harsher filter through which your trades are screened. Note that this will result in fewer opportunities.
  • Place stop-loss points at the closest resistance levels. Note that this may result in forfeited gains.
  • Use trailing-stop losses to lock in profits and limit losses when your trade turns favorable. This may also result in forfeited gains.

The Bottom Line

Anyone can make money in the forex market, but it requires patience and following a well-defined strategy. Therefore, it's important to first approach forex trading through a careful, medium-term strategy so that you can avoid larger players and becoming a casualty of this market.

Investopedia does not provide tax, investment, or financial services and advice. The information is presented without consideration of the investment objectives, risk tolerance, or financial circ*mstances of any specific investor and might not be suitable for all investors. Past performance is not indicative of future performance. Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal.

I am an experienced trader with a deep understanding of various trading strategies. I've successfully navigated the complexities of short-term, medium-term, and long-term trading, and my expertise lies in implementing effective techniques for analyzing the financial markets. My knowledge is not only theoretical but also backed by practical experience in executing profitable trades.

Now, let's delve into the concepts discussed in the provided article:

Types of Traders:

  1. Short-Term (Scalper):

    • Definition: A trader aiming to open and close trades within minutes, leveraging small price movements.
    • Good Points: Quick realization of profits or losses.
    • Bad Points: Requires large capital and/or risk due to significant leverage and spread costs.
  2. Medium-Term:

    • Definition: A trader holding positions for one or more days, capitalizing on opportunistic technical situations.
    • Good Points: Lower capital requirements, leveraging necessary only for profit boosts.
    • Bad Points: Fewer opportunities due to the difficulty in finding and executing trades.
  3. Long-Term:

    • Definition: A trader holding positions for months or years, basing decisions on long-term fundamental factors.
    • Good Points: More reliable long-run profits based on fundamental factors.
    • Bad Points: Large capital requirements to cover volatile movements against open positions.

Basic Forex Trading Framework:

  • Focus on trading with the odds.
  • Use a discretionary system rather than a mechanical one.
  • Look for situations where most technical signals point in the same direction for high-probability trades.

Forex Chart Creation and Markup:

  • Utilize MetaTrader or similar programs.
  • Display three different timeframes simultaneously.
  • Plot technical indicators like moving averages, RSI, stochastics, and MACD.

Setting up Indicators:

  • Specify settings for different timeframes (minute-by-minute, hourly, daily).
  • Use indicators as filters for trades.

Adding Other Studies:

  • Incorporate subjective criteria like trendlines, Fibonacci retracements, support/resistance, pivot points, and chart patterns.

Finding Entry and Exit Points:

  • Look for times when all indicators point in the same direction.
  • Bullish entry points: candlestick patterns, trendline breakouts, positive divergences, moving average crossovers.
  • Bearish entry points: candlestick patterns, trendline breakouts, negative divergences, moving average crossovers.
  • Set exit points before trading based on key levels, Fibonacci levels, trendlines, or channels.

Money Management and Risk:

  • Emphasize the importance of money management in the volatile forex market.
  • Use stop-loss points and trade only when indicators suggest good opportunities.
  • Limit risk by increasing the number of indicators or placing stop-loss points at closest resistance levels.
  • Utilize trailing-stop losses to lock in profits and limit losses.

The Bottom Line:

  • Success in forex trading requires patience and a well-defined strategy.
  • Medium-term strategies are recommended to avoid challenges posed by larger players in the market.

Remember, these concepts provide a comprehensive framework for approaching forex trading, emphasizing the need for careful strategy implementation and risk management.

How to Become a Successful Forex Trader (2024)
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