Ask Colin

Dr Elder risks a maximum of 6% on all of his positions at one time. What is your total risk in the various market phases?

The answer to this is quite complicated, because you cannot make a simple comparison to Dr Elder's method and mine. The problem is that in my investment plan, everything is connected to everything else. There are several risks that have to be managed and there are various ways I do that. You cannot easily consider one area of the plan without understanding the total picture. It is all in my videotape and the book I am publishing progressively on my subscription web site. However, here is a direct answer to the specific question you ask.

Dr Elder risks up to 2% of his total capital on any one trade. He then risks a total of 6% at any one time on all of his positions in any month. If he has risked 2% on three trades, the only way he can take another trade is if he closes one of the trades out or he is able to move the stop on one or more of the trades so that the risk is less than 2%.

I have no maximum risk percentage that is equivalent to Dr Elder's 6% per month. I distinguish between market risk and specific risk. Market risk is managed by what proportion of my capital I will invest in a particular market phase. Basically I will be fully invested when the risk is low at the start of a bull market, reduce it when the bull market is getting overheated and the risk is high and maybe even right out of the market if there is a bear phase. This looks after market risk.

I look after specific risk much as Dr Elder does, by limiting my position size. However, I also employ the standard method of diversification, which Dr Elder does not do explicitly. So, I aim for about 15 to 20 positions when fully invested and limit risk on any one to 1% (usually 0.5% or less when I first start building the position). I do not monitor total risk after the trades are open in a rule-driven way. You can see that I might have a total risk of 2o% or more if fully invested and early in a bull market. However, this is unlikely, because to have built full positions, I will usually have been able to reduce the amount risked. A total risk of maybe 10% might be more realistic. However, it does depend on how each bull market campaign unfolds.