ASK THE EXPERT: A beginner's guide to forex trading

Forex Talk
By Mario Sant Singh

Posted on May 09, 2013

NEW to currency trading? Mario Sant Singh, director for training and education of foreign exchange brokerage firm FXPRIMUS, answers questions from novice traders.

Based in Singapore, he has appeared on CNBC to talk about foreign exchange markets, and is a regular contributor to radio stations and finance publications in Singapore and in Asia.

1.What's the difference between forex trading and stock trading? Which one gives more benefit to investors?

In order to profit from investing in the stock market, the share price has to move in one direction and that is up. However, when it comes to Forex trading, a trader can trade on the Long (Buy) side and on the Short (Sell) side as well. This gives Forex traders a great deal of flexibility, allowing the trader to profit from the currency markets regardless of price direction.

2. Can you share simple and quick tips for beginners?

I believe there are three keys to profitable forex trading:

A. Strategies

You must have a proven set of rules to tell you when to enter, when to exit and when to stay out of the market. In my latest book, “17 Proven Currency Trading Strategies”, I talk about utilizing specific strategies which suit your personality.

B. Money Management

You must practice strict money management by controlling your risk for every single trade. Great traders do not risk more than 3% of their capital per trade. This prevents you from blowing up your capital in a short period of time when you experience a string of losses.

C. State Of Mind

You must be disciplined and not let emotions rule you when it comes to trading. In order to do so, one of the most effective ways is to have a trading plan and follow it diligently.

I also strongly believe that mentoring and coaching are the best ways to learn how to trade successfully. If you can learn from another successful trader who has already walked the path that you are seeking, it will greatly shorten your learning curve.

3.What is your projection concerning forex investment globally in 2013? What are the driving factors?

Today's major currencies are at the very root of an emerging global monetary problem.  While the talk of "recovery" in recent months now populates headlines, the desperate actions of politicians and central bankers show the contrary. The Federal Reserve (FED), European Central Bank (ECB) and the Bank of Japan (BOJ), cannot stop creating new base money.

Federal Reserve and the US Dollar

The Fed cannot withdraw QE, unless they want to see deterioration of credit in the banking system.  This would feed through to a deterioration of debt in the broader economy. As it stands now, the FED is engaging in an open-ended program (QE4) in purchasing USD85 billion of bonds -- USD45 billion in Treasury bonds and USD40 billion in Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS), until the unemployment rate falls below 6.5%.

Bank of Japan and the Japanese Yen

Not to be outdone, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe began preparing the market for inflation targeting in 2013. BOJ will adopt a more aggressive stance focusing on open-ended asset purchases without a specified limit, a close reflection of the FED's QE4 program. His goal is simple: revive the Japanese economy and kick off the shackles of crippling deflation through increased exports from a weakening Yen. Against this backdrop, the importance of outright inflation targeting by Prime Minister Abe cannot be understated for holders of all global currencies and precious metals. By threatening inflation targeting, Japan placed the world on notice that it was willing to stop at nothing to cheapen its currency. 

European Central Bank and the Euro

Ever since the President of ECB Mario Draghi announced the Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT) program, it has brought some semblance of stability to the region's finances, even though none of the member country has actually asked for the funds through the OMT. The mere promise of 'we will do whatever it takes' by Draghi is enough to place some confidence in the market.

With the US and Japan debasing their currencies with vigor, an appreciating EUR is not something that can be tolerated. In fact, it even prompted Draghi to issue a statement assuring that the ECB has excess liquidity even after the LTRO repayments and they stand "ready to offer liquidity to the banking system as needed". It is a clue that the ECB will not allow the EUR to strengthen too much.

Since the Fed, ECB and BOJ are in a tacit currency war, we expect the value of USD, EUR and JPY to weaken further in 2013.

Rise of the Precious Metals

Gold and silver are increasingly viewed as monetary metals and safe haven assets. As such, supply does not dictate the price. Demand and supply are inelastic. Thus, demand rises with a higher price, while supply falls with a higher price.

With the central banks increasing their reserves of Gold and Silver, plus the fact that there is dwindling above ground stockpiles, I expect the precious metals to break out of its consolidation phase and propel higher.

4.What are your suggestions for investors, specifically during the year, as Europe is coming to solution on debt crisis and US is recovering? 

It is evident in the first few months of 2013 that the Central Banks around the world are occupying the centerstage.  The market is being led by "Verbal Interventions" from European Central Bank (ECB), Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ), Bank of Japan (BOJ) etc.  Besides looking at technical and/or fundamental analysis, investors now have to "read" and "understand" what the respective Central Banks want, in order to make a more informed investment decision.  Although, it may seem like a solution to Europe's debt crisis is arriving, their economic data tells a different story.  There are no significant improvements in the unemployment rate, manufacturing data and GDP yet.

On the contrary, the US recovery seems to be on track, as seen in the positive economic data in recent months. The US also recorded a blowout employment figure on 8th March 2013; with 236K hires as opposed to a forecasted 162K. Traders should look to buy USD, sell JPY, sell EUR and buy gold/silver.

5. You are planning to open a forex academy to educate Filipino investors. Why do you think the Philippines has the potential for forex trading? What are the factors?

With a growing income level in Philippines, the number of retail investors is also growing significantly. The society is also getting more tech-savvy, with more people using smartphones like the Blackberry and iPhone. These two factors alone have given rise to a tremendous interest in online forex trading. Today, you can access the trading platform on the laptop and virtually any smartphone.

Taking the high public interest of forex trading into account, I believe that it is crucial to equip and expose investors with proper education.

6. Stock trading is more familiar than forex trading in Philippines, how can you attract new investors in the country to start forex trading?

Retail forex trading is not new in the Philippines and it has grown tremendously in the past decade. This is perhaps in part due to capital flows to the country and South East Asian (SEA) region as the global economies falter in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). This has in some ways attracted investors to the forex market as they see it as another avenue for portfolio diversification.

There is an insatiable appetite for forex trading knowledge here in SEA as investors flushed with liquidity are increasingly looking at the forex market as a viable means to leverage and grow their wealth. This is evident in the mushrooming of forex educational providers in the region.

I believe the key to spreading the awareness about forex trading is through education. As investors acquire the knowledge, their interest on forex trading will naturally be peaked. Couple that with proper coaching and guidance during their learning phase, traders will come to realize the wealth potential trading the forex market.

Here are three reasons why I believe current stock traders will be attracted to the forex market:

1) Largest market in the world with USD4.3 trillion traded everyday
2) Open 24 hours a day
3) Flexibility to go short or long anytime

Mario Singh is the author of 17 Proven Currency Trading Strategies: How to Profit in the Forex Market (Wiley Publishing). You may visit his blogs at and at He is also on Facebook.

All opinions expressed by the author on this website are solely his opinions and do not reflect the opinions of BusinessWorld.