Strategy and emotional biases in CFD trading

Written by
Gergely K.
Fact checked by
Updated
Jun 2023

Trading with Contracts for Difference (CFD) has gained immense popularity in recent years, thanks to its flexibility and potential for high returns. However, successful CFD trading requires a combination of a deep understanding of trading psychology and the markets, sound strategy, and the ability to manage emotional biases effectively. 

In this article, we will explore the importance of strategy in CFD trading and discuss some common emotional biases, and trading psychology that can impact traders' decision-making processes.

  • CFD trading is a highly risky form of trading because of the leverage, so educating yourself is essential
  • A sound strategy is a good way to mitigate the risk but also be aware of your emotions 
  • Knowing yourself, your reaction to losses or wins, is a very useful tool to manage risks
  • The emotional highs and lows of trading can influence your decision-making and increase or decrease the risks of losing your money

The role of strategy in CFD trading

The basis of effective CFD trading is strategy. It involves developing a well-defined plan outlining a trader's approach to the market, including entry and exit points, risk management measures, and identifying trading opportunities. Without a strategy, you are more likely to make emotional decisions, resulting in uneven performance and a chance of losses.

Here are a few key elements of a solid CFD trading strategy:

  • Clear goals: Define your financial goals and risk tolerance. Understanding your objectives will help you align your strategy accordingly.

  • Technical analysis: Utilize technical indicators and charts to identify trends, support, and resistance levels, and potential entry or exit points. Technical analysis provides valuable insights into market dynamics and can assist in making informed trading decisions.

  • Risk management: Implement strict risk management practices, such as setting stop-loss orders and position sizing. Managing risk is crucial in CFD trading to protect your capital and limit potential losses.

  • Diversification: Avoid putting all your eggs in one basket by diversifying your CFD portfolio. Diversification helps spread risk across different assets and reduces the impact of individual market fluctuations.

If you would like to learn more about strategy, check out our article that provides an in-depth analysis of how you can effectively trade CFDs.

However, when you start trading, you will realize that there is more to it than just looking at fundamentals and reading charts. Many of your problems during trading will come from your own personality, as in how you react to what is happening. Knowing and managing your feelings is key to successful trading.

Emotional biases in CFD trading

We are humans, we all have emotional reactions when we are losing, when we are winning, when we are rejoicing, or when we feel lost. These feelings and the mindset you are in can have an impact on your trading decisions. CFD trading is relatively fast-moving and because of the leverage can magnify your losses or amplify your profit compared to your original input, so it is especially important to be aware of what you are doing and how your emotions influence that. 

Let's look at some common emotional biases in CFD trading which can cloud your judgment when making trading decisions:

  • Fear and greed are two powerful emotions that often influence traders' decisions. Fear can lead to selling too early or hesitating to enter a trade, while greed can result in holding onto a position for too long, and hoping for higher profits. It is essential to maintain emotional discipline and stick to your predetermined strategy.

  • Confirmation bias occurs when traders only seek information that supports their existing beliefs and ignore contradictory evidence. This bias can lead to tunnel vision, preventing you from considering alternative viewpoints and making well-informed decisions. It is crucial to remain open-minded and continually reassess your trading approach.

  • Loss aversion refers to the tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses over acquiring gains of an equal magnitude. Traders affected by this bias may hold onto losing positions for extended periods, hoping for a reversal. It is important to cut losses and adhere to your risk management plan to avoid further damage to your portfolio.

Tips on managing your emotions when trading CFDs

To overcome and manage your emotions in CFD trading, you can consider a few different strategies. 

  • First, developing self-awareness is key. By being mindful of your emotions while trading and cultivating self-awareness, you can recognize when biases such as fear or greed are influencing your decisions and take steps to counteract them. 
  • You can do that, for example, by keeping a trading journal that allows you to document your trades, including your thoughts, emotions, and the rationale behind each decision. You can also note down how your emotions changed as things started going good/bad for you. By regularly reviewing your journal, you can identify patterns, tendencies, and emotional biases, enabling you to make adjustments and improve your decision-making process. 
  • Continuously educating yourself about CFD trading, market dynamics, and your own emotional reactions is crucial. The more knowledge and preparation you have, the better equipped you'll be to handle emotional biases effectively. By staying informed and up-to-date, you can make more rational and objective decisions based on solid analysis rather than being swayed by impulsive emotions. 
  • Lastly, seeking support from experienced traders, joining trading communities, or even consulting with a professional trading coach can provide valuable insights and guidance in managing emotional biases.

Check out our top recommendations for the best CFD brokers, if you want to apply your trading strategy to CFDs, these are all brokers we consider legit as they are overseen by a trusted regulator. 

FAQ

What are the most important biases in trading?

Traders encounter a multitude of emotions that can significantly impact their decision-making process. Among them are some biases that can have an impact on your decision-making, such as confirmation bias, overconfidence, and loss aversion. However, by maintaining awareness of these biases and proactively taking steps to prevent them, traders can potentially enhance their decision-making abilities and achieve better outcomes.

How do you separate emotions from trading?

Having a trading plan, and sticking to it is the best method to avoid being swayed by emotion in trading. Also, keep a trading journal and note down your emotions too in it, so you can be more aware of how you react, where your emotions take you, and when you are acting on them.

What is the best mindset for trading?

The best mindset for trading is one that combines discipline, objectivity, and a long-term perspective. You should maintain discipline by sticking to your trading plan and not letting emotions drive decision-making. Objectivity is crucial, as you should analyze the market based on facts and data rather than personal biases or predictions.

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Author of this article

Gergely Korpos

Co-Founder, CPO | Equity • Community Trader • Financial Market

With over a decade of experience in financial markets, I've executed thousands of trades as both a commodity trader and an equity portfolio manager. I have hands-on experience in opening accounts with the brokers that are listed on BrokerChooser. As the co-founder and Chief Product Officer (CPO) of BrokerChooser, my mission is to demystify personal investing for all.

Everything you find on BrokerChooser is based on reliable data and unbiased information. We combine our 10+ years finance experience with readers feedback. Read more about our methodology.

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