Position Sizing: The Way to Trade Forex Effectively


In forex trading, one strategy stands out for its significant impact on portfolio management — position sizing. Recognised by seasoned traders as a vital element in their toolkit, position sizing is an instrument that traders need to make reasonable trading decisions.

This FXOpen article aims to shed light on the significance of position sizing in forex trading. Here are the rules that traders follow, along with simple yet illustrative examples.

What Is Position Sizing?

Position sizing is a crucial risk management strategy that determines the amount of capital allocated to a particular trade. It goes beyond simply deciding how many lots or units to trade; rather, it involves calculating the appropriate percentage of your trading capital to commit to a specific trade. This approach ensures that no single trade has the potential to excessively impact your overall portfolio.

Position sizing is influenced by portfolio diversification. Traders and investors may allocate different position sizes to various assets in their portfolios to spread risk effectively. Diversification may help reduce the impact of a single losing trade on the overall portfolio.

Asset volatility plays a role in position sizing. More volatile assets may require smaller trades to limit potential losses, while less volatile assets may allow for larger positions.

This strategy can be applied to a long position and short position in forex, cryptocurrencies*, stocks, bonds, commodities, and other financial assets that you can trade.

Risk Management and Position Sizing

Risk management and position sizing are closely related. Determining the appropriate size of each trade protects traders from large losses and ensures a consistent and sustainable trading experience. Competent determination of the size allows traders to avoid becoming a victim of market volatility and putting all their capital at risk.

Practical Example 1: The 2% Rule

You may want to consider the widely adopted 2% rule. According to this principle, a trader should risk no more than 2% of their trading capital per trade. For example, if you have $50,000 in your trading account, then the maximum allowable risk per trade will be $1,000 (2% of $50,000). If you trade a currency pair with a stop loss of 50 pips, the position size can be calculated as follows: PS (in lots) = Risk Amount / (Stop Loss in pips x Pip Value). In a standard lot, the pips value is $10. Therefore, you can use two standard lots.

Practical Example 2: Volatility-Adjusted Position Sizing

Taking volatility into account when determining the amount of money to use adds another layer of complexity. A popular indicator used for this purpose is ATR (Average True Range). Suppose you are trading a currency pair with an ATR of 75 pips. If your risk tolerance remains at 2%, your order can be adjusted to account for the increased volatility. In this case, a stop loss of 50 pips may not be sufficient, and you may consider setting a more reliable stop loss of 75 pips.

Important Aspects to Consider When Managing Positions

To deal with the complexities of calculations, traders often turn to tools like the forex position size calculator with leverage. This tool allows for accurate calculations, taking into account a trader’s risk tolerance and the impact of leverage on trading performance. Traders can also use a forex position size calculator app. Apps streamline the process, providing quick and accurate size calculations on the go.

For those who prefer a hands-on approach, there is a forex position size formula that traders can apply manually. It typically considers account size, risk percentage per order, and stop loss levels. The formula commonly used for calculating it is:

PS = (Account Equity×Risk Percentage) / Dollar Risk per Trade

It’s crucial to note that the distance to the stop-loss level influences the dollar risk per trade (the amount of money you are willing to risk), which is calculated as Number of Pips × Pip Value.

The discussed method for prudent position sizing may help traders protect the portfolio from devastating drawdowns that can erode capital faster than gains can replenish it. Additionally, as returns accumulate, the ability to increase position sizes may help traders gradually amplify returns.

Also, one crucial aspect when calculating an order size is evaluating the forex open position ratios. These ratios provide insights into the market sentiment, indicating whether traders are predominantly holding long or short trades. Many traders use this information to gauge potential market shifts and adjust their strategies accordingly.

Final Thoughts

In forex trading, the ability to determine the appropriate size of your order is an invaluable skill that transcends technical analysis and market intuition. It’s a disciplined approach that places risk management at the forefront, allowing traders to navigate the financial markets with confidence. Additionally, using tools such as the forex position size calculator, both through manual formulas and user-friendly applications, may expand traders’ opportunities.

If you want to enjoy trading in over 600 markets, you can open an FXOpen account and continue your trading journey on the TickTrader trading platform, which offers a variety of assets and tools for market analysis.

*At FXOpen UK and FXOpen AU, Cryptocurrency CFDs are only available for trading by those clients categorised as Professional clients under FCA Rules and Professional clients under ASIC Rules, respectively. They are not available for trading by Retail clients.

This article represents the opinion of the Companies operating under the FXOpen brand only. It is not to be construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation with respect to products and services provided by the Companies operating under the FXOpen brand, nor is it to be considered financial advice.

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