19 May 2018

COMMENT: Music matters – setting the right environment for trading

Every year, there are more and more of us getting into Forex trading. No longer is it seen as beyond the reach of the hobby investor, the home worker or the student who wants to earn a little money on the side. Today, we have trading apps that are free to download, supported by trading tutorials that show us how to use them.

Not only that, new markets are opening up such as the trading market for cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency has been around for over a decade now, but only in recent years has it begun to assimilate into the mainstream trading environment. If you want to get started with cryptocurrency trading then visit the Ethereum exchange, where you can buy and sell the popular coin every day.

Is it really that easy? Of course it’s not, if it was, everyone would be doing it and driving Ferraris, and unfortunately, life just doesn’t work that way. The point is, there are lots of ways to make money trading, but in the currency market more than others, there is a real sense of yin and yang. When you make money trading, for example, GBP/USD, that means someone somewhere has lost money trading USD/GBP.

More than just the finance

The natural conclusion is that you need to make sure you are on the right side of the trade. That’s true enough, and it demands expertise. When anyone poses the question “How can I become a successful Forex trader?” The immediate answer they are likely to get is to put in long hours learning their trade, analysing the markets and understanding the various financial indicators and Forex tools they will need to use.

That’s certainly good advice, and you will not get far as a trader without doing so, but there is more to it than that. The currency markets are subject to such subtle changes, and can be influenced by so many variables, that sometimes you need what can only be defined as intuition in order to make the right calls at the right times. The best place to get started? Try a Forex Course and learn everything you need to know.

You can have all the knowledge and training in the world, but if your mind is not in the right place, and you are not fully focussed on what you are doing, your profits will ultimately suffer, of that there is no doubt. So how can you channel your inner trader and optimise your performance? For a start, you need to be working in the right environment.

Music and mindset

If you are sitting on the sofa with a half eaten pizza at your side and Bloomberg running all day long on the tube, you probably feel as if you are cutting the right dash as a serious trader. You couldn’t be more wrong. For a start, the guys and girls on the screen will predominantly be saying the same old things over and over, and for another, you need to be focussed on what you are doing, not what some journalists and commentators are saying.

By all means get your fix first thing in the morning as you drink your coffee, and maybe again later in the day over that pizza, but otherwise, switch the TV off and get some music playing.

Now this is dangerous territory, as musical taste is a very personal thing, and what works well to focus one person can be the world’s biggest distraction and irritant to another. So with that caveat in mind, let’s find out what the researchers think.

Scientists over at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York spent months assessing the effects of music on our concentration, mental function, perception and satisfaction while working. Sadly, there is no detailed explanation of the research itself, but one can only assume that it subjected test groups to everything from Mozart to Motörhead and asked them to concentrate on complex tasks, which must have been a wonderful spectacle to witness.

They concluded that sounds of nature, such as chirping birds or running water proved to be the most beneficial according to all the test parameters, provided that the sounds were not looped or repetitive.

They also found that as a general trend, instrumental music was more conducive to focus and productivity than words. Intuitively this makes sense, as when we are hearing words, we will listen to and mentally process them. This confirmed previous findings by another team of researchers at an engineering college in Bangalore, who went so far as to conclude that music played at a tempo of 60 BPM was most conducive to relaxation, stress reduction and mental clarity.

Other considerations

Music is important, but is not the only environmental factor to consider. As a trader, you might think that all you need is your smartphone, so you can conduct your trading from anywhere, but this is never going to deliver the best results. The phone app is great for keeping an eye on things on the go, but when you need to seriously focus, a large screen and a traditional keyboard are the tools of choice.

Also, ensure you are in an environment that benefits from as much natural light as possible, and invest some money in a proper chair and desk. With these in place, you will have the optimum operating environment to be fully attuned to what you are doing and make the most of your innermost skills, as well as exercising the expertise you have picked up through those hours of study.

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