After my graduation from UCLA, I worked at a Chinese Bank as an in-house real estate appraiser. The salary was not ideal but I loved the job simply because it involved numbers and photography. I was a happy appraiser at the bank for awhile when things began to change. The bank changed ownership and also changed its business philosophy. Working there was not fun anymore with unnecessary pressure and internal politics. I began to look for a way out.


All of my brothers-in-law are businessmen. I carefully observed their businesses and tried to find a model that fits me the most.


My oldest brother-in-law was doing business oversea. He flew frequently to Asia to take care of his customers and business deals.  Flying for vacation is fine but flying for business is different. I knew the difference when I flew to San Francisco in 1990 to help reviewing the appraisal reports for the merger when my bank decided to expand. It is definitely not fun flying often to work from my personal perspective.


My second brother-in-law traded the market full time for a living. I believed he traded commodity as well. I was told during a market crash in Taiwan, he was in a tough time financially but he weathered through it. He continued his trading career after he immigrated to the United States. I didn’t know the financial side of his career, but I observed one interesting fact: He had flexible working hours.


My other brothers-in-law owned restaurants in upstate New York.  One opened a full line restaurant and the business was doing well. The others jointly opened a smaller scale fast food restaurant and they were struggling to make ends meet. I observed one common issue for restaurant owners: They all work long hours and won't get home until midnight. Making money or not, restaurant is definitely not my way of making a living.


After reviewing the businesses of my brothers-in-law, I like the trading business mainly because of its flexible working hours. When I first started, I was nervous since I realized I was doing it for real. One wrong move could be disastrous financially. The “golden era of the stock market in the 1990’s gave me a big lift in confidence but the market crash in the 2000’s brought me down to earth and I felt the cruel reality of this business. I realized blind trading is not the way to trade the market for a living. I looked for ways to educate myself in stock and option trading.


I spent considerable amount of time, effort and money to learn how to trade efficiently. During my study and real time trading experience, I realized the most reliable way to be a successful trader is to make the odds working in my favor and be mechanical when adjusting the trades. We are not living in a perfect world and hence, not all of our trades will work out the way we wish. We need to make adjustments when trades go against us. Picture this: When we drive from point A to point B, how many of us drive straight line with constant speed  from start to finish? The answer is probably none. We need to turn, slow down or speed up and occasionally change route due to road repair or accident. In my opinion, the same thing happens in trading. When trades go our way, we happily collect profit. When trades go against us,  we make adjustments and be mechanical about it. In other words, we need to trade emotionless and make sure the odds still work in our favor after the adjustments. Be prepared to pay “tuition” not only during our formal education but also during our real trades before we make consistent profit in this business. The most persistent traders will most likely be the ones who enjoy the sweetness of this business at the end.




Dennis Phan   潘家墉

1971/1974 Khai Minh Doan Ket Class

30 March 2014 in Claremont, California, USA









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