Traders, both professional and hobby, all have their preferred trading style. Some prefer the fast-paced format of day trading while others like swing trading, where trades are made over a few weeks or months. So how do you know which style you should use?
First, figure out how quickly you want to see results. Day trading can help you see gains fast, but see losses at the same speed. Swing trading, on the other hand, takes a little longer to make a tangible impact.
Matt Choi CMT is the founder of Certus Trading, a “small trading education company with a big mission”, and who has more than 18 years of experience trading the markets. He highlights the value in understanding one’s trading personality. Choi says that his mentor, George Fontanills, helped him discover swing trading as the perfect fit for his own personality. He explains: “… he knew patience wasn’t my strong-suit which meant longer-term investments were not going to work for me. He also knew that I’m pretty impatient and can’t sit still, so day trading wasn’t for me either. We kind of settled in on more of an intermediate time frame, swing trading, where I would make trades anywhere from a few days to a few months.”
Next, consider how much time you have and want to commit to trading. Because so much action happens in just one day, a day trader can spend hours monitoring market conditions. That’s why day trading is ideal for those who want to make trading their full-time job. Swing trading, conversely, requires less active monitoring at the end of the business day to check on market conditions and make decisions. Swing trading may be a better option for those who want to do trading on more of a part-time basis.
These two styles of trading also differ in the amount of trades you perform each day. Day trading is more active, buying and selling multiple stocks per day to take advantage of conditions. By contrast, swing traders may not make any moves for days or even weeks in order to take advantage of larger price swings.
One thing the two types of trading have in common, though, is their use of technical analysis.
Certus Trading’s Matt Choi adds, “It’s all about the chart and the price action. There’s no guessing and there’s no emotions involved. It is strictly based on rules.” Indeed, Choi focuses on technical analysis and rule-based trading so much that his company offers an entire course around helping students master technical analysis.
The final factor in deciding what type of trading you should consider is cost. Day trading can require higher start-up costs and ongoing expenses, not to mention the $25,000 account minimum according to Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) rules. Swing trading costs less to start because it requires fewer monitoring tools like charts and alerts.
“Swing trading is ideal for first-time traders because it requires a smaller time and financial commitment,” Choi notes. “But if you know, like I did, that trading is your passion and you want to be your own boss, day trading may be for you.”