Forex Investment – The Risks

Forex investment is being advertised across all forms of media right now as a great way to make money. The advertisers imply that it is an easy and profitable way to invest your money and let’s face it under the current economic climate we are all looking for an easy low risk option to make some extra cash. So let’s take a closer look at forex, understand what it is and evaluate the true risks.

Forex is an acronym for ‘foreign exchange’ and forex investment trading is a form of investment by taking advantage of the movements or exchange differences between foreign currencies.

Because the rate of exchange between a pair of currencies is constantly changing, it is possible for a shrewd trader to make a lot of money by accurately predicting these changes. It’s very similar to trading in stocks and shares on the stock market, you buy when the price is low and sell when the price is high.

As is common with investing in the stock market, forex traders can take a medium to long term view based on a steady drift in currency prices over a period of time. However, the advertising suggests short term gains and to be fair, this is what most forex traders do. They use trading skills and techniques to make relatively small gains over a short period and repeat the process over and over.

A forex trader will buy a currency when he thinks it will rise in price. This is called opening a trade. A closing trade is when he sells a currency because he thinks it price is about to fall. Often he will open and close a trade within minutes. The skill is in watching the markets and recognising a pattern developing which he knows from experience will lead to an upward or downward trend and thereby chooses to jump in and open or close a trade.

Many traders use a system which either they have developed themselves over many trades or they buy an ‘off the shelf’ system which can provide a short cut through the learning curve to becoming a successful trader. This is what most of the advertisements are trying to sell and it is necessary to be very wary about some of the claims made with some of these systems. There is also software available which automate the whole process and robots open and close the trades for you based upon parameters built into the software. There are one or two of these robot systems emerging in the marketplace now which look very promising (I post monthly reviews of such products on my blog).

With the ever increasing accessibility and popularity of the internet, brokers have seized the opportunity to attract a lot of a new breed of investor to the forex investment market – people with relatively small funds can begin with just a few hundred dollars. Many are encouraged to think that they can make a lot of money in a short time and are often disappointed. It is necessary to learn some specific skills and require a lot of self discipline to be successful. It takes time, motivation and commitment.

Some people take up forex investment simply because they are looking for a new challenge. Maybe they already invest in the stock market and are looking at other ways of increasing their portfolio of investments. These people are more likely to succeed because they have a better understanding of the risks and are prepared with sufficient funds to lose from time to time. The skill comes in making more gains than losses over a period of time.

There are many influences on the market and some of them completely unpredictable even to the most experienced trader. Take disasters such as the terrorist attack on the Trade Center in New York on 11 September 2001 for example. It is wise to set up an automatic stop loss if things suddenly turn against the trade. A stop loss is a pre-determined amount your trade is allowed to lose before it is automatically closed. A very sensible precaution.

In summary, forex investment has risk attached to it but it is a risk that can be controlled and managed provided you learn the skills, tricks and techniques required before becoming heavily involved.