Risk Management Considerations
One question often asked is how much capital should one risk on each individual position? Using a fundamental asset allocation approach, one would diversify across multiple asset classes based on individual timeframes and risk tolerance. After deciding on an appropriate asset mix, the portfolio would remain fully invested throughout the determined time period, without regard to changing market conditions. Using this passive strategy, the portfolio would be allowed to simply “ride out” the corrections in the market and hopefully regain any losses during market advances.

For actively managed portfolios, many methods are available for determining individual position size. These include comprehensive methods such as the Kelly criterion (or Optimal f) and the Risk of Ruin Formula, or a simple rule of thumb like not risking more than 2% of the entire portfolio on any one position. For example, if you have a $250,000 portfolio, no more than $5,000 should be invested in any one security under the 2% max position size rule.
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Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) are another great tool for investors who wish to actively manage their investment portfolios. ETFs can be traded like individual securities, however, they contain a basket of securities which provides diversification within the ETF. When choosing ETFs, due diligence is required by the investor, since some ETFs are well diversified and others can be highly concentrated in a few positions. Also, some ETFs carry other risks such as leverage and tracking error.
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One last consideration on risk is deciding how much of the portfolio should be actively traded and how much should simply be allocated to passive, long-term investments. This is why developing a rules-based trading system and maintaining a trading journal to track your performance are essential components of active trading or investing. If you are just starting out, you should only trade the amount of your portfolio that you are willing and able to lose. Once you gain confidence as a trader and can quantify your abilities with a bona fide track record, you may begin to manage an increasingly larger segment of the portfolio.
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One of the most difficult aspects of trading is managing your emotions and objectively critiquing your own trading abilities. If you cannot consistently outperform a buy and hold strategy, then actively managing a larger portion of your portfolio is probably not a good idea. If you do not enjoy trading and cannot separate your emotions from your trading, then it may make more sense to let a professional manage your investments or invest passively using mutual funds or ETFs.

Being honest with yourself will also help you develop a trading strategy that fits your personality. Each individual trader or investor is different and while one style of trading may be appropriate for one person, it may not be appropriate for another. A key component to developing a strategy is that it should be easy for the trader to conceptualize and follow the trading plan. Most of all, it needs to be enjoyable for the trader and not be in conflict with his or her core values.