Thu, 12 July 2012
Michael Covel talks to Dave Stendahl of Capitalogix. Stendahl's world is 100% systematic, and he has been involved in conceptualizing and thinking up systematic approaches to trading the market for decades. But what is a system? Stendahl's explanation appeals both to the average person and to the seasoned trader. Stendahl's approach is that a system should have as few moving parts as possible; it should be simple enough to be explained on the back of a cocktail napkin. Covel and Stendahl make an analogy to cars, and how you can easily fix a simpler car in your garage as opposed to a complex Lexus. Stendahl explains that everyone is using a system in one way or another: every time you make a decision to buy or liquidate, whether it's based on a real system or based on advice from someone on the television, it's systematic in some regard. If you can talk it, you should be able to quantify it. If you can't quantify it, it might not really be there. Stendahl also talks about his beginnings, collaborating with his father in the mid 1970's. This was his exposure to the investment arena. It wasn't until college that he started taking "technical" things more seriously. When he was introduced to technical analysis, and had the lightbulb moment, he realized he could make money based off of something other than fundamentals. Interestingly, this was rooted in Stendahl's dyslexia. He turned this disadvantage into an advantage, and was forced to find his own solutions: to learn specifically how to automate everything from start to finish. This allowed him to look at numbers and trading from another light, and this approach ended up being very profitable for him. Covel also asks Stendahl about Ray Dalio of Bridgewater, who says that he is 100% systematic, but doesn't use any technical information. Stendahl explains that Dalio says he's looking at fundamentals from all these different markets, and this requires a huge amount of work. For Stendahl, he simply has one major input. Making price action systematic vs. taking in a massive number of fundamentals systematically. In the early 90's, Stendahl tried to work with fundamentals, but he found that the numbers were always changing, the data was slow, and given the amount of inputs, it would be much more complex and slow to put a good systematic program together. Stendahl chose to take the easier and more robust route, but he was very sophisticated in the way his systems were designed. Your system doesn't have to be complex to work. Sometimes the best system can be only four lines of code. Covel and Stendahl also discuss position sizing and money management, and how you can approach this systematically.