After putting up the first five interviews of some of our top traders and winners of the Zerodha 60 day Challenge, I was asked many times if engineers have better odds to win at trading, as each one of the five featured until now came from a similar background. The search to break the pattern amongst our winners ended at Joby, a 10th standard pass-out from a small town in Kerala with no access to fancy tools or resources, who has still managed to be up over 300% from active F&O trading in the last couple of years trading at Zerodha. His winnings from the market runs into crores over the many years trading F&O actively. I had to use a translator as the only language he speaks is Malayalam. Following is my interaction with Joby.
Name: Joby Age: 47 Years
Running a Bakery to Trading full time. How did that happen?
I was running my own Bakery in the early 1990′s and had people visiting the shop regularly after trading at the Cochin Stock Exchange. The bug bit me and without any knowledge of capital markets, I quit my bakery business to become a full time equity trader. Until 2000, my trading was only in equities and I started trading F&O when it was introduced in 2001. I am thankful to God that the risk I took by shutting down my bakery worked out well for me.
How much money did you start off with?
It all started with just around Rs 500 back when I started and today whatever I have made is all out of that Rs 500. Over a period of 22 years, I have also taken profits out of trading and invested into other avenues, and that trade also has worked out very well.
Investment into other avenues? Why not into stocks?
I have always traded the markets, but all my investments till date have never been in stocks. I guess the reason for this is because it is very tough to trade and invest at the same time, I was never comfortable doing that. For example, I am shorting Nifty futures because I am feeling bearish, but what do I do with the stocks that I am holding for long term–hold or sell? It is very easy to say that you will hold for long term, but such scenarios where there is indecision or time taken can be detrimental to the outcome of your trade.
What do you trade on, mostly? Are they intraday or positional?
I have mostly been trading options from when it was introduced on NSE in 2000, and almost all of it shorting/writing options. I usually hold the positions overnight and sometimes take intraday trades as well.
Why mostly option writing?
I feel options give higher flexibility and shorting options inherently improves the winning odds as long as you have a risk management policy to cover when you are wrong, as the losses writing options can be unlimited. The opportunity to profit from trading options prior to 2010 was much higher.
What is your risk management policy/money management rule?
I haven’t ever had any big losses from the time I started trading and you will be surprised to know that I don’t really have a risk management policy as such. I don’t have fixed stop losses, I average my position when in loss, I go against the trend, break many rules that a lot of analysts keep shouting out on TV asking to follow. One of those things I do though is that when I take a wrong trade that was not intended to, I immediately book the loss if any and try to stay away from trading on that particular day.
Also, from when I started, I have made sure that only a small portion (1 to 3%) of my net-worth is used for trading, I guess that is the money management rule that you are asking me for.
So what about the trading strategy, how do you enter or exit?
It is based on support and resistance, I wait with a lot of patience for market to show a range and when it displays the same, I start writing options which will benefit if the market stays within the range. Most of these trades typically are hedged because I would be shorting calls and puts at the same time so that I can benefit from both the calls and puts premium losing its value when in the range. From the time India VIX was launched in 2009, I also keep a tab on it to decide how aggressive I should be writing options, the best times being when value of VIX is relatively higher.
When convinced that the range is getting broken, I will start taking single sided trades either long or short and these could sometimes be plain long options or buying/selling futures. I also as a rule completely avoid writing naked put options.
How do you determine this support and resistance in charts?
I don’ t follow any technical analysis or look at any charts. To be very honest I don’t even know how to use computers properly. But all the years I have been trading actively, I have spent countless hours looking at the terminal on how Nifty prices move. If the market is trading, I am looking at the screen if I am in a trade or not. I have my own unique way of calculating the resistance and support just by watching and analyzing the price and volume. I don’t need to look at the chart for this, just a market depth window (Snap quote window) is enough.
Do you know that what you are saying sounds like “Tape Reading or Reading the Tape“?
As I said earlier, have studied only till 10th, don’t browse the internet, have never followed tips, don’t believe in stop losses, I am able to look at the symptoms of Nifty and predict if it will be in a range or breakout.
No stop loss? So how do you exit when in profits or losses?
It is based on how I feel about my trade with respect to how the markets are moving. I don’t really have preset exit points and there have been many times where I have averaged when the price has gone against my trade. I will book a loss or profit based on my conviction of the trade.
What do you do when not trading?
My routine is working out in the morning, playing football and going on family vacations with my wife Seena and two kids once or twice every year.
It is a special achievement to be up so much trading actively on F&O, any plans to scale up in the future?
I love what I am doing presently which is trading but not very aggressively, and wish to continue the same. Also before we end the conversation, I want to thank Zerodha for putting up a very unique initiative like the 60 Day Challenge that gives additional motivation to profit and be amongst the winners.
I quizzed Joby for quite a while trying to figure out on how he determines the range, support and resistance and if there was any method to it. I was also astonished that he remembered the exact expiry settlement prices for almost the last 10 years. I could only conclude that he has a special skillset and importantly also the discipline to go along with it. For all the naysayers of “Tape Reading”, Joby proves it can be done and I think a critical element to his success is also the fact that only a small portion of his networth is used for trading, that in itself is his risk/money management rule.
Wishing Joby all the best,